Work, like love, is a many splendored thing, and sometimes as one door closes another opens. Behind that door may be untold joy. Behind that door may be a whole day of specialised focus training, starting with those immortal words…..firstly lets split us all into groups. Not untold joy.
It was through this door I found myself this week, opening into a hot training room at the London HQ of Corporate Toot LLP. The theme was Customer Service Olympics, and if there was an olympic event in sighing and eye rolling, the assembled crowd would definitely be in the finals.
The day started off as is customary in these situations with an introduction from the trainer, who skillfully managed to be at the same time manically enthusiastic yet dead behind the eyes. How can light not radiate from your face when you know you have successfully managed to hypnotise a huge firm into paying your company (Money For Old Rope Ltd) shed loads of cash for absolutely no work or specialised knowledge? I would be glowing like a beacon. Especially as the start-up costs for such a venture seem relatively small. By the looks of things all you need are some string, a packet of felt tips, a couple of hard-boiled eggs and balls of steel, most of which are readily available in Poundland.
The day’s activities of ‘learning through fun’ began with each group making a Power Point about how great work is, an oxymoron if ever there was one. We had a quiz where I learnt that the London office used 12,496 rolls of toilet tissue in January. Who cares. We made a sandwich pretending to be blind and handless, which is vital in an administrative function. There followed more such developmental tasks such as completing a jigsaw of the smiling faces of our bosses, wrapping an egg up in all manner of stationary and a three-legged race in a small room, where each team had 5 people tied together with what can only be described as razor wire. My ankles looked like I’d been at bondage convention. Another girl had her skirt ripped right to her undergarments. Obviously all things ripe for embellishing a CV.
Following each event we were all invited to give feedback on how we thought the activity had gone. Sadly no one told the truth, which was that the whole thing was a pointless pile of toot, and through this neglect the trainer’s power only grew stronger. It was like the warnings from The Brother’s Grimm had been purely for the good of their health.
With this mighty strength (following a buffet lunch which drained our powers even more), she unveiled the final task- run round the building, find rubbish, make musical instruments out of them, and then compose an opus as to how wonderful Corporate Toot LLP was. Sweet Jesus. Luckily due to having to fly home to the wee island, I escaped the actual performance. I fear my soul may never have recovered.
What this whole day discovered was people have different internal views of themselves than others do, that people work better with one leader rather than many, and people change their personalities depending on time and circumstance. Groundbreaking. That’ll be 20 grand please.
Where was the Health and Safety freaks when you needed them to put a stop to this madness? The best bit of the day was looking at the graffiti from the windows of the Stanstead Express. That and browsing at the felt-tips at the airport.