how do I get out of a mandatory lip sync battle, employee can’t touch-type, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How do I get out of a mandatory lip sync battle?

My employer is having a mandatory spirit week with a summer camp theme next week. Each day we are to participate in “voluntary” camp activities with our assigned “cabin mates” for the week. The week culminates in a lip sync battle with our cabin mates in front of 100 other employees here at our headquarters and will be recorded for our international staff. Our top three executives are going to be judges. I am very uncomfortable with this.

Normally, I would have no problem simply not participating. However, the entire week is a graded assignment in which our participation and level of enthusiasm is awarded or punished with points for the team. For example, Monday is 80’s fashion day so each cabin mate that isn’t dressed in 80’s style loses a point for the team. The lip sync battle will be graded on us all participating, having matching costumes, and the level of “spirit” displayed in our performance. Some of my cabin mates are really into this camp week while some of us are dreading it. I’d hate for their reputations to be damaged by my lack of participation. Some of the activities are manageable but pretending to sing while dancing in front of people is not.

How do I approach this while protecting my colleagues?

I despise your employer. And I will never understand why some employers think forcing people into activities they feel publicly humiliated by is good for “spirt” or team building.”

I would consider having a terrible illness or injury that day. Possibly you are severely allergic to how asinine this is.

But if you must be physically present … does it really matter if you team loses points because you don’t participate? As long as these points aren’t tied to performance reviews or raises, go ahead and lose points. Unless you work in an incredibly toxic and dysfunctional office, it’s not going to affect your team members’ reputations; they’re not responsible for you. Say, “This really isn’t for me and I’m sitting it out” and deal with the lost point. If you’re pressed, say, “No, it’s not up for debate. I’d be glad to cheer you on, but I won’t be up there.” Feel free to cite the privileges of being an adult who’s not actually at camp, and encourage your team mates who are dreading it to do the same thing. People pushing back and saying “no, this isn’t something I’m going to do” is a good thing.

2. Employee can’t touch-type

I’m a manager for a customer support team, and a couple folks have noticed one of our support team members types with two fingers (one finger on each hand, with his head looking down at his keyboard). He does great work and is hitting his KPIs, but my manager thinks we should say something to him — like offer typing lessons — to see if this would improve his productivity further. I’m hesitant to say anything, as this isn’t his first job working in front of a computer and don’t think it’s necessary if he’s meeting expectations. I also don’t want to hurt his feelings if this is just the way he likes to and has always typed. Thoughts?

Lots of people type like that, and plenty of them do excellent work. Even some prolific journalists type that way! If his work is fine, there’s nothing to fix here.

You could certainly make the offer of typing classes, as long as you’re clear that it’s just an offer and not a requirement and that he’s free to decline it without any kind of penalty … but if his work is good and his speed isn’t a problem, this isn’t something that requires fixing. (Also, you might show your manager that there’s research finding that people who peck like your employee can still type quite quickly.)

3. My boss’s boss is faking our numbers

I work at a small, local nonprofit that runs mostly on the work of volunteers. My job is to get more volunteers to sign up and have them run our programming. I am one of our many recruiters and we all work individually over several areas. Our jobs are a composite of three jobs that were lost to restructuring, meaning we have the responsibility of all three jobs and only the time for one. We are responsible for recruiting, getting money (it’s a $50 a year membership), organizing events, and whatever else needs to get done. Needless to say, we have been struggling to hit quotas because we are pulled in so many different directions. Recently we had to hit a certain number of volunteers to get Mondays in the office off for all departments. Since we are understaffed, we asked all of the other departments if they could assist in recruitment efforts as we help them often. No one helped and the goal was not reached.

This is where the problem starts. Despite not hitting goal, we still got Mondays off. At first I thought that maybe we hit close enough for it to count. When I asked for the number we hit, it was revealed that we were far, far, FAR from goal in actual numbers. My boss’ boss had gone into some local phone records and enrolled people using their name, phone number, a fake email, and the funds typically used to enroll individuals with an inability to pay. I found out because people were calling our office, irate, that they had never joined our organization and were getting telephone spam from us. When I asked what was going on, I was told that my boss had done this before and been reprimanded for it, but he was promoted to his current position soon after anyway. I was then told to “not look a gift horse in the mouth.”

I’m new to the job market (recent grad) so I was wondering if this was normal? Everyone seems pretty chill about falsified numbers, so what do I do?

No, that’s not normal. It’s fraud! Depending on the details, it might not be the type of fraud that the law would care about it, but it’s certainly internal fraud that your organization shouldn’t tolerate. No decent organization wants their employees deceiving them about their results (they can’t run well when they don’t have reliable data about what’s actually happening in their programs). And in fact, it sounds like your boss has been told not to do this, knows it’s not okay, and is doing it anyway.The fact that people around him are tolerating that says there’s something really rotten in the culture.

This is a small organization that has already cut jobs, is struggling to meet its metrics (but for some reason is giving people 20% of the work week off), and is tolerating fraud. I would be job searching.

