The Office Well-Being Executive Manager

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The corridors of corporate life used to experience it at least once a day, typically around 3 PM. Those of you with a longer memory say it also occurred in the morning, but alas, those days are reluctantly gone, possibly, never to be repeated.

The eagerly awaited activity heralded an opportunity to have a short break from your normal work routine and to refresh your mind with small morsels of needed sustenance.

It was a welcome time for all pens to be lowered, inky nibs blotted, and writing paper pushed aside on your desk to make room for the appreciated earthenware additions.

For a brief few minutes, the worker could engage in a pseudo-flirtatious social dialogue and build a non-threatening personal rapport with the service provider, who was usually wearing a bland coloured corporate pinafore apron. Their official work title was “Tea Lady”, but they were the backbone of many successful organizations.

No office door was ever closed to the Tea Lady. They traversed the building pulling a trolley that was equipped with a large teapot, hot water, coffee, milk, a selection of biscuits (or cakes if you were lucky), and an array of cups and saucers, some of which occasionally matched. Their arrival could be heard well before they reached your desk, owing to the rattling of the crockery and the heightened conversation that they would always generate.

The role of Tea Lady was an unrecognized strategic cog in the corporate organizational hierarchy as they were privy to all levels of the business, from senior management, right down to the new starter or graduate. They could sense the mood of the corporate office, whether it was dynamic and innovative, or one that was struggling and ready to implode. The Tea Lady became the confidant of many employees, a person that they could talk to about work, home-life or their personal ambitions.

Business today needs a modern version of the Tea Lady, which would probably now have the more acceptable corporate title of “Office Well-Being Manager”. Many organizations have tried to foster various methods of casual communication within the corporate office with the introduction of “Chatter”, “Yammer” and other electronic applications, but none have been as effective as the old fashioned Tea Lady.

So why not reinvigorate the Tea Lady role with a more modern version?

Many employees want to have access to their senior management team, but may be too shy or a tad embarrassed to engage them in an open forum. One solution is to have a weekly (or monthly) roster where your Executive Team takes it in turns to be “Office Well-Being Executive Manager”. Yes, they would walk the office corridors with an electric powered beverage trolley fully equipped with the latest coffee (short black, long black, latte, cappuccino, flat white), tea (Early Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, herbal), soymilk chai lattes, and a selection of cakes (high fat, low fat, gluten free) or fruit. Besides your Executive Team learning new catering skills that they can add to their already impressive CVs, they would have instantaneous access to the pulse of the business and an opportunity to gain an insight on the nuances of their staff (and vice-versa).

So, when next you plan to have a well-earned rest break from your computer, may I suggest that you first stop, and listen. Hopefully you will hear the buzz of your corporately branded electric beverage trolley as it happily approaches your desk. Bon appetite!

The Mesmeric Corporate Prognosis

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My esteemed colleagues, yes, I can sense your excitement and anticipation! But please relax as you need not wait any longer! After years of pain staking personal research sitting in the entrance foyers of the top 100 global companies, I am now pleased to announce that I have discovered the origins of this incapacitating corporate behavioural phenomenon.

This crippling condition that has inhibited the innovative thinking processes of employees for many decades, now has a medical name, that being “Corporate Mesmeric Innovative Retardation”, or CMIR for short. But more importantly, there is an antidote that is quite painless, and one that can be quickly administered to the corporate employee with immediate effect.

How did I discover this condition? Well, the intensive research required a high level of painstaking incognito behaviour on my behalf involving the wearing a beige nondescript suit, together with countless hours reading The Times, The Wall Street Journal and other local newspapers so as to not be noticed by the employees as they entered the corporate office. Unfortunately, I am still scared by the lack of fashion colour and style, but it was a burden that I was willing to bare for the sake of worldly corporate progress, I’m told the nightmares will eventually subside. The upside, is that my knowledge of world affairs, including the stock market, has resulted in various personal financial gains derived from highly profitable share trading, and a vast array of exclusive invitations to attend numerous London and New York high society trivia quizzes where I am deemed the font of all knowledge, and a most prized team member.

So what did the extensive research tell me? Although my study will be printed in next month’s edition of the Harvard Business Review, I’m sure that the HBR Publisher won’t mind me providing you all with a brief overview of my findings.

They key aspect to my world breaking research was the use of eagled-eyed observation. After countless detailed and personally exhaustive people watching experiences, I noticed the behaviour of all employees (particularly the attractive ones) as they entered the corporate office first thing in the morning, and then as they left that evening. The behavioural change in those inflicted employees at some businesses was profound, it was almost as if I was looking at two different people! Prior to them walking into the corporate reception area, they had a happy persona and exhibited all the normal signs of chirpiness, a willingness of thought, and a noticeable desire to learn. But once their foot stepped onto the marble tiled entrance foyer, it was as if an invisible intensely powerful force quickly sucked all the creativity from them, to which an innovative void remained until they departed the building at 5 PM sharp. At 5:01 PM, their creative vacuum was immediately replaced with their original pre-work positive behaviour. Yes, it was truly remarkable observation to behold!

Although quite mystifying, not all corporate businesses had employees that suffered from the dreaded CMIR condition. To understand the cause as to why this unexplained phenomenon may have occurred, I had to dig deeper into the observational evidence and decided to introduce the HR Managers of the companies studied into the rich complexity, and subtle machinations, of my academic research. After numerous soy milk chai lattes, and what seemed like an endless consumption of gluten-free bagels, I came to a momentous and decisive eureka moment. Apparently, the culture of the organization had a direct correlation with the onset of the CMIR. Should the culture be viewed negatively, then a high frequency of CMIR suffers prevailed. The trigger for most employees who had acute CMIR was the initial sighting of the company logo, typically first seen when they entered the company premises in the morning.  On viewing the logo, a negative and mesmeric effect immediately struck down the creatively-fragile employee resulting in a mind destroying innovation purge, luckily this was a reversible retardation that quickly ceased when exiting the building at 5 PM.

Yes, you are correct in assuming that those companies that had a positive and dynamic corporate culture that was well respected, and one that harmoniously and gleefully fitted with the employee’s lifestyle goals, experienced no CMIR sufferers. So the answer is simple. To eradicate any corrosive and long-term damaging CMIR influences in your business, management do need to focus on the right corporate culture to ensure that their business logo immediately inspires your employees when first sighted as they enter your office.

And should you need any assistance in the process, my consulting fees are indeed negotiable (but please, no gluten free bagels).