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Workplace Artifacts - objects or situations made by human beings, with specific cultural interest or meaning in the workplace.

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You know it's official when I make up my own definition, right?  OFFICIAL...

I'm fascinated by the cultural and performance impact by a lot of the things we do in the workplace.  Sometimes we're aware of what we are doing, sometimes we aren't.  In both circumstances, the impact can be either positive of negative.

Take an executive calling someone into his or her office.  I'm not talking about setting up a meeting, I'm talking about asking someone in the cube farm to come to their office - in a public way.

Take a look at the clip below from the Showtime Series "Billions", where Bobby Axelrod asks an employee (in this case, "Dollar" Bill Stern) to come to his office and proceeds to fake a verbal fight in a soundproof office.  The clip is gold, so watch it and we'll talk after the jump (email subscribers click through to see clip below, be aware lots of language so earbuds required):

The messaging is obvious - every time you publicly ask an employee to come to your office (think, "John, can you come to my office" as you're walking by), you'll signaling multiple things:

1--You tone says it all.  If you're mad or even neutral, people think something is wrong and the person in question is about to get lit up.

2--Who you ask to visit speaks volumes.  Are you asking someone you would normally ask to come to your office or someone that doesn't usually have that access?  The less often a person is in your office, the more it means when you DO ask them to come.

3--Body language - Once someone is into your office, what does your posture say?  Two people standing is urgent in nature, which could be positive or negative.  Both sitting in a relaxed position is usually good.  The guest standing while the exec sits and looks angry is 100% bad.

4--What happens after the meeting is key.  Dollar Bill tells Bobby to go F himself, and that message is clear.  For most of the other meetings we have when employees are directed to visit your office, it's more subtle. Employee goes back to the desk and exec stays in office is neutral.  Exec inviting someone else in right after a short meeting with that employee - especially that employee's manager - is crushingly bad.  Exec doing MBWA (management by walking around) and being light hearted means it was all good.

Public requests for a visit to the office are (or should be) strategic in nature. Use them in negative ways as a manager on a regular basis, and you'll hurt your culture.  But if you need to send a clear message that someone f'd up, it's a tool whose power should not be underestimated.

Want to know what professional level, Jedi Mind Trick "come to my office" looks like?  When you use it to either deflate or create perceptions that you have favorites (deflate means you ask someone who is not perceived to be your favorite and break bread, and if you keep asking them, they become the new perceived favorite).

What's your favorite moment from the Billions clip?  Mine is the "I'm going to poke you.  Poke me back".  

Gold.

Comments

Ned Asherman

quick kiss me, there is a girl over there I want to make jealous

Brenda Maday

Great post! I really dislike fish bowl conference rooms. They create too much speculation and gossip. And, as an HR professional, just about ANY time I asked someone to meet me in my office, they were nervous. Ninety-five percent of the time, the meeting was for a positive reason.

Marcus

Great clip! Really liked the way you broke it down. Hilarious :)

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