4. My coworker asks if I’m coming to work almost every day

I work in a very small office, and a couple people (including my direct manager) have let me know that another of my coworkers asks almost every day if I’m coming into work. I start about an hour later than she does, but my schedule is consistent (and I put it on the office calendar if anything changes on a particular day). This person is senior to me and I work closely with her, but she is not my boss. My other coworkers say that they remind her every time what my hours are, but somehow she just keeps asking! I know it annoys them to keep answering this question over and over again, and she may just be awkwardly looking to make conversation, but on some level it feels like she’s passive-aggressively critiquing my schedule. At least once or twice when I’ve gone out to lunch she’s asked if I’m coming back!

I’d like to say something to her, but the fact that I’m hearing about it second hand makes it tricky. Thoughts on what I might say? Or should I just leave it be, since my actual bosses are happy with my work and my hours?

You could just leave it alone since it doesn’t sound like her constant questioning about your schedule is giving anyone else the wrong impression — but in your shoes I’d say something since I’d want to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Is she truly incapable of remembering that you start later than she does, or does she have some sort of agenda (which is what it sounds like)?

You could say this: “I’ve been told you’re often asking when I’ll be in or if I’m coming back after I leave for lunch. I want to make sure you know what my schedule is. I come in at X, an hour later than you do, and I work until Y. If you don’t see me during those hours, I’m probably at lunch or away from my desk. Is there anything I can clarify about my schedule for you?” And if it keeps happening after that: “Do you have a concern about my schedule or my availability? I’m getting the sense you’re concerned when you don’t see me here.”

Who knows if this will change anything, but I’d want to just address it head-on.

5. Is it a red flag that a job was posted three times in 14 months?

Approximately 14 months ago I saw a job advertised. It was for a retail management position in the town I work in. Then about six months ago, I saw the same job advertised. And I have just seen the exact same job advertised. Now, the company in question is a national company, but the actual physical store in question is quite small and the role is very specific to that store. So specific it would only have that one position. Although I want to apply for the position, there are a few red lights going off — mainly that the same advert has been posted three times in 14 months. And each time it’s been spaced far enough apart that it is unlikely that they are simply re-advertising due to not getting a suitable applicant. Should I be cautious about this role?

Yes. There are some jobs where this wouldn’t be a red flag, like at organizations that have multiple slots doing the same work, or are growing and continuing to add positions, or with jobs that are legitimately hard to fill or always open because they’ll take good people whenever they can find them. But for a job where you’re sure it’s the same one slot being advertised this many times in 14 months, that’s a likely indicator that for some reason they can’t keep people in the role.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply, but it does mean that if you get an interview you should ask a lot of questions (including how long the previous people held the job and why they left) and go in with a fairly high degree of skepticism.

{ 674 comments… read them below }

  1. PollyQ

    “enrolled people using their name, phone number, a fake email, and the funds typically used to enroll individuals with an inability to pay”

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but this sounds an awful lot like embezzlement.

    1. Sue

      It sounds like thay have a scholarship type fund and are dipping into it to “fund” these fake memberships. Probably not an embezzlement but the non profit’s Board should definitely be notified of this.

      1. Jaydee

        But if there is actual money involved that would normally be used to pay for some type of expenses related to volunteering for volunteers who can’t afford to pay those costs, where is that money going with these fake “volunteers?” There very well could be actual embezzlement if funds that are supposed to be paying for t-shirts, name tags, background checks, etc. for volunteers aren’t actually going to those expenses.

        1. valentine

          It would be bad enough if he had lied about the numbers, but involving real people and stealing from poor people makes this a harmful workplace, especially when he was promoted the first time he did this.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder

            specially when he was promoted the first time he did this.

            On the one hand, the organization got exactly what they deserved for promoting this guy, but the poor bystanders whose names are now fraudulently on this list have to suffer as a result. And…all for a Monday off?

          2. Lance

            I’m curious what you mean by ‘stealing from poor people’; do you mean the membership fees? If that’s the case, OP mentioned the fund because they aren’t taking money from the people who got their names listed on the boss’ whim; they’re taking it from a separate internal fund.

            1. Penny Parker

              The money is coming from “a separate internal fund” which is intended to cover the costs of poor people who want to volunteer and cannot afford to do so. In other words, “Stealing from poor people.”

              1. fhqwhgads

                It depends on the details. This might be an actual “fund” ie money was donated or granted to literally pay the cost for people who can’t afford it, in which case this is a very very big deal and very very bad. But it could also be purely internal coding, where there is no actual money involved, and the way they normally do this is to essentially comp the people who can’t afford to pay but it is coded in a certain way so they can track how often they do this/what the value of it would have been. It’s still wrong and bad, but it’s different than if this is actual cash money as opposed to just a budget lineitem where it’s essentially an expense they eat.

            2. Not Rebee

              If the money is coming from a sort of pro-bono fund for fraudulent purposes that means the funds are depleted which means fewer actual people who qualify for the benefit will be able to actually benefit from it. While at the end of the day it may not matter to the company, since the money basically moves from Account A to Account B and they don’t lose any money, they do lose out on the ability to offer those funds to legitimate people who exist and have a need of the resource. And, like someone else mentioned, if the funds, once moved, are used for any other kind of purpose to benefit the “new members” then this is money being spent that benefits no one, and the company does actually lose revenue.

