Thursday, October 13, 2005

Room 101

And tonight the topic is...motivational posters at work. You know the ones. Even if you've never worked in an office that has them, you've probably visited a place where you've seen them. Stuff like this.

They normally feature a beautiful landscape, or a mountain, or an iceberg, and have words like Challenge, or Risk, or Teamwork, below the picture. It's meant to inspire you to work harder, have a vision of how the company should operate, be imaginative. There's nothing wrong with any of these things. They are noble things to aspire to. But the people who put them in your your office don't want you to realise your dreams and desires, or follow your own inspired path.

They want you to work harder at selling double glazing over the phone, so that, instead of working for the second best double glazing company in Crawley, you are working for the best. Or, when you have dealt with the fiftieth pissed-off person who has had crap service from your crap company, complaining to your Barnsley call centre, when you know your five year old isn't well, and you've got bad period pains, you can look at a picture of a rock climber and know that Winners Don't Quit, Because Quitters Don't Win, so if it's busy, you can do a bit of unpaid overtime. Rather than just taking a couple of aspirin and going home to read The Hungry Catterpillar. Because that's quitting.

A particular classic is this one. This, you will notice, is a photograph of a challenging desert summit. The caption says: always set the trail, never follow the path. Now, I'm no climber, but I've done a bit of hill walking in my time, and I know this to be rubbish. If you are walking up a hill, or mountain, whether it be a in a Morroccan desert or The Lake District (and I've done both), as any hill walker will tell you, if there is an established path you stick to it. Otherwise you risk falling off the edge of a cliff, or getting lost, which might be fun in Richmond Park, but might get you winched off said hill with several members of a mountain rescue team calling you a pillock in Cumbria, or might result in your eyes being pecked out by vultures in some countries.

I have worked in several companies in the area of sales and marketing in my life, and I would say that the worst companies had a disproportionate tendency to display these posters. I presently work for a pleasant, professional company, and we wouldn't give those posters house room.

And if you are the sort of person that likes these types of slogans, always remember that There Is No I In Team. If you like motivational posters you might find it helpful to imagine the phrase below a picture of something natural, like a horse peeing, or a rotten potato. But always remember, there might be no I, but there's a ME if you look hard enough.


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Anonymous fjl said...

Hi, cool blog, nicely written, I love a damning critique with a beginning, middle and the rest of it. And corporatism and corporate motivation techniques are top ten on my list of pet hates!
You forgot though to mention the characters who absorb it readily. I'd love to hear you on that one
:-); the manager I once had who appeared human until he physically arranged my outfit until it was "more corporate" (yes it happens.) The full blown training videos so full of cringe they leave the whole group emanating a kind of devastated silence......must have been similar in pre war Germany, come to think of it.

8:05 pm  
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