Sunday, October 4, 2009

IN YOUR BUSINESS Solving Workplace Worries


I work for a company that encourages employees to get together as a group to attend planned activities such as bowling, sports events, etc. They feel that this is a way of increasing team effectiveness, if we also participate in casual time together, too. My problem is that I never go to any of the events, which my department hosts about six times a year. I am wondering if I look like someone who is not a team player as a result? As much time as I spend at work with these people, I am really just not interested in this "casual time" together. What do you think?

Sales Division
Birmingham, AL

Dear Linda:

Let's look at the upside first: it really is prettty commendable that your company encourages this kind of regular synergy between employees. Obviously, they recognize that people who can play together will often work together much better, too. Our work relationships are so one-dimensional in that we only get to know people in their "work mode", which can be absent of the great personality factors we discover in casual situations.

Activities away from work allow us to see others more relaxed, and willing to be engaged in conversation that let us learn what kind of person they are as a friend, mom or dad, husband or wife, etc. We get to see other things about them, and experience them more "relationally" than we do during work hours (of course, sometimes that can be a bad thing). Overall, the ethic here is that building the casual relationships among the workers increases the productivity and satisfaction among them while on the job.

The downside is that you might experience negative situations that work out just the opposite. Not all employees shine outside of the workplace, even though they appear "sterling" while they are there. You can come away surprised and in dismay at "off-hours" antics.

In answer to your question, I think you should at least make an effort to attend one or two of the events, just to show you believe in the work/play ethic itself. Most of us have only "all work and no play" with our co-workers, so these planned activities really are a kind of cool opportunity to get to know each other on another level. While it may not be making you look bad by not attending, playing along with the team serves to make you look very good in the game.


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