        2. Karen from Finance

          I assumed it was from underutilized money in the fund. As in, they have say $10K available for people who can’t afford it, but only $3K are being used by people in this situation, so he used the other $7K to fake subscriptions. In that case he’d only be stealing from the company. But it’s weird that the company knows this and doesn’t care.

          1. Colette

            It’s not really stealing from the company – the company still has the money. But it is using money in a way it wasn’t intended to be used, and it’s still wrong.

            1. Liane

              “the company still has the money”
              We can’t tell if it does or not from the information given. The money could indeed still be in the account, but, as someone else suggested, the boss could have used it for something else.

              1. Colette

                The boss used the money to sign up fake volunteers – presumably the money from the volunteer sign up goes to the company.

                (As a side note, perhaps their problem signing people up is that they are charging them for the privilege of volunteering.)

                1. Jules the 3rd

                  That wouldn’t surprise me in certain kinds of non-profits. Think Toastmasters.

                2. smoke tree

                  I volunteer for a non-profit that asks for $30 to cover your uniform and badge costs. But they also have a fund for volunteers who can’t afford it. Although I’m a little annoyed by this practice in principle, it’s otherwise a great place to volunteer and isn’t sketchy.

          2. kittymommy

            This is how I’m reading it as well. While the company still has the money technically, it is being diverted into a different account (most likely) and I would think, depending upon how the non-profit is structured, this could run into some financial irregularities.

          3. LQ

            But when it is a nonprofit and for funding like this it could very well be that that grant money would go BACK to the funder if it was underutilized. In which case you’re stealing from the funder which is a really really bad idea.

            (Fun fact, something like this is very similar to what happened when my former boss destroyed my organization. OP look for a new job, ASAP.)

    2. WoodswomanWrites

      Yes, this is fraud that absolutely needs to be flagged to your nonprofit’s leadership. OP#2, your boss’s boss needs to have the whistle blown to your nonprofit’s executive director. If there’s no action–or your boss’s boss IS the executive director–then this should be elevated to your nonprofit’s board of directors. What you’re describing is putting your nonprofit’s very existence at risk. If you are uncomfortable alerting higher-ups by yourself because it could make you a target, perhaps you can get a few colleagues to speak up as a group.

      1. Sue

        I agree with this. When I said probably not embezzlement, I wasn’t saying it isn’t fraudulent or a misappropriation of the funds. It’s just that embezzlement implies that someone is personally profiting from the funds and it doesn’t sound like what is described here.

        1. Lance

          Yeah, I’m not reading this as embezzlement, as such; there isn’t anyone taking the money, it’s functionally staying within the org. Gross misappropriation of funds, however… I don’t think that’s even arguable, nor that this could/should be a firing-level offense especially after the first (apparently ignored) warning.

          1. Jules the 3rd

            As Gaia said, the source of the funds may be an issue too. If it’s a grant with limits on how the money can be spent, then it’s a Very Big Deal.

      2. Michaela Westen

        Maybe some of the irate people who were signed up could be directed to complain to higher ups/the board?
        I would do it instantly. I so hate being harassed by fundraisers!

        1. RVA Cat

          This is a great way to blow the whistle without the LW speaking up directly. They’re just trying to help people and there must be some mistake in the data…?

          (The whole thing reminds me of the Wells Fargo fake account scandal.)

          1. MarfisaTheLibrarian

            I wonder if it would be smarter for the LW to be the whistleblower themselves? Otherwise might there be a risk that the entire department could be implicated?

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Co-signed. Even if there isn’t a money concern, this is civil fraud (and possibly criminal fraud). As he’s done this before, the nonprofit and Directors are going to be personally liable (especially if they do anything short of firing if his new fraud wave is reported).

        This is serious—like shut down the organization serious. After ACORN, there’s no way that funders, the IRS, or the state AG’s office won’t come down hard on an organization that fails to address someone who engages in repeat fraud.

      4. Blunt Bunny

        Also aren’t they violating data protection laws I was thinking of GDPR laws in Europe. This would be a misuse of their contact details and also shows that they kept their personal details safe and secure.

    3. Certified Fraud Examiner here

      We typically categorize occupational fraud in three categories – Financial Statement, Corruption, and/or Asset Misappropriation. Embezzlement is usually (with emphasis) seen as someone taking for themselves and the assets being taken from the organization.

      Here it appears the money is staying in the organization, with the misrepresentation resulting in more of a uniform gain to all. SInce no assets were stolen (instead, reallocated) the law might not get involved.

      It is an ugly misrepresentation which is known by others – BAD. If there is a fraud hotline for your org, call it. If there are external or govt agency audits – write a anonymous tip (this might not help).

      And start job searching. This issue is likely one of many which isn’t being dealt with, which is being accepted. Yikes.

    4. Canadian Public Servant

      I read this as the organization will waive the $50 membership fee for people who don’t have the ability to pay, rather than pay for it from an internal budget line. Which is still mega sketchy – I used to be part of an organization with a sliding scale membership fee, and in recruiting we were very strongly encouraged to ask for some fee, unless it was a real hardship for the person. Fraud, but not embezzlement: not really better.

