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Opinion: The Wednesday Whinge - staff away days

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Opinion: The Wednesday Whinge - staff away days

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing

david brent david brent

Following last week's inception of the 'Wednesday Whinge', 24housing deputy editor Brian Church finds another target for heated ridicule, in this 'I wonder how many Wednesdays he can keep this up for' feature. 

One of the best things about housing chief executives is they’re far too loaded to take offence. Insults just roll off their wallets.

But I’ll try my best (and for those leaders of the free world too busy to read right now, please zoom to the end for one seriously sensible suggestion).

You know what gets me really angry? Away days or staff days or employee days. Whatever you call them, they are a waste of time and money and the most appalling exercise in self-congratulatory phoniness since the HCA released their annual statistics this morning (HCA guys, I’m JOKING, I love you all, and that Rosey’s a genuine good bloke).

I’m still angry. I hate it when housing associations make a great show of moving out of the office and having a chummy get-together, allegedly to listen to everybody’s views and plan the next year ahead.

Whatever the organisation, every such away day will have three items in common:

1)    Some SMTI (senior management team idiot) will turn up in jeans and whacky shirt, smile all day and chat away as happy as Larry. You know something amazing? People earning 100k plus for wasting everybody else’s time tend to be happy.  

2)    The day will start with a team exercise never tried before, like, “Guys, guys! Let’s blindfold every Sagittarius and get them to carve a slice of watermelon on the top step of a ladder using directions shouted out by everybody born in Manchester and Bristol!” It’s a sign of how terrifyingly bad these days are that you’re trying to work out whether this really happened.

3)    The first serious item of business will always be neutral, objective and keen to find the real truth as to how you’ve performed as a group. Something like pinning 100 fantabulous things you’ve done in the past year to a big board with funny pictures on it and then reading them out with all present forced to clap after every item!

So, as this whinge winds down, if you’re a chief executive and you genuinely want to find out what your employees think of you and your organisation (no, I’m being serious) do these two things for me.

One, cancel all away days. Just give your staff a day off.

Second, put a ballot box in reception. Every Monday, every employee gets given a piece of paper on which they tick one of two squares (secretly of course) and then put it in the box. The paper has this question: “On the whole, do you think this organisation is well led?” Do *not* place a separate box for NO votes just inside the disabled toilets.

The results are then counted by someone reliable and honest (anyone outside of finance will do) and put up on the company’s internal website at noon that day. You repeat this exercise every Monday every week. You’d soon find out what’s really going on.

Then again, you may not want to know…

pw (post-whinge)

Many thanks to everyone who commented on last week’s Wednesday Whinge about social media. I’ll reply in greater detail in the next edition of 24housing magazine but just a couple of points here.

First, what a nice lot you are. I insulted you, albeit jokingly, and almost without exception you were reasoned, calm and keen to persuade me of the error of my ways.

Second, I love your self-belief, however misguided or medicinal. The common response to my declaration of war on Twitter was let’s discuss it…on Twitter! Though I fear you may have missed MY ONE SINGLE BLOODY POINT, I do admire your cheek, I really do. But no.

Now, if you want a stand-up debate in front of a real audience, then I’m on. Any time, any day, anywhere (except for Telford). I’m sure my vast ignorance would shine through and I’d be roundly thrashed, verbally speaking, but it’s the least I can do for my little digifriends.

I’ve really become quite fond of you. #getaproperjob 

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