When Bad Gets Worse
The President of the company I
work for is basically a nice guy.
His name is Dick.
Dick is a genius - high IQ and all -
a real techno-genius with a
perfectly balanced life including
work, health, family and and love
for the environment. Dick dresses
true to the corporate cazzz' style
of pressed khakis, oxford or polo
shirt, leather belt, no socks in the
Dick is not afraid to wear a melon
or mauve colored polo.
Dick jogs daily, has a perfect tan,
attends most of his two blond
children's sporting events, drinks
bottled water and recycles. His wife
is a perfect size 2, adores him and
always has enough room in her Lexus
RX for another child - always has
enough room at the gourmet dinner
table for a golfing buddy Dick may
Dick is not too ostentatious. Though
he is the President of a technology
company, he drives a Toyota Avalon
(not a BMW) and is willing to wear
Ralph Lauren polo shirts purchased
at Marshall's. His
down-to-earth nature emerges when he
greets employees by name - usually
the right name, but that karma
quickly dissolves after the two
seconds of eye contact that
compliment the personal greeting.
Dick wants to know about you - but
not that much about you. He's
secretly a compulsive introvert,
happiest with his head in sand when
it comes to issues that deal with
Dick's best friend at work is his
computer monitor which always
delivers exactly what he requests -
nice, neat little pieces of data
that don't have feelings, don't talk
back and always deliver the right
answers (and only the answers he
Dick feels most uncomfortable when
he is forced to interact with
Humans. If there is ever a human
conflict at the company that
warrants his attention, he almost
always defers the to the VP of Human
Resources, Lester Goldberg, a
megalomaniac with a secret desire is
plant a car bomb in Dick's Avalon
leaving an open path for Lester to
assume Dick's position in the corner
office. Lester detests
hates humans, but walks around in
the disguise of the 'caring,
compassionate, interested' leader
who sees to it
that all the human needs are met.
Those who cross Lester, always
end up taking the 'long walk' to the
conference room, which ends with the
HR Manager escorting the unlucky sap
to the elevator after the
receptionist gathers personal
belongings from his or her cube....
Which is immediately followed by a
corporate-wide email stating : "
_____ no longer works here. Please
remove them from your address book."
Back to Dick:
Dick doesn't believe in paper which
works nicely with his tree-hugging
We have a policy of NO PAPER MEMOS
at our company which is listed just
under the policy that states LIMIT
VERBAL COMMUNICATION WHEN POSSIBLE
in our CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
Verbal communication wastes far too
much time and only encourages gossip
undesirable interruptions thus
leading to a reduction in overall
We maximize our use of electronic
mail for corporate communication.
It's more efficient, less waste, and
is an excellent tracking tool.
Of course, the most common two
phrases heard at the company are "I
time" and "Put that in an e-mail".
Coming in a close second behind
those two phrases are: "You didn't
answer my e-mail" and "I sent you an
e-mail on that, but got no
is often superseded by "I'm so
swamped, I spent hours today just
plowing through my e-mail"
Dick is so efficient with his own
work that he doesn't need an
administrative assistant. In fact,
he believes we should all
administrate ourselves. Most people
believe that Dick doesn't have an
Admin Assistant because he doesn't
want to have to talk to one, or have
the Assistant talk to him. But...
since Dick is President, there are a
few occasions when he does need a
little assistance so his
administrative tasks are rotated
weekly throughout the HR team whose
cubes are conveniently located just
outside his corner office door.
I'm on the HR Team. At our Friday
afternoon HR meetings we vote on who
will be assigned to "Dick support"
the next week. At the
end of the meeting, whoever was on
"Dick support" the previous week
passes the HR jock strap to next
week's "Dick supporter."
Our HR Friday meetings are grueling
because we focus on how we will
unsuccessfully add some value to the
"human" experience in our anti-human
corporate environment. So in an
effort to end our meeting on a light
note we share "Dick support" stories
from previous weeks. At the end of
the month we vote on the most
ridiculous story and issue the
monthly "Dick Support Award."
This is my latest "Dick support"
story; though I'm disappointed it
didn't win the prize.
MY DICK SUPPORT STORY
The chair in my cube lies exactly 14
feet from Dick's chair, which also
works out to eighteen paces ...
which also works out to
approximately 6 seconds when you
endeavor to walk from his chair to
my chair. As part of my job as
Corporate Trainer, I recently sent
out a company wide email warmly
(though electronically) welcoming
the four new hires joining our staff
that particular week, introducing
them to the other corporate humans
with a shot bio on each new hire.
Dick replied to my email. At the
time we were both sitting at our
computers 14 feet away from each
Dick's reply read .... Mindie, don't
I meet with these new hires? I can't
remember if I'm supposed to come to
the Orientation and give my talk on
the Corporate Strategy or if I meet
with a bunch of them monthly.
My response back: Dick, you told
me you didn't want to come to the
Orientation due to your schedule.
You wanted to meet with new hires
once we had at least ten so we
created "Breakfast with the
President" (coffee, juice and fruit
- no Danish or muffins). These four
new hires make up a total of eight
since your last Breakfast with the
(15 minutes later .... We're still
at our desks)
Dick: Mindie, when will we have at
My reply: In two weeks we have six
new hires coming aboard. That will
make 14 new hires for the meeting.
