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I don’t ask for much August 14, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Observations, Overheard.
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I don’t ask for much around CorporateSpeak, but there are a few things that everyone should be able to do for the good of the company, the good of their fellow employees, and the general pursuit of good morale.

  1. Turn things off when you’re done with them. We have a few televisions in the room where I work. People leave them turned on, which is fine, and turned way up, which is not. There are lots of other people working in here. Watch TV in the break room.
  2. Wear headphones, or listen quietly. I admit I have streaming music on my computer most of the time. But I keep it low; you can’t hear it from more than five feet away unless you’re really trying. Be as courteous as me. I don’t need to hear “the awesomest YouTube video ever” sixteen times because you have to show it to everyone in the room.
  3. Don’t talk so loud. Even with headphones I can still hear everything you say. We don’t have big cubicles; the walls are four feet high. I understand we have to talk to get our jobs done, but try doing it a little more softly. Everyone will appreciate it.
  4. Proofread. Seriously. You are getting paid a good salary to do this job. Have a little pride in your work and spell-check. Do you realize how stupid we all look when you can’t spell “vandalized” or put a space between “in” and “front”? Oh, and you know who gets all the e-mailed complaints, right?
  5. Calm down. When something urgent comes up, you don’t have to yell, jump up and down, call in the cavalry, shout across the room, or any combination of those. Just deal with the problem in a calm, quiet manner. We’ll all appreciate it.
  6. Quit your bitching. This place sucks. We all know this place sucks. It sucks to work here. It sucks to hang around here. Our jobs suck. But we have jobs to do, and we should be thankful. Don’t complain in the middle of the room. At least have the decency to take your negativity to a break room.

There are other things I want, not the least of which is “take pride in your work”, but this is a good place to start. Each and every one of these things happened yesterday — the TVs were left on, YouTube was watched loudly, people shouted, things were misspelled everywhere, everyone went crazy when one of our projects went horribly wrong, and the complaining made me upset even though it was a fairly good day overall.

Increase morale, people. Do little things. Make your work a better place to be. I don’t ask for much, but maybe you could do that for me.

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The Plight of the Fat Guy 2: Losing Weight July 7, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Overheard, The Plight of the Fat Guy.
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Here’s another week on CorporateSpeak: the Plight of the Fat Guy.

It is the dream of most fat guys to drop the weight and show everyone* that:

  • It can be done.
  • I (that is, the fat guy) can look hot too.

But here’s the rub: when a fat guy loses weight, everyone notices. And then they try to be nice and draw attention to it, as if to say “hey, I know you’re still a fattie, but now you’re trying to look like the rest of us. Isn’t that cute?”

The other problem is that, when losing a lot of weight, there’s pretty much three stages:

  1. The first ten pounds, which usually show in the face.
  2. The next 50 pounds, which are really difficult to get off and don’t show very much, but people still say “oh, good job losing weight” just to seem like they care.
  3. The rest of the weight, which never comes off.

But people who aren’t fat don’t know that. All they know is that the fat guy is trying to lose weight, so they say encouraging things and “notice” how that the fat guy has done so. Except he hasn’t. Not in a while. He’s backsliding. He’s actually gaining weight. And the reinforcement doesn’t help.

Just try saying that, though; the fat guy needs people at work to be nice, and shunning compliments, even well-intentioned-but-unhelpful ones, is always a mistake.

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* Especially that hot girl from high school who never gave you the time of day.

it really means “find ways to penalize them” March 9, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Economic Downturn, Inexplicable Memos From Above, Overheard.
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The following e-mail, minus some redacted elements, made its way to my inbox. It is from a company that CorporateSpeak works with, but is not affiliated with us.

Just a little think piece for you. Tom and I were talking about ways to audit the marketing representatives, a.k.a. check and measure their performance. Tom really only has the logs and the e-mail traffic to go on. He says that, since everyone is using the proper codes and since you can’t really tell if the log is wrong, everyone has been scoring 100% on the audit. Any suggestions for better evaluating their performance?

What the sender is basically saying is, “find ways we can penalize people because everyone’s doing too well at their jobs and we can’t fire people who consistently score 100% on their audits”.

This sort of thing is happening more and more often as companies are being forced to downsize, or at least cut salaries. At CorporateSpeak, raises have been suspended for 2009, and when I had my 2008 review (six months late, but I had it), my boss said that we’ve made our employee review standards tougher in hopes that fewer people would even be eligible for raises. That’s the company’s prerogative, as long as they apply it across the board (which, to my knowledge, they have), but in order to pull it off, they have to find new ways to penalize employees who have traditionally done a really good job.

The e-mail I received from that other company just reinforces the concept.

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just because you can doesn’t mean you should January 28, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Management, Overheard.

Using the restroom, unless you have a small child who is learning or you live in a communal-bathroom dormitory and are having competitions of the sort that college students tend to have, is a private thing. There are just certain simple rules of bathroom etiquette that need to be followed at the office.

First among these — outside the general guidelines for men using urinals — is that you do not talk to other people in the bathroom when it becomes clear that they are there to make number two. (Not this one, though.) It doesn’t matter if you see them walk in and go to a stall. It doesn’t matter if you come in and recognize someone’s bag or jacket hanging over the door. There is no excuse whatsoever to intrude on what is a personal and private moment.

Look, we all poop. Every one of us. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But do you really want to think about what your co-worker (or, worse, your boss) is doing in the next stall? There’s little weirder than stepping into a stall and, as you’re about to do your business, someone says “hey, Jeff, making a deposit before you head out for the weekend?”

