On the last incarnation of the board, I'd talked about this lovely holiday party that my husband's company is giving. They normally have their holiday party in January, because December is so hectic.
They normally have their holiday parties at fun places in town. Last year it was at a Dinner Theater, so we had dinner, the show, and deserts afterwards. The year before it was at a history center. After dinner we had free run of all the exhibits at the center (this was a fun thing for a bunch of engineers).
This year, they wanted all the people at the offices in different towns to get together for the holiday party, in the town that the main offices are in. I can understand the sentiment, but that town happens to be Fargo, North Dakota. In January. (And, the cold is finally hitting.) And, they've decided to have everyone have a "Sector" meeting before the party (the company is divided up into Sectors now, instead of divided up by city). So, not only do we have to drive to Fargo for the holiday party, but there's going to be business meetings before it.
They encourage people to bring spouses, and they're paying for a hotel room, but they're not paying for children. So, people with children either have to get a babysitter for the weekend, pay extra for the kids (and have the spouse watch the kids instead of going to the party), or leave the spouse and children at home. People without children are still having to give up most of their weekend for this Not-Really-Party.
Yesterday, we found out that my husband's sector meeting has been moved up two hours. Now we get up even earlier on a Saturday and leave 2 hours earlier than planned (it's a 4 hour drive to Fargo). When we get to the hotel, there's no guarantee that we'll be able to check in right away, so we won't be able to drop off our suitcases and change. And, spouses will have a couple more hours of hanging out, waiting for the party to start. They're thinking of arranging shopping trips for the spouses, but I live in Minneapolis -- I'm not interested in shopping in Fargo and having to haul it home.
So, why was the sector meeting moved up? Some people from the towns nearer Fargo want to get the meeting over early so they can go home. And then skip out on the holiday party. The holiday party that's being held in Fargo so all the groups can get a chance to socialize together.
I've been forced to take enough Management classes that I can see all the ways this is going wrong.
The lessons in all this are:
If you want to reward your employees for their hard work by giving them a party, then don't make the party a burden to participate in. The way the party was organized this year has been very demoralizing for the workers. Most of the lower paid people cannot afford to go this year.
If you want to have a staff meeting so that people can get to know each other, then only have a staff meeting. Make it the main purpose of the event, and don't try to split the focus by having spouses along. And, if you can, have it on a week day so you don't cheat people out of their weekend. And then don't get upset when people aren't properly grateful for the free meal and hotel room, when they had to give up their weekend for it. (Many people said that they couldn't go, and the ones who are going aren't very thrilled by it. The organizers are confused by this.)
I can already see that I'm going to be biting my tongue a lot next weekend. Or, maybe I'll just drink a lot...