(20 minutes later .... Still at our
Dick's reply: I
think 14 is too many. It won't feel
as personal for them.
Would you like me to schedule a
meeting then for these eight?
Dick's reply: What
do you think?
I think now would be fine. Eight is
a good number around the conference
table and you'll be able to have a
more personal feel. The new hires
won't feel so lost in the crowd. Do
you want me to schedule the meeting
and reserve the conference room?
(2 hours later)
Actually, I'm swamped for the next
three weeks. I can't fit a meeting
in until next month.
In three weeks we will have a total
of nine new hires. Adding them to
the existing eight will give you a
total of seventeen. You won't have
that 'personal feeling' that you're
Dick's reply: Well, that's okay.
Stop by my office when I don't look
too busy and we'll see if we can't
get a date for this thing on the
calendar sometime next month. At
least if it's on the calendar, it
will remind me that I have to do it.
I may have to change it. If all else
fails, I'll have Lester (the VP of
Human Resources) stand in for me.
This prompts a vision in my mind
where Lester subs for Dick and we
rename the meeting, "Let's Meet the
VP of Human Resources" but we start
the newbies out right by putting all
the chairs against the wall and
reminding them to bring a concealed
10 emails and three hours after
Dick's initial reply to my email, I
look into his office to see him
pensively pondering a spreadsheet. I
internally try to discern if this is
a time when he "looks busy."
I try to estimate how much of Dick's
time I will take finding a date on
his already full calendar for him to
pencil in a Breakfast that will
affirm new hires that he knows he
will cancel and will assign the
affirming responsibility to a VP
whose controlling, anti-social
behavior rivals the likes of
Mussolini and Stalin.
I entered his office.
He was annoyed, but we scheduled
He cancelled the appointment and
deferred the responsibility to
Lester who resceduled it again when
all eighteen could attend at once so
we didn't have to repeat the event
and take more of Dick's time.
Wilma is the Site Manager. Davina is
the Benefits Manager. Wilma is a
nice, supportive, good-natured
person who always tries to help but
feels like a doormat. Wilma strives
to please, is ultra-sensitive and
prone to tears. Davina is sweet, but
just a tad more insightful than
following conversation takes place
between these two helpful, sensitive
HR staff members.
Davina: Wilma, Dick is upset that
you haven't removed the
plastic water bottles from the end
of his desk.
Wilma: What are you talking about?
Davina: Dick drinks two or three
bottled waters each day. You know
how he is about recycling. At the
end of the day, he neatly arranges
all of his empty bottles at the edge
of his desk. He wants whomever is on
support that week to collect them
and carry them down to the recycling
barrel in the kitchen
Wilma: How was I supposed to know
Davina: I don't know.
Wilma: How did you find out he
wanted the cans moved? Did he tell
Davina: No, I just saw the bottles
all over his office one week when I
was on support and asked him if he'd
like me to take them down to the
recycling bin. He said yes, and for
the rest of the week he stacked them
at the end of his desk. Each day I
collected them and took them down.
Wilma: Did he tell you that he was
mad at me?
Davina: Well, not exactly. He said
that HR, particularly Wilma, needed
a little more training on how to be
more supportive and when I asked him
why, he pointed to about 12 bottles
stacked up on the floor next to his
desk. Then I figured it out. This is
your week for Dick support.
Wilma can't seem to do anything
Wilma also handles all of Dick's
travel arrangements. He had to
attend a conference in Detroit and
meet the new CEO. He emailed Wilma
and asked her to make the travel
arrangements. In the email, he
specifically asked Wilma to include
directions FROM the hotel TO the
airport. Wilma, not being a total
dummy, wondered why he would need
directions to go from the hotel to
airport when clearly he needed to
first get from the airport to the
hotel. However, the email said what
the email said. She secretly
reminded herself that Dick is a
data-freak that values the precise
and exact above all else - even
money, power or success. Should she
dare ask him if he really meant
"directions from the airport to the
hotel - not vice versa? Nooooo. The
repercussions would be intolerable.
He would never admit he was wrong.
Wilma decided that she would not
think for herself - she would simply
follow the directive given by Dick,
even if it was mistakenly written.
The week after Dick's trip to
Detroit, Gigi, the Director of
Coporate Services (and Wilma's boss)
called Wilma into her
office and informed her that Dick
was most displeased with the
directions provided for his trip to
Detroit. Gigi said that Dick tried
to follow Wilma's directions but
ended up in a "less than desirable"
neighborhood in Detroit for several
hours. Then he had to explain the
new CEO why he was several hours
late for their first meeting. Dick
was stuck offering the lame excuse
that he has less than adequate admin
support at the office but will
rectify the situation as soon as he
returns home. He'd have Gigi
dispense the proper disciplinary
actions for this major offense.
Wilma explained her side of the
story to Gigi and showed Dick's
email with the request for
directions from the hotel to the
airport. Gigi told her wrote a
disciplinary referral for Wilma's
Personnel file stating that she
should have thought "outside of the
box" and considered that Dick
probably needed both sets of
directions and provided them
Then Wilma cried. Gigi felt sorry
for Wilma so she took her to lunch.
Though Wilma got written up for not
reading Dick's mind, she shared the
story at the Friday afternoon HR
meeting and was rewarded by her HR
team (including Gigi) by getting the
prize for "Dick Support Story of the
Month." What's the reward?
The jock strap skips you next month.
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