Last week @Matt Guyan and I had a short Twitter conversation on a recent blog post I wrote about Social Onboarding and as these things do, the conversation turned to what would happen if our lives as learning and development professionals turned into movies.
What would your career movie look like? Who will play your part? The part of your clients, stakeholders, manager?
Needless to say, I didn’t have to think long and hard about my movie. In my head, it’s an Oscar winning portrayal of a young girl who ran away from a strict Greek traditional upbringing, joined the Navy and then went on to become an overnight success after a long an arduous and somewhat tumultuous start in the corporate grey world where back stabbing and internal political nitpicking left her jaded and confused. An evocative art house portrayal and an intellectual jaunt into the realms of corporate despair and cubicle isolation that sheds light into the fragile human character and spirit.
Or maybe not.
It’s more like a quirky B-grade comedy starring Tina Fey, Sandra Bullock or Julia Louis-Dreyfus (as me).
Co-stars are going to be tough but I’d like to think that Nick Frost or Simon Pegg or George Constanza (Jason Alexander, as George Constanza) are some of my colleagues; one particular Navy boss must be played by Jon Hamm as Don Draper because he was the SPITTING IMAGE of Don Draper only much nicer); another boss Kitty Flanagan (aka Rhonda from ABC’s Utopia) and a spattering of colleagues who I admired for their intellectual wit to be played by James Spader like characters (from Boston Legal).
I’d also like the scary Scot who plays Dougal MacKenzie (or Graham McTavish) in Outlander to be in my movie. He bears an uncanny resemblance to an Army Warrant Officer who once stood at the doorway of my class. With the sunlight behind him, his tall and silent presence made a shadow cast over the room and everyone fell silent. He pointed his pace stick to someone in the class to follow him outside – all without a word spoken – well, you just had to be there. Scary bloke. He must be in my movie.
But I digress.
Okay so it won’t be a blockbuster movie but there have been other movies or shows that have made me laugh because they are so close to an office environment. Let me share some of these with you today.
THE DREADED POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
I remember when Powerpoint first came out and everything had to be in Powerpoint. Our acetates gave way to a plethora (well, not exactly) of standard templates with a selection of fonts like Times New Roman and wow, Comic Sans! Over time, people started putting everything in Powerpoints and they lost their pizazz. In particularly, working for public service organisations that had standard templates, font styles, themes and branding that had to be used, presentations became boring.
BEING FORCED TO GO TO TEAM TRAINING ON PEOPLE SKILLS, CUSTOMER SERVICE ET AL
Ever had to go to a team training session on how to manage people or customer service skills? I’ve lost count on how many I’ve been to. They were always organised by a manager or senior leader and usually through a mass roll out to all departments and teams as part of a change management program or initiative. They often occurred at inconvenient times but when you did go, you wish they were going to be interesting in some way – or at least have a good morning or afternoon tea on.
Although I’ve never had a boss like David Brent, I did have one in particular who seemed to suffer foot-in-mouth disease and who refused to have a computer at his desk. He was the only person in the office you could hear working…on his typewriter.
UNNECESSARY REPORTS THAT ARE NEVER USED OR READ
In Learning and Development, weekly progress status reports to the team was part of the job as a means of recording our projects, any risks and deliverables. In the early days before MS Project, they were a nightmare and an additional task that you had to stay back at work to complete. To this day, I still don’t know if any of the reports were actually read or referred to. Luckily, it’s a lot easier and seamless nowadays.
MEETINGS WITH VENDORS WHO LIAISED WITH THE WRONG PEOPLE TO CREATE SOLUTIONS THAT SIMPLY DON’T SOLVE THE PROBLEMS
Many hours have been spent in meetings with vendors, stakeholders and clients. In the majority of cases, vendors have provided us with solutions that were aligned to the problem we were trying to solve. In those situations it was because there was analysis and input from the people who had that problem and who recognised gaps in the workplace performance. However, I have been to meetings where the vendor was consulted without that business input and a situation like this transpired….
TIME WASTED ON PERFORMANCE REVIEWS THAT ARE FLAWED.
I’ve lost track to how many performance reviews I’ve done in my 24+ years of working life. I tolerated them because there was no alternative but I resented having to respond to many people requesting feedback from me at the same time every year. Having to recall and write responses to what my achievements were in line with my job description key performance indicators was annoying. I felt I was having to constantly please managers so that they could put me somewhere on a bell curve and did nothing to engender team work.
FOR EVERY.SINGLE.PROJECT.I’VE.BEEN.ON. – WHO IS THIS CREEP CALLED SCOPE?
If you haven’t seen The Pentagon Wars, do yourself a favour and try and find this movie. I saw this movie twice in a row because it exemplified every single project I’ve been on. Here they are building the Bradley, a troop carrier, for me – this situation could easily have been a developing a training program or implementing a Learning Management System or developing an e-learning course.
THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE GENERATION Y
Every job I’ve had has had some involvement with the younger generation. This is working with graduates or showing a bunch of school kids around your workplace. This is usually my reaction…
FOR TIME SPENT AT THE PHOTOCOPIER OR PRINTER
I wonder how many lost time was spent changing printer cartridges? Or accidentally printing Black and White when you wanted Colour (because the stakeholder meetings wanted coloured Powerpoint slides only); or the toner needed changing; or some blinking light flashing that the technician needs to be called in…
FOR TIME WASTED ON THE PHONE WITH IT SUPPORT
Or as a colleague once called it, the IT Unhelp Desk. Still, to this day, I have 3 unresolved IT support tickets. And no, I will not provide you feedback to close the ticket BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T SOLVED MY PROBLEM!
ENFORCED TRAINING SESSIONS – IT’S ABOUT THE FOOD
I really hate turning up to meetings and training sessions late because not only are all eyes on you, the vacant seats are at the front. If your boss is there before you, that also looks bad. Hey, but if there’s food then that’s all that matters.
FOR WASTED HOURS IN CONFERENCE CALLS
I wish I had my time logged for all the conference calls I have had in my life….
So what would your movie look like if your life was made into a movie?
FOR UNNECESSARY EMAIL THAT EXPLODED MY INBOX
I had to laugh at this clip because I have received (or even sent) the emails mentioned here.
EXPLAINING TWITTER (or any social media) TO MY COLLEAGUES IN THE EARLY DAYS
Many times I had to explain Twitter to my friends and colleagues and had to bust the myths that Kitty says here…
So if your work life was a movie, what would it be? A drama, thriller, or comedy?