Monday, September 17, 2007

Sing the team tune

The team assembled on the sofas today. It was the last time we would do this with our ‘manager’ – as she finishes work with us at the end of the week.

I sat beside our new girl: Anna. She seemed a little nervous – so I smiled reassuringly at her. She scared me a little last week when she used the plural 'knifes', but I know how intimidating it can be in a new office with an established team.

We took turns to share with the team our planned movements and meetings for the week. There was a lot of enthusiasm on the other sofa – as our ‘manager’ was buoyed by the prospect of having a whole new team of people to tell about the exciting things she had in her diary. Original Susan, for her part, was buoyed by the prospect of a quieter office - with even later starts and even earlier finishes.

I related my plans for the week in my usual monotone and all eyes then turned on Anna. The ‘manager’ looked at Anna in the hope that she would revive the mood. Anna overcompensated.

‘My boyfriend works for an American company you know and they begin the week with a ‘team song’. It’s really brilliant and gets them all in a smashing mood for the week.’

There was a heavy pause and I expected our ‘manager’ to dismiss this nonsense and emphasise to Anna that this was a serious meeting and that the team protocol demanded the bald recitation of the facts of meetings and plans for the week.

I was disappointed by the team leader’s disconcertingly shrill reaction.

‘That sounds brilliant! What is it?’

It transpired that Anna’s boyfriend and the rest of his team were forced to begin the week with a kind of corporate humiliation that I did not think existed beyond the Arts Council’s annual get-together and that their teambuilding anthem was ‘Zip-a-dee-do-dah’.

Our team meeting then became a discussion of which songs would befit our ethos and send us out to deliver culture to the masses with a spring in our steps. I resolutely stopped listening and focussed instead on the throbbing pain of my big toe. The sensation was caused by my resurgent fungal nail infection and was a welcome distraction.

There was some noise coming at me from the opposite sofa and I realised that the ‘manager’ was trying to engage me in the debate.

‘Come on! Join in. A team song! Any suggestions?’

I took a sip of coffee and solemnly closed my diary.

‘How about ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’.'

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