Starting in new organizations can be a fun experience. Your first month usually consists of a lot of 1 on 1’s where your allowed to talk unabashedly about how great you are (they expect this, since they only hire the best) and attend a lot of training to help you get oriented into the culture.
In training you’re usually shown a book that the company culture is based on. Sometimes it’s a folksy memoir of the founding fathers of the company, who gallantly explain how they became successful because they made it a point to shake each and every customers hand for thirty years. Sometimes it’s a book from the business world, something that’s catchy and shakes things up. Always there’s the training department, with their array of ice breakers, pails of markers, chart paper and crayons and knowing smiles.
Trainers are forced, by profession to be happy, smiling people. They’ve been doing it for so long it comes as second nature, smile, smile, smile. Each smile has a meaning, the half smile – You’re an idiot, but as an HR professional, I will simply comfort you, Full Bright, all teeth smile: You’ve read the book, your responding with enthusiasm….I could hug you, but I am an HR Professional so I won’t, The Knowing Smile: I am going to pretend to feel your pain with this smile, but all I can really think about is what I am having for lunch. Their vocabulary is also interesting. Over the years they’ve picked up neat little phrases like sacred cows, paradigm shifts, key priorities, landmines etc. They’ve also developed the knowing look to perfection.
My orientation this morning went like this:
Trainer: Group, are you aware that each organization has many landmines and sacred cows built into its culture?
(Three second pause to let the effect settle in- I can actually see her counting in her head, one Mississippi, two Mississippi …)
Trainer: CP can you think of a time when you unknowingly trampled a sacred cow in your past life
CP: (Pauses and thinks of ex boss, who really was a cow)
Trainer (Staring intently at CP): IT was hard wasn’t it?
CP: (Uncomfortable with the stare…).err…yes?
Trainer: I know….(and stares at me for three more Mississippi’s with a comforting smile..)