Wednesday, April 28, 2004

More on Teamwork

More on Teamwork

Just a brief story about one of those teamwork seminars I had to attend while working for my former employer.

I had to go to Nashville for these monthly training sessions. They weren't so bad. They'd eat up anywhere from a half-day to a full-day, and that was just that much time I'd not have to spend doing the same thing I did every day.

One of the training sessions was a Focus on Teamwork. And it came complete with handouts, and a PowerPoint Presentation (my old boss had the biggest hard-on for PowerPoint), and teamwork and trust exercises.

I was witness to a conversation among three people, the exercise leader, and two of the people who worked at the home plant in Nashville, who were participating in a trust exercise. I'll call the last two Jim and George.

In the exercise, Jim was blindfolded, and was supposed to follow George's instructions to walk across the room around a set of obstacles (chairs), and select a specific envelope off the table from a selection of envelopes. And in the envelope was supposed to be a prize (coupon for a free trip to Shoney's Breakfast Bar). I think there may have been a time limit.

I don't rightly remember how we got to this point, where Jim and George got to play for the free buffet breakfast. All I know is that the goof off from Cookeville and I didn't qualify. Because we each had problems trusting a person we'd just met. Even in the name of such a grand prize as the Shoney's Breakfast Bar.

Anyway, this was the exchange in the trust exercise.

It started when Jim took off his blindfold.

Leader: Now Jim, I want you to put your blindfold on, and listen to George's instructions, and he'll instruct you which way to go to pick up the prize.

Jim: I don't want to.

Leader: What do you mean?

Jim: He'll make me crash.

(I had to laugh at him saying his partner would make him crash in the middle of a nine-pace journey).

George, who took on the biggest, most unintended, most unconvincing Who, Me? face in all the world: No I won't.

Leader: Jim just put your blindfold on, and trust George. He won't lead you wrong.

Jim: Yes he will.

George: No I won't.

Leader: You need to learn to trust your co-workers.

Jim: I trust my co-workers. I just don't trust George.

George (honestly offended): Why not?

Leader: He won't lead you wrong. Just do the exercise, Jim. You have to trust George.

George: Yeah.

Jim (for whom confession is good): But I don't trust him. He won't give me my vacation like he says he will. He steals supplies out of my office, and I think it's him that's been eating bits of my lunch out of the fridge....

George: Naw, it ain't!

Leader (rolling his eyes): George! Are you going to lead him wrong?

George: I ain't stealin' your lunch.

Leader (getting upset): George: Are you going to lead him wrong?

George (matter of factly): I might.

Jim: See?

Leader: George!

Jim: Yeah he is.

George: No I'm not.

This exchange went on longer than it ever should have.

It ended with Jim finally trusting his co-worker. But being unable to comprehend simple instructions like, turn left. Because Jim ended up tripping over the chair obstacle and then not being able to count the third in a series of five. He ran out of time.

It was all good, in the end, because we all ended up getting free breakfast bar coupons.

But it ended up being very sad. Because I lost mine.

It is very possible that the untrustworthy George stole it, now that I think about it.


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