      1. Massmatt

        I read it the same way, membership fee can be waived, so boss is going through the phone book signing up random people as “volunteers “. This is beyond sleazy, people who didn’t volunteer are getting phone spam, and the boss personally benefits by “hitting his numbers “. The org’s reputation is getting trashed as the people find out they are being “volunteered” by phone. If I found out this was done to me I would be PISSED, no matter how worthy the organization.

        Blow the whistle, and if no action is taken get ready to move on.

        1. Decima Dewey

          Why hasn’t somebody in the organization noticed that they have X number of volunteers on the books, but apparently a lot of them never actually show up to volunteer?

        2. Chinookwind

          Unless they are like the organization I am part of where they where we have an “angel fund” to cover those who can’t afford the fee (of only $25 annually and covers operating expenses at those levels). Thing is, that money is donated by members specifically to quietly help members on a tight budget and it is not an unlimited pot (we will pass the hat when it hits near zero but it never has). And it does leave our bank account for our national and provincial offices as we have to pay so much per head on our registered list (but can be reduced when certain communities can’t pay).

          On top of that, we ask members to tell us how much they want to actively volunteer vs. just wanting to be recognized as part of the organization and giving us moral support. It would look suspicious if all the new members were silent and I can guarantee that there would be at least one phone call every few months to check in on them to see if things have changed.

          As a result, I would also be pissed to find out if someone had done this just to pad our numbers. Yeah, it may not have cost us anything in the short term and even win us awards and prestige, but there are repercussions that include blackening the name of our organization that just are not worth it.

          1. I was walking, now I'm running

            Thank you to everyone who has commented! I have been looking for a new job since the first month of my employment since I knew something was off (just general sketch, too long to go into) and I could tell they were a hot mess. I have been searching for a way to whistleblow but I’ve searched the employee manual and found nothing. I’m hesitant to go to the board of directors since my boss is personal friends with two of them. I also can’t use a dupe email since they would know it is me since I was both the only one to inquire about the numbers and act shocked about them (everyone else had been employed for at least a year and are used to this). The person who noticed the inconsistency has moved to another state and his data reports showing the inconsistency “vanished” just this morning. People in the company who know about the numbers are complacent since they benefit from the spoils by doing none of the work (remember how I mentioned that my team helped other teams all the time as mandated but no one helped us meet goal when commanded by the higher ups?)

            I would love to say that I could toss my beret in the air and leave but I’m currently kinda stuck. I haven’t been getting much interest from possible employers even through networking with my “lack of experience” cited for why I was passed over for an interview. I live alone, have bills to pay, and I’m working 2 part time jobs on top of this full time to make ends meet. (Yes, the full-time job’s pay is that low. It requires a 4 year degree to apply!) I know I need to leave but I can’t until I find something that can pay equal or more. I’m terrified for my professional reputation but I also can’t afford eviction.

            What external agencies could I contact and what should I do until I get another job besides whistleblow?

            1. AlyInSebby

              Gah!

              Letter writer this blows on every and all levels.
              This kind of malfeasance is a cancer for your type of agency, workers at many levels and just sucks!
              I can only offer internet support and appreciation, and good thoughts that things will hopefully turn for the better for you soon.

            2. Certified Fraud Examiner here

              It depends on the organization. If they are have federal or state dollars coming which impact those programs – the agency sending those funds *might* care. Audited by an external accountant, would (hopefully) care.

              However, from what you’ve said so far….this is an internal matter and the board is the most appropriate to notify. Ugh. This sucks. And it’s worse when people are friends. BUT if you are serious to blow the whistle – this is where to do it.

              I’ve been to meetings where the remaining board members had no idea the depth of number manipulation occurring. It was shocking and unsettlingly, but ultimately they took steps forward. Usually the unethical actor was dismissed. Occasionally, there was a “reorganization”.

              Being a whistleblower is hard and comes with risk.

              Good luck LW. Will be thinking of you.

            3. TardyTardis

              I hope you find something soon, but even another part-time job and renting your floor or couch to a friend to help make expenses would be better than what you’re working for now.

    5. StaceyIzMe

      I agree. Money is being spent from a fund allocated to benefit people who’d ACTUALLY like to join the organization and no services are being exchanged, so it is fraud pure and simply. But- they “reprimanded” and then promoted the fraudster, so what else would one expect? In LW’s shoes, I’d be making use of those Mondays off to interview, network and bring any skills deficits up to the ideal in pursuit of greener (and saner) pastures, professionally speaking.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger

      Whether it’s embezzlement, fraud, or neither, I’d consider this misuse of funds, and I’d never give a penny or a minute of my time to an organization that not only wastes its funds, but forcibly enrolls random people in its program. I hope the OP names and shames, because even if it’s not criminal, that’s very serious misconduct IMO.

    7. LifesizeLawyer

      Personally identifiable information (PII), such as phone and email data, is highly regulated. Even when it’s easily accessible online, like through WhitePages, the use of this data is regulated by federal law. OP’s boss could potentially be breaking federal or state law by misusing this data. OP, you need to run from this job. This is exactly the type of fraudulent crap that turns up in audits, which could then bring the entire organization (and your professional reputation) down in flames.

