Friday

Friday 18/10/2002It's training day! As we're part of CNET, a great American company, we get the great American training.

Friday 18/10/2002
It's training day! As we're part of CNET, a great American company, we get the great American training. Herds of assorted tech team, ad sales, admin and editorial types are placed around tables and given an assortment of things to do. The aim -- to more closely understand our talents and wishes and how we align them with the expectations of the company. The method -- sorting through hundreds of cards and filling in forms. I fell at the first: having to choose between binary options such as "I like to be an expert in one thing" and "I like to know a little about a lot", I stuck my hand up and said "But I have to know a lot about a lot..." "Well, do what you can." said the bright and breezy mistress of ceremonies. The rest weren't much better: if your mind doesn't work along the lines laid down, you're not going to get very far. The best ones were the Value Cards. Brightly coloured, these were labelled with such wholesome goodness as "Creativity", "Respect", "Spiritual Growth", "Preparedness To Subsume Self To Whims Of Glorious Leaders" and so on. These were illustrated with various inspiring drawings, just in case we didn't get the message -- "Perseverance" had a little train chugging up a hill, "Fairness" a pair of scales, that sort of thing. "Spiritual Growth " was a surprised pigeon on a spring. I'm still thinking about that one. So we sat down and decided whether we rated "Intimacy" more important than "Creativity", "Integrity" ahead of "Family" and so on. I looked in vain for cards labelled "Mendacity", "Greed", "The Pub", "Jealousy" or "Iconoclastic Desire To Tear Down And Destroy" -- attributes I have found intrinsic to my own motivation and that of my fellow workers -- but failed to find them. Among the 40 or 50 pre-designed cards, we were given one blank Wild Card to write the attribute of our choice (illustration optional), but it had a glossy coating and our pens left no mark. I stuck my hand up and said "But I can't write down what I want to say". "You know what you mean, and that's what matters," said the trainer. Hmf. After we had ruthlessly classified our primary values -- I scratched "Cake" on my blank card using a fingernail -- it was time to write down what we had learned. If you're not very good at your job you become unhappy. Golly! So, better find out whether we're any good at our jobs. We then compared our ideal job with our actual job by ticking various boxes. I broke at this bit -- my ideal job involves writing novels for six months on the shores of a lake, then spending the next six in the great fleshpots of the world. Their ideal job revolved around relationships with managers, teamwork, taking responsibility for corporate growth and so on. I pondered sticking my hand up again, but by this time the Proustian recollection of primary school lessons had grown so strong I was in real danger of calling our esteemed HR professional guide "Miss". So I kept schtumm. And so it went on, though I never did find out what the pastel-shaded mandala in the middle of the table was for. I promise to pay more attention in class next time. At the end, I discovered that I am unaligned with the corporate value set. I can't have sounded the right note of concern at this self discovery because the serene composure of the trainer became disturbed at this point: "You're not allowed to say that!" she said, wondering whether to take me seriously or not. I would have played the "Irony" card, but that too seemed to be missing from the pack. There is one great and undeniable benefit from this sort of exercise: it gives a man one hell of a thirst. And on a Friday afternoon as well. My. What is a man to do? To have your say online click on TalkBack and go to the ZDNet UK forums.

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