office engagement…

Often we read about GREAT WORK PLACES … or even went on to get totally obsessed with Zappos’ Tony Hsieh’s office environment, employee engagement/ HR policies and work practices, by writing in for the FOC Culture Book (yes, you read me right. The book (hard cover too) is given away free, and you don’t even need to pay for worldwide postage).

OK. I was one of them; minus the obsessed.

I got the Culture Book (and have since given it away to my semi-obsessed ex-staff and ‘partner in crime’) to know what is in it. Honestly, nothing. Just collage of people by functions or department doing their zanny, weird sometimes borderline psycho stuff. It’s colourful and “colourful” to put it simply. And like Google, you’re either ‘in’ or not. There’s no two ways about it. Hence, culture.

You can’t fake culture. You can’t pay someone else to build culture for you. It has to be something majority of people resonate towards and is proud to stand out different from the rest of the world. It has to come internally. And often enough it starts with one crazy idea that evolves into a great series of creative ideas of many, many people … spreading like an epidemic.

In my last last life, we used to do pretty darn silly things… some seriously bold to the point that we could very well lose our jobs if it back-fired.

I for one had foolishly insisted that I was going to resign if I did not get my way of hanging up weird posters above urinals in the toilet. My resoluteness was put to a test when I was asked to sign an undated resignation letter by the CEO. I did. And not only that I had quipped (God knows why), “This separates the men from the boys” as I handed over the letter!

Since then, I have couriered an inflated alligator across town, encouraged sales and service (front line staff) team leaders to place large plastic cacti on the lowest performing team members desk on a weekly rotational basis, gave someone a *punch* by sticking a hugely offensive knock-out sign on the person’s desk for the person who crushed the competition, as non-extrinsic rewards branded in a jest-cum-friendly-competition. Reprimand creatively works – if you don’t believe me, check out Brad Hogg holding on to Pinky at Team Rajasthan!

I’ve also arranged structured “fight” arenas called “BiTs” with taglines that includes: we will tear you to BiTs … 

But mostly, I aimed at Delivering Happiness… and I, repeatedly do put my arse job on the line (I would be classified as a retard in this regard when it comes to learning from the past!) In short, I like unconventional. I like the play of words. I am visual.

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So, it has been a very stressful stretch off late, having to deal with diversity (ethnic, culture, education and cognitive levels) in the face of work backlogs and absenteeism of a valued and productive team member.

To de-stress, I decided to compose a fake email to the CEO in New York complaining about the lack of response towards the repair works of  the coffee machine at work, which had decided it was time to take a break from all of us, caffeine addicts. This fake email was forwarded to internal HR:

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