    1. Ron McDon

      This letter made my shoulders go up around my ears! Ugh.

      So the top three execs (whose idea this probably was?) don’t have to take part and embarrass themselves, but instead get to sit in judgement of everyone else? I’ll never understand why people think that this kind of nonsense is a good idea.

      OP, I wonder how you feel about Alison’s advice? Do you feel your colleagues will be accepting if you say no, or are they very competitive and likely to push back?

      1. Life is Good

        This place sure sounds like my old dysfunctional company! The top three executives used to force this kind of crap on us all the time, except, we middle managers had to come up with the creative activities while also working our asses off 60 hours a week! I am very sure the big wigs would then list these activities as part of their excellent culture in those best places to work applications. Ugh! No one really liked doing them. It was a colossal waste of time and there were a few who got really ugly competing. Many of us just faked our way through it. I hate your big bosses, too, OP. Why can’t we just go to work to work and have bonuses, extra time off, etc. as team builders? Happy, well-compensated employees make a great team!

        1. Life is Good

          PS Pushing back on the activities at my old job would have been a good way to be shunned. I’m also wondering how the OP feels about Alison’s advice to do that.

          1. Not So NewReader

            I worked one place where my decision became “It’s okay to be shunned. I will live.” The flaw with shunning is that they actually need our work. They can ignore me, but for how long.

            There is a tipping point, where shunning is preferable over the activity that is demanded.

            I can almost promise you, OP, that if you refuse to participate then at least a few others will do the same. It’s a matter of that first person saying no.

            1. pleaset

              This.

              “But if you must be physically present … does it really matter if you team loses points because you don’t participate?”

              Don’t do it.

              The OP should just not do it if she can afford it.

              When I was younger I simply walked out of a bizare exercise at the estate of the founder of my orgaization. That person and my boss were there doing it. It was absurd for me, so when it became clear what was involved I simply said “Sorry, I’m not doing this” and left the room and did some reading instead.

              Unless your job is precarious and it’s important you hold onto it, don’t put up with stuff like this if you strongly don’t want to.

                1. pleaset

                  Can say much as don’t want to reveal myself. But it was some team building thing where we supposed to act very unselfconscious and free. Before working out I said to the consultant leading it that I actually think being self-conscious is a good thing. That person said, “just try it as we get started.” Some people started acting all loose, and I left.

      2. OP 1

        Hey Ron, so I came to discover that my employer has a “culture committee” who came up with the ideas for this week. The executives loves the idea of forcing people from different departments to show “spirit” by performing in front of the organization. I do like the idea of feigning illness or injury, but I think I’d better put my foot down by just saying “this isn’t for me” as Alison suggested. My fellow fundraisers are type B, people pleasers and are expecting me to participate with my assigned team like they are. If I’m going to work here I can’t be expected to stress over such stupid things. There are other organizations I can fundraiser for if my office becomes toxic over this. I guess my main concern for my “cabin” mates is that I don’t know what our managers are going to do with the “spirit” points data.

        1. Busy

          I would actually find out what they are going to do with this data before making a decision.

          Typically people who are this weird are weird on all fronts.

          It doesn’t take much to realize how ridiculous most people would find any one of these activities, and the fact that this is lost on upper management says to me that you need to find out what the points will be used for. Like I personally wouldn’t bat an eye at being shunned by these people or being pushed out over refusing to participate. I would NOT personally feel good if I chose to opt out and then all of my “cabin mates” lost out on some arbitrary bonus. And I think that is what you are trying to say here? That you recognize the banana crackers of it all and are more than willing to accept the personal consequences of not participating – you just don’t want the others to be penalized by your choices, no matter how banana-crackers it would be to assign any meaning to those damn spirit points.

          1. OP 1

            Busy, that’s my concern. I have no problem suffering the consequences of my actions but I’m not comfortable with the fact that my actions could affect others.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It still wouldn’t be your responsibility. It would be your employer’s fault for setting this up, not yours for saying “I’m not going to do this.” I mean, I get the dynamics here, but you are not obligated to do this.

              1. Busy

                Well, I don’t think anyone is debating that part. I think this is just more about what she personally would be able to *live* with. Not so much what is the *right* thing to do. Cuz eff ALL that nonsense.

                Me? I;d sit there with my arms cross and shrug every time anyone brought it up to me. Cuz no one should be winning anything important from activities like this in a work setting. It’s dumb. But at the same time, if ,because I did not participate, no one got their yearly raise, then I maybe would have just done it as one of those things in life you do just so you don’t feel so bad later. Like the emotional payout of doing it and everyone getting X trumps my feelings of morals and ethics. One of those tradeouts you find yourself making throughout life once in the real life circumstance. And it is OK if OP does participate because of this, too.

              2. smoke tree

                Although, let’s take a moment to savour the irony of the fact that OP 1 is actually being very considerate towards their team (presumably part of what this spirit week is supposed to accomplish?) and is concerned about getting punished for it.

        2. I am looking for my creator

          If you know your employer well enough, you shouldn’t have to wonder.

          1. Liane

            She might be new to the company, after having been interviewed and hired by saner people than the ones on the culture committee she mentioned in a comment.

