One of the absolute best things about working from home is I am no longer subjected to the dreaded “team-building events.” I estimate 90% of people hate these things, but we’re all forced to endure them. And let me tell you, extreme introverts hate it more than the less introverted can possibly imagine.
This is a Classic Fermented Fur post from ten years ago. How many of you can relate?
It is a well-known fact, to those who know it well, that I hate those participatory, team-building, touchy-feely, business seminars. Let me be absolutely clear about this.
I hate them.
Loathe. Abhor. Despise. Detest.
I do not like them. And I need a bigger thesaurus.
And yet that is exactly what I’ll be doing next Tuesday. All day.
We recently re-started our work with our ActionCOACH (yes, that’s how they spell it), which is a worldwide business coaching network. Our coach is an unbelievable dynamo. She’s from Australia, and she does not have a low gear. Think “ADHD hummingbird on crack.” She rock climbs, surfs, bungee jumps, kayaks, and (for all I know) participates in triathlons with entire populations of third world villages perched on her shoulders. Still, she is always impeccably dressed, has lovely – if very pointy – shoes, perfectly sculpted nails, and a dark tan.
As a part of our return to the ActionCOACH fold, we’re being subjected to participating in a Team Alignment Day. I understand the importance of strengthening our team relationships, and finding ways to get along and work better together, because (unfortunately) this is one of our ongoing struggles.
I’d just really rather not be there.
As the Practice Manager, though, there’s simply no way out of it. I must attend, participate, and pretend to be happy about it. I do have enough experience from years of front desk work, pretending to like people, that I will likely pull this off, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather have all my skin peeled off, strip by strip, and fed to rabid jackals.
Tell me if this agenda sounds like fun:
(Setting, a meeting room at a local hotel. The room will be too chilly, I won’t get to sit where I want, and there will not be nearly enough breaks.)
8:00 AM: Welcome and overview
(Yeah, yeah. Yippee.)
Why we are here today
(Because somebody made us be here. Oh, and they’re paying me $15/hour.)
Why to invest in a business coach
(Because we’re clueless, and you’re that damned persuasive)
Introduce business coach
(Hi. We’ve met.)
8:10 AM: Introduction
8:20 AM: General Principles of Success
(By now, I already have to pee, and I want a cigarette. Brain cells may already be starting to atrophy.)
8:45 AM: Setting RAS: What I want out of today
(My answer: More smoke breaks, free lunch, and an early dismissal. An open bar would also be appreciated. And a cab ride home.)
9:00 AM: Game
(I do not like games. And these “games” are never, ever fun.)
9:10 AM: General Principles of Success (Continued)
(Oh, goodie. The 25 minutes of this we’ve already had weren’t nearly enough.)
9:45 AM: Break (15 minutes)
(Translation: Two cigarettes and one quick potty stop. I will probably return to the meeting room out of breath, my pants half zipped, and toilet paper stuck to my heel.)
10:00 AM: 6 Keys to a Winning Team
(If she can just help me get them to stop whining and do their damned jobs, I’ll be happy.)
10:15 AM: Strong Leadership
(Easy. Get a bigger
baseball bat team motivation device.)
10:30 AM: Common Goals (Created prior to Team Day)
(I’m pretty sure that last agenda item should read either 2008 or 2009 goals. Of course, if I re-write my 2007 goals, I could make it look as if I actually accomplished some of them.)
11:30 AM: Rules of the Game
Business Culture Statement (Created on day with Team)
(We’re a holistic veterinary practice. Our vision and mission from the 10:30 segment, and our culture statement, are all very new-agey, all about respect, empowerment, trust, healing, and harmony. Sounds lovely in theory, very tough to pull off in practice when you want to slap someone silly for remaining an idiot after all your generous attempts to de-idiot-ize them.)
12:15 PM: Game
(Perhaps I can pretend to have diarrhea, and thus get an early start on lunch.)
