Here’s the editorial for SSC today and while it’s a humorous story about asking for donuts and getting a free breakfast for everyone, it’s also a cautionary tale for those trying to do good as managers, and even for employees submitting suggestions.
Looking back, I still think it was a fair suggestion in response to a request for ideas, I think putting a couple dozen whatevers on the CIO’s desk every Fri morning is a great way to encourage cross team chat, and a chance for the CIO to get some face time with people they don’t get to see as much as they’d like.
At the time money was plentiful and so throwing cash at the idea to satisfy those who wanted yogurt, but in leaner times, could the goal still be accomplished? I think so, and one easy way might be to:
- Rotate through the team, having each person take a turn at picking up breakfast. Maybe even let them come up new breakfast sources to use the $30 or so budget. Nothing like having to get up a little early to stop and get the food to make you appreciate someone else doing it (and someone else paying for it!)
- Try to accommodate the ones who don’t want a chocolate covered donut, but not to the point of craziness. Not the end of the world if everyone knows this Fri is donut day and if you’re on a diet, you bring your yogurt or banana or whatever. As long as they aren’t excluded too often, it works.
Beyond breakfast though, this can happen with any idea. Start with a basic idea and before you send it in, stop and think about it. What is the real cost? Who will do the work to make it happen? Is it inclusive, or just something that benefits a small subset? Can you find a way to derive more than just good will from it?
Of course, Steve Jones should have posted this on Friday with a coupon for all the SSC readers to get a free donut!
3 thoughts on “The Breakfast Plan Goes Awry”
I blogged about somewhat similar stuff Andy – would love your comments: http://sqlblog.com/blogs/andy_leonard/archive/2010/06/25/institutionalized.aspx
Are you suggesting that each team member buy with their own money? (your example wasn’t clear so I’ll assume you were.) My experience has been that some would rather not have “breakfast day”, even as enjoyable as it is, if they are responsible for a portion of the money that’s involved. Speaking as a member of single-income family of 4 (yes, I’m the income), our budget isn’t easily accomodating so I’d be the one that would have to inform the boss that I can’t participate. This leaves him two options. Cancel “breakfast day” for everyone (and we all know that eventually everyone would find out it was my fault) or continue with it and give me the “Dunce” hat every Friday,as I sit on the side-lines unable to parrticipate. My attitude is strong enough that I don’t think it would bother me, but I’m not certain that everyone else with tight budgets will be so forgiving and this second scenario would cause them to feel like an outcast. Furthermore, there are some that can’t afford it and wouldn’t say anything and every time there turn comes around they’ll actually have a stressful Friday rather than a motivating and rewarding one.
My two cents.
Gabe, no, not suggesting each team member buy their own. I always try to make my own events like this as inclusive as possible, which goes beyond money – realizing that not everyone enjoys bars, dancing, etc. That’s even more of a concern with a repeating event. Can’t make it perfect, but can try to be sensitive of views of all involved.
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