            And yes, OP1, I would definitely find out what’s going to be done with those points. And even if the answer is “OF course, they won’t be part of your annual review. It’s just for fun-fun-fun,” I’d still be worried. Especial

          2. boo bot

            I actually think an employer that does this kind of thing is showing that it’s not very thoughtful about what it expects of employees, which in itself would make me wonder.

        3. pleaset

          “but I think I’d better put my foot down by just saying “this isn’t for me” as Alison suggested.”

          Great. I wish more people would do this.

          “If I’m going to work here I can’t be expected to stress over such stupid things.”

          Yes!

        4. Artemesia

          The thing about being an effective fund raiser is that this is one of the hardest jobs there is to fill and an actually good development officer can always find a good job. So if you are good at this, which it sounds like you are, you are exactly the person who can afford to push back on this crap.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House

            Also, can’t you just schedule a ton of offsite meetings with donors that week?

            “Oh I’m sorry, I have a meeting at the Gates Foundation at 3, I won’t be able to make it to the lip-sync competition. Also, it’s business attire so I can’t do a costume, either.”

          2. OP 1

            It’s not my fate that I’m concerned with. Unfortunately my participation and level of “spirit” is tied to team performance. On the other hand if I let that influence me into singing and dancing for tptb then they win…

            1. Mr. Shark

              This whole thing is horrible, but perhaps you can pick a song where the absolute minimum you’d have to do is lip-sync one line (like, say, “I want my MTV” on “Money for Nothing”).

              I would hate this, but I probably would be convinced to do the bare minimum to support my team.

              1. fogharty

                The late, great Andy Kaufman and the Mighty Mouse theme song
                (vimeo.com/groups/326115/videos/141371878)

                1. Elitist Semicolon

                  I’m the type of petty that would do the explicit version of a certain Cee-Lo song and make the organizers regret they ever had the idea.

              2. Seeking Second Childhood

                “Take this job and shove it” by Johnny Paycheck …IF you find a job before the lipsynching at least.

            2. Not So NewReader

              I have had my own version of this stuff.
              I concluded:
              1) Some, if not all, of my teams were NO where near as worried about me as I was about them.

              2)The rating system is designed for precisely this- to make you worried about how your actions impact others. Nothing says, “I don’t know how to manage people” like threatening people that they will hurt their team mates by not participating.

              3) Feeding in to manipulation like this ONLY begets MORE manipulation. You think, “Okay, I will do this one thing and then it is over.” noooo. It’s just STARTED.

              4) Your coworkers are not helpless here. They can chose to sit on the sidelines with you. Or not.

              5) This is what bosses do when they do not know how to manage. Company spirit is built daily by offering a good product or service, taking care of one’s employees and one’s customers/clients. Company spirit cannot be built in one week with nonsensical activities. Company spirit can not be synthesized through irrelevant “bonding” activities that take people away from their jobs. Why not just send them home early? That would mean more to most people.

              I used to like to picture myself on a job interview saying, “Yeah, so I would not do [ridiculous activity that was unrelated to my work] and we all got dinged on our evaluations for my refusal to participate in [ridiculous activity]. When I saw that I decided it was time to look for a different type of work environment.”
              Then I picture myself helping the interviewer up from the floor because they fell out of their chair laughing so hard.

        5. Roy G. Biv

          OP1 – is there any way you can convince your team to do a song that would allow you to be on stage as the person who hands towels and water to the star? I’m thinking the way Elvis and James Brown always had someone on stage whose entire job was assist the star in the moments of showmanship. Maybe handing out scarves for the lip syncers to throw into the audience of adoring fans? Take the concept of enforced frivolity and raise it to the ridiculous.

        6. Myrin

          First off, OP, you sound like you’ve got a very good head on your shoulders – you sound admirably steadfast and calm, which is a refreshing attitude!
          Second, you say you don’t know what your managers are going to do with the points data, but do you have any inkling regarding that whatsoever? Like, if you think about it through the lens of your experience within this company and with the managers in particular, what do you feel is likely to happen? Can you imagine that they’re going to sulk and grouch but won’t be doing anything about it in the end? Or are they actually more the vindictive sort who’ll then affect performance reviews and thelike because of this? Any idea at all?

          1. OP 1

            Hey Myrin. Thanks for the feedback. You do bring up some interesting points. I’ve only worked here for about two years and the “culture” has shifted since I came on board so it’s hard to determine what the top managers are thinking. With the level of detail that was put into spirit week I would not be surprised if this

            1. OP 1

              data was saved for some purpose. We are having “values” shoved down our throats which I am a little wary of because they can be subjective – ie “OP 1 showed that they are not committed to building connected teams as they did not show spirit during camp week and sat out of the lip sync battle”.

              1. HappySnoopy

                In that case, or in any case actually, keep your own team buliding records and log for your accomplishments.

                That way you can couter their didnt lip sync to “coordinated succesful interdepartmental campaign amongst 6 people in 3 depts that improved efficiency by 15%” or…whatever is appropriate and you know, actually work related.

                1. MediQueen

                  This is a great suggestion! I have a separate folder where I keep all email kudos, good jobs, thanks, etc.