How do you react to that? Do you release the hounds anyway? Do you clamp down and wait until you hear that person depart the bathroom? Do you make a witty retort, let it fly, and damn the consequences?

I’m betting most people go with option two — male or female, no one wants their boss to hear those noises. Sure, if you’ve been in the bathroom for ten minutes, your boss knows where you’ve been, but it’s polite not to mention it — especially if you’re feeling sick and your boss is fully aware there’s only one reason for your frequent trips to the bathroom.

This is really directed more toward managers — if you go into the bathroom and do your thing, your employees are likely not going to say anything, but there’s a few awkward situations involving how to talk to management, and one of them is how we the peons react when you make a quip as we’re about to poop.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Please make a note of it.

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not all suggestions are good suggestions January 22, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Did I Hear That Right?, Management, Overheard.
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CC-licensed image by Flickr user dampeebe.

CC-licensed image by Flickr user dampeebe.

Our new VP has a problem. See, here at CorporateSpeak Headquarters, we solicit suggestions from our customers. Are we doing something wrong? Something right? Is there something we should be doing? Her brainchild was to put a big e-mail form on our frontpage (and guess who got to build it?) and have everyone in the building receive and respond to these e-mails.

Occasionally, these e-mails contain good ideas. But not all customer suggestions are good suggestions.

It’s just frustrating to be sitting where I’m sitting and listening to her say how great all these suggestions are until *ooh shiny thing* she goes off and does something different, thereby forgetting to make all the things she’s supposed to make for everyone else’s projects.

Just one of those little frustrations.

mixing markers December 31, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Overheard.
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Here’s a little something lighter to close out 2008, CorporateSpeak’s inaugural year.

A friend of The Speak* — let’s call her Chicken — works for the government of one of the 50 United States. We chat via IM pretty much all day (on and off; it doesn’t occupy my entire day, and besides, I only have so many good stories before I start repeating myself).

She recently sent me this:

Chicken: i just aspent 10 minutes separationg out “used” markers from “fresh” markers for my boss
Chicken: she doesnt want them to mix anymore
Chicken: she freaked out over sharpies the other day
Chicken: because someone had taken ours
Chicken: someone who works with us
Chicken: she yelled at me because i “let” him

She went on in that vein for a while. We tend to blow off steam by chatting back and forth in this fashion, complaining about what’s going on at our respective offices, and commenting on the general stupidity of people.

A few years ago, I worked in an industry that depended on writing on things with red Sharpie markers. It was almost impossible to find said markers, which is why I tended to buy my own and keep them in my bag, and put only one in my cubby in the production suite where I tended to work on my marker-related projects. It was always amusing to see just how long people had to spend going around the building trying to find either a red marker or an unlocked supply cabinet. (It was a 24-hour shop and I worked more frequently when the sun was down than when it was up.)

In my last year there, we transitioned to a computerized system that precluded the need for red markers. Many sighs of relief were heaved. Apparently Chicken’s office still is on that old system.


From all of us** at CorporateSpeak to all of you*** who read this blog, have a safe and happy new year. Don’t drink and drive. And if you’re in the unfortunate position of having to come to work on Friday January 2, don’t worry; there’ll be a fresh blog post here for you, just like usual. But I’m taking tomorrow off. It’s one of the Seven Major Holidays, after all.


* That’s what some of my friends here at work call it so it doesn’t get out that I write this blog. I probably wouldn’t last very long if it did, despite not sharing any privileged secrets.

** All of us? There’s just me, really.

*** According to my stats software, about 20 or 30 people a day. Tell your friends.

freudian typo November 20, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Overheard.
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Full disclosure: I do not in any way think of my boss when I think of sex. That’s just weird.

The problem with instant messages is that once you’ve sent them, you can never, ever recall them. Not usually a problem if you double-check who you’re sending them to — so, for example, you don’t send your vampire RPG partner a note about a client lunch or your co-worker a couple of paragraphs about how you want to bite her neck. But certain keys are near each other. Too near, in my opinion.

Boss: can you send me the original logo for This Product?
That Guy: I sent it yesterday, right?
That Guy: or do you need a different one than that?
Boss: did you… maybe I forgot
That Guy: I can send again
That Guy: one sex
That Guy: sec
That Guy: dammit

Fortunately, he didn’t care one way or the other.

“I just hate it when people don’t pass that crack-pipe.” November 14, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Overheard.
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I was having a discussion with someone in marketing about a piece of equipment in high demand in the content management department — there’s only one, but it’s needed by 50 different employees about 75% of the time. We were talking about how no one in the office has the equipment they need, and I used that piece of equipment as an example. I said, “it gets passed around like… like…” and she said, “like a joint?”

To which I said, “people don’t usually get into fights about joints. I’d go with crack-pipe.”

And that’s when she said this:

I just hate it when people don’t pass that crack-pipe.

“I’m spending the morning getting this report done.” November 6, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Overheard.
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Something that is both disturbing and endemic of the current corporate environment:

I’m spending the morning getting my monthly report done, and then I’ll work on our Huge Software Release.

The Huge Software Release affects every single one of our customers. We’re using it to try and get people to start using our products after they see how well this new one works. But I recently overheard a manager say he would be spending the entire morning of release day finishing his monthly report before doing something that could conceivably affect hundreds of thousands of people.

Way to go, corporate mentality!

“he didn’t want sex from me” November 5, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Overheard.
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Said near my desk last week by an attractive woman who works in a different department.

I was making $18,000 a year and this guy wants to take me out to dinner and buy me drinks, but doesn’t want to have sex with me? I’m there!