Teamwork

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I just started a new job. I am working in a processing center. In my younger days, this type of place was called a “warehouse”, but in these days of verbal inflation one has to use the prevailing terminology. I basically work as a shipper. It’s easy work, but surprisingly tiring.

Today I went to a company orientation. This is required of all new hires. There were about six of us in a conference room. A woman from the Human Resources department had each one of us introduce himself or herself to the group. We each had tell about something interesting we had done during the summer. I said that all I had done all summer was look for a job.

The woman then showed us a video of the company CEO. He told us that we were not employees, but “team members”. He also said that we didn’t have managers, but a “leadership team”. He then talked about how much he liked to fish. He said that fishing made him realize that we need to conserve our rivers. He then showed pictures of his family, including his photogenic daughters, which was nice.

The HR woman then divided us into groups. Each group had to take some objects, such as string, paper, etc., and construct something that would float on water. The purpose of this exercise was to teach us about teamwork. I remember that when I was at Coca-Cola, the company would periodically make us do these sorts of teamwork exercises. We would be divided into groups, which would then have to construct things or carry out certain tasks. A lot of companies seem to be doing these sorts of things nowadays. It’s not clear to me why they do this. I can only guess that it’s deprogramming for people who read Ayn Rand novels. (One can imagine how Harry Roark would react to one of these exercises. He would break out the dynamite.) I’m proud to say that the little raft my team made floated. Of course, it would have been hard for it not to, considering the materials we were using.

The HR woman then showed us a video about safety. The advice it gave was pretty sensible (lift with your legs, never twist your body, hold things close to your body when carrying them, etc.). We each then had to sign a document saying that we had watched and understood the video. The HR woman then went over an informational booklet about the company. I did the best I could to stay awake.

Afterwards a woman who attended the orientation with me drove me back to the warehouse – er, I mean processing center. She had recently graduated from college with a degree in geology. She was a single mother with two children. Like me, she had spent months looking for a job. She told me that she must have sent out over a hundred resumes. She took a job at the, uh, processing center because she was desperate. She didn’t seem to care much for her job, pulling product from the shelves. She called it “robot work”. I tried to console her by telling her that the company treats its employees – er, team members – better than other places I’ve worked for. Indeed, some of the places I’ve been at treated people very badly. This didn’t seem to make her feel any better. And when I thought about it, I realized there is now reason why it should.

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