        7. Zennish

          The mission of the “culture committee” is to create the most toxic culture possible? Accomplished.

          1. RVA Cat

            I’m uncomfortably reminded of the mandatory celebrations that people living under dictatorships have to show their devotion to their leader….

        8. Ron McDon

          Ick, a culture committee?! It sounds awful! I am glad to hear that you have other work options if things don’t work out here.

          In my previous job I pushed back and refused to join in with a ‘mandatory fun’ event and it really impacted how my colleagues viewed me. They were all apparently fine with taking part in the event, and were at a loss to understand why I was objecting.

          I hope when you push back your colleagues are understanding and accommodating, but it’s worth being prepared that they may not be – it completely took me by surprise that everyone in my job took it very personally when I declined to participate and blanked me for months afterwards.

          Of course, nowadays I am so old and grumpy that I wouldn’t care, but I was young and a people pleaser then, so it was very unpleasant until I left.

          Good luck!

    2. A woman in tech

      It’s amazing how much time and effort employers will put into non-work-related activities that people hate. OP, I bet you anything that if you spoke up gently about not wishing to participate, at least some others would be relieved to hear they’re not the only ones who feel that way. They might join you in sitting out the enforced Fun.

      1. valentine

        It’s amazing how much time and effort employers will put into non-work-related activities that people hate.
        That may be the draw. It’s the modern-day shooting at someone’s feel while shouting, “Dance! Dance, I said!” Given the demerit system, TPTB may label anyone who refuses “not a team player” come review time.

        OP1, if it’s more the syncing, you could hide your mouth while dancing enthusiastically, but just typing that while imagining the costumes grosses me out.

        1. Dragoning

          My director at work has told us straight out that our participation in things like team potlucks, etc, factor into performance reviews.

          Yayyyyyy.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            Hod I hate that kind of shit!

            Dude…people go to work to make money, not friends!!!! If they do make friends, that’s a bonus but it cant be forced.

            Plus this kind if stuff really foes the opposite. Unless you count the entire staff hating management collectively a win.

            1. The Original K.

              People at work spend 8+ hours a day together. If they want to be friends, odds are good that it will happen organically. And if it doesn’t, who cares as long as the work is getting done and the environment is reasonably pleasant? UGH, I hate forced “team spirit” stuff like this!

          2. drinking Mello Yello

            Ugh, that’s awful. :/

            My workplace is the exact opposite and is very explicit about participation being optional for stuff like potlucks. (Which I’m very thankful for!)

          3. MatKnifeNinja

            This happened at two places I worked at.

            People who didn’t do the dancing bear BS were hammered on performance reviews.

            Also, all those baby showers, girl scout cookies and kids’ travel sport team tickets-who went/purchased what- factored into reviews too.

            I did the non participating thing ONCE. Unless you have a whole team of like minded people, who have no fawks to give, the two or 3 others will loudly bitch to the higher ups what a dead weight you are. My transfer to get the hell off of midnights was affect by me not doing picnic games.

            OP figure out how much blow back you’ll get, or see if you can get on a team where no one cares too. Only you know how much heat you can stand, if the higher ups get uber petty.

            1. Michaela Westen

              All this stuff affecting performance reviews should be illegal.
              And this is an outstandingly good example of why we need such laws!

              1. Colette

                In general, how you get along with your colleagues is a part of your job, and fair game for performance reviews. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are – if no one wants to work with you, you are not doing a good job.

                This is a bad activity, but that doesn’t mean there should be laws to prevent it.

                1. MatKnifeNinja

                  The three coworkers complained I ruined the event for them by my less than enthusiastic participation. I was more the kid hiding in the corner during dodge ball, than actively grousing the whole time.

                  These were three coworkers who I would not have pegged as enjoying dancing bear type activities.

                  And being brilliant doesn’t save you job if the employer values more than getting in, get the work done and getting out.

                  Sounds like OP’s higher up are spending a boat load of time on this stuff. Best you can hope for is be on team everyone hates dodge ball, and do enough not to be noticed

                2. Michaela Westen

                  I don’t agree that being a dancing bear should be addressed in a performance review – unless the job is to be a dancing bear in a show or sports game.
                  I don’t agree that being expected to pay for the celebrations of colleague’s personal milestones should be a requirement for a job. It can be unaffordable for many, as we’ve seen here many times.

                3. General Ginger

                  There’s a huge difference between getting along with one’s colleagues and being a dancing bear, though.

                4. valentine

                  if no one wants to work with you, you are not doing a good job.
                  I don’t want to work with people who humiliate my colleagues and force us to spend money and literally sing and dance for them.

                5. Windchime

                  I’m pretty smart and people do like to work with me. That’s because I’m kind and friendly, I work hard, I’m punctual, and I help others with their work if necessary. It’s not because I am a good lip-synch-er or because I know how to put on a good skit. All this juvenile party business is ridiculous. I playing games and doing skits feels like time-wasting to me. It reminds me of when my company was bought out by Davita. The amount of stupid time-wasting in the name of team-building was truly amazing.
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJdsDojUfVI

          4. Phoenix Wright

            (Don’t do this!)