12:30 PM: Lunch (45 minutes)
(Lunch. Is. Not. Included. I am not amused. I shall have to venture several blocks to Chili’s, which I normally wouldn’t mind, but 45 minutes is not enough time for a dozen people to eat lunch, take care of necessities, and get back to the meeting. Especially if they take a detour through Bismarck, which I just might do.)
1:15 PM: Action Plan
5 Ways Profit and 4 Ways Business Building Strategies (Created on day with Team)
(“Created on day with Team” means “We’ll all talk simultaneously and spout off a bunch of random, inconsistent, impractical, off-topic nonsense, and Lori will write it down and attempt to form it into something that won’t make us look like absolute vapor-brains.”)
2:30 PM: Support Risk Taking
(How risky would it be to make a break for the door right now???)
2:40 PM: 100% Involvement/Inclusion
(I can only promise 75% involvement. Any more than that and my brain begins to swell. I shall have to fake the other 25%.)
2:45 PM: Break (15 minutes)
(See “9:45 AM.”)
3:00 PM: IVVM (Dream Builder)
(I have a huge problem with this part every time. This coach is all about attracting wealth and success, much like The Secret, and simply saying “I will achieve/have/experience this by this date” and it will happen. This has thus far not proven true for me. The other part of the problem is that they encourage our personal dreams and goals as much as business ones. Since all my personal goals and dreams involve things like a remote northwoods island full of dogs, a wildly successful writing career, and never, ever having a “real job” again, I’m not sure my goals are exactly compatible with dreams for the business. With work, I have a hard time looking ahead to next month, let alone 5 and 10-year plans.)
3:15 PM: Top 7 Things Learned Today
(1. Next time, claim to have leprosy.)
3:45 PM: Team WIFLE
(Do you know about WIFLEs? It stands for “What I Feel Like Expressing Is.” You then express whatever needs expressing. Work-related, personal, weather, good news, concerns, whatever is on your mind, always concluding with, “and that’s what I feel like expressing.” Everyone then says, “Thank you, Lori.” I cannot spontaneously WIFLE. When we do this at staff meetings, I have to mentally compose my WIFLE the night before. This is one of those spectacularly lame “getting to know each other as individual human beings” things.
Hey. Remember me? I’m an introvert. That’s all you need to know.)
4:15 PM: Conclusion: Time to Get Into Action
(“Time to get ready to take a nap.”)
At 4:30, I get to exit the parking lot, leaving behind skid marks and a huge, billowing cloud of dust.
Naturally, no Team Day is complete without a bunch of personality profiles and “what I think of our team and business” stuff. We had to fill out and fax in all that stuff this week. I’ve done about 688 of those personality profiles over the years, and guess what? I’m an introvert. (See Team WIFLE) I’ve always been an introvert. I will always be an introvert. Anyone who knows me at all is aware of the fact that I’m an introvert. They also know I’m highly anal-retentive, non-confrontational, and very unpleasant when pushed past my tolerance levels. They’ve seen the results.
Still, I am tired of a lot of the intra-team behaviors that we haven’t managed to change or eliminate. If by some wildly improbable chance this helps fix some of those, it might be sort of worth it. Maybe. Possibly.
I will be ten times more tired at the end of this Alignment Day thing than I ever am after a regular work day. All this people stuff sucks the energy right out of me. It’s a ton of effort and extraordinarily draining for an introvert to pretend to be able to function with normal people, non-stop, for an entire day. That’s why I was so thrilled when we were finally able to assign me to practice management full-time and get me the hell away from the front desk forever.
It may be somewhat more uncomfortable than usual this time around, though, since at least some of the staff probably sees me as the Wicked Witch right now, following last week’s careless screw-ups and subsequent Consequences. We’ve been saying for ages, “Hey, one more screw-up or one more crappy attitude and there are going to be some Consequences, gosh darn it!” Yet until then, no Consequences ever manifested. So maybe it’s not so strange that people actually were surprised when it happened. But I know how to be the Bad Guy now, when I have to be. I don’t like it, but I like warning people about the same errors and attitude issues till my tongue goes numb even less.
Maybe the cure for being an introvert is just getting too pissed off to remember that you are one.