Why staff events are a pretentious affair

Employee parties are a poisoned chalice. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Employee parties are a poisoned chalice. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Last week our team met to discuss the company’s way forward for 2017.

We were actually supposed to hold the meeting in Quarter 1 but it was postponed due to changes in management. 

I was surprised at how HR was managing the event this time around because I was told that I belonged to a team called CEO’s Office.

I got more perplexed when Tom, the acting HR manager, came over for a discussion. “Josphat,’’ he said, ‘‘I expect you to share what you think will be your goals and priorities for 2017 during the meeting.”

I told him, “well, If you guys had sorted out my job description I would be clear on the goals I need to share, but right now I do not know.”

He gave me a funny laugh and said, “well, you know how this place is, things are fluid and always moving, you need to be agile.” I shared my concerns with Tom for the next five minutes but he was determined to stick to his side of the argument. I decided to work on what I thought were my priorities.

The team meeting was exciting especially because we went out of town. The first day’s topic was Looking Back and Going Forward.

We shared what we thought had gone well in 2016 and what we hoped would go well in 2017. 

I realised that it was more like a beauty contest with some people exaggerating their achievements and plans.

I found it strange and dishonest considering that we were almost half-way through the year. The CEO wrapped up the session by critiquing our goals.

He complemented us in the first 10 minutes and then shredded our presentations for the next 10 before articulating his goals. He said most of our goals were operational, not strategic.

This line annoys me because it means nothing and everything and it is thrown around to put some people down. On the second day we had team building activities meant to create unity and improve dynamics.

Some of the activities were fun but others were quite dangerous. In one activity we discussed positive and negative aspects of individual team members. Some people, especially young newcomers, were quite enthusiastic about on feedback.

One said that I was good at “preparing  for business presentations” while another said that I do “not participate fully in company events.”

I was stunned by feedback that described me as “taking long to make decisions.” I also got some  good feedback though.

We were asked to come up with plans on how to support each other to become better employees. This sounded like hot air to me. I wanted to walk out but of course I couldn’t.

At the end of the second day everyone signed a pledge to “work together and be better in 2017.”

It all ended with drinks and a disco where everyone let their hair down.

I refused to completely let my hair down and disappeared into my room after midnight. No  matter what anyone  says, employee parties are a poisoned chalice. There is no way I am drinking from it.