            That would tempt me to lower my productivity to the lowest possible level that won’t get me fired. After all, if I’m going to be penalized for things unrelated to my actual job no matter how hard I work, why put any effort towards the latter?

          5. Jules the 3rd

            oh HECK no.

            I just had a new manager come to tell me there were Snacks! and People! congregating three rows away in the cube farm (ie, I knew it, hard to miss it). And in response to my, ‘Thanks! but super busy this second” he stood at my desk and told me it was important to congregate and be social. Through 2 MORE ‘I’m super busy *this second*’ statements, while he could see me typing in response to the 3 separate instant message conversations on my screen.

            I am mildly worried that he’ll be on my 360 review, but the social stuff really needs to be secondary.

            1. Former Employee

              I guess you could go and be social and then explain later why your work is behind or you couldn’t get to something on a more timely basis. Yeah, right.

              It’s such a crock because if it puts you behind, they would probably expect you to work during your lunch break – “unofficially”, of course.

          6. Zennish

            “Smith, you’re doing a great job, but your tuna casserole was a little bland, so I’m afraid that’s going to count against you this year…” Nothing insane about that at all.

            1. Elitist Semicolon

              “Jones, you tripled our revenue but politely declined to buy Janet’s ex-sister-in-law’s step-daughter’s Girl Scout Cookies that one time, so you’re on notice.”

          7. Michaela Westen

            As a person with a lot of food allergies, would I be penalized if I went but didn’t eat anything but the food I bring for myself? Hmm.
            Also since I have to make all my food from scratch, I already spend more than enough time cooking and the last thing I want is to cook for the office potluck. Cracker sandwiches, anyone?
            I think I’d be looking for another job.

          8. Loose Seal

            I had a job where potluck participation counted toward our reviews but, for some mysterious reason, only for the women. The men had to golf with clients or in charity tournaments for their participation points.

            I kept cans of corn in my desk along with a serving dish, which I cleaned after each potluck. That way, I didn’t have to think about it at all. Walk in on potluck day, dump some corn in a dish, microwave, and done!

            1. OP 1

              I like your style. I’ve always gone out to eat lunch on potluck days but this is a great way to “participate”.

        2. Jen S. 2.0

          Heh, not only are they shooting at feet while shouting, “Dance!” but afterward they’re all, “wasn’t that fun?”

          And then, in 6 months when you want to discuss a raise, they’ll say there aren’t funds available, but they’ll point out that they worked so hard on culture and spirit and employee appreciation, which is worth more than plain old money.

          LW should run screaming into the night.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            I see it as a power play.

            Execs: “let’s see just how much they will humiliate themselves in order to keep their jobs!”

            1. Gerta

              I am not a fan of these activities either, and would feel the same way as OP in this situation, but it doesn’t have to be anything that sinister. I have worked in an office where group performances were a standard part of office parties and away days, and in that particular context, many of the staff engaged in these activities with great enthusiasm. Critically, no-one was forced if they weren’t into it – but enough people were keen, and it genuinely did result in some really fun events and contribute to the atmosphere of the office as a whole.
              That was in a country where these types of activities were seen as not just normal but an expected perk for most workplaces. If my previous workplace in the UK tried something similar, it would have been a total washout. (And if they had tried to force it, I am certain people would not have hesitated to make their feelings known, including me.)

              1. Psyche

                I think that it is the forced participation that makes it a power play. If you can sit out with no one making an issue of it, then it can be a fun event.

                1. Massmatt

                  This and the fact that the execs are not participating in the “fun” themselves, simply sitting in judgment of those that are.

                2. Jen S. 2.0

                  Agree. It’s not holding a spirit event at all that’s the problem. This kind of thing IS fun for lots of people! It’s dragging reluctant people up on a stage with threats that their job performance rating is on the line that is the problem, and that piece feels like a power play.

                  If they let the willing people participate and left the reluctant people alone, and just did it for fun and not job performance, this would be okay.

            2. Miss Astoria Platenclear

              Exactly. If they truly just wanted to offer fun activities, they could have voluntary Eighties Trivia, or March Madness pools, etc. It’s a power play.
              Back in the day, I watched a lot of “Puttin’ on the Hits,” and would enjoy the lip-synch battle *outside of work, with like-minded people.*
              Frankie Say – Don’t make employees spend time and money on mandatory fun.

              1. Jadelyn

                My org does fun activities right – our branch has a “fun committee” that plans little activities on a roughly monthly basis. Food or treats are provided, and there’s silly little contests that are spread out over a few hours during the day so that people can participate even if they’re in a meeting during part of it or whatever. I rarely participate, and I have an…I’d call it an affectionate reputation as the office curmudgeon about it. Nobody is actually mad at me or being genuinely snarky about my low level of participation, and I’m welcomed with open arms when I do actually participate, but there’s a little bit of good-natured teasing about me hiding in my corner.

                We’ve had:
                – an easter egg hunt
                – a jelly belly tasting contest (identify as many flavors as you can)
                – a “how well do you know your coworkers?” game where we all pre-completed a set of questions which were then posted without names, and we all had to guess whose answers were whose

                And the key is, they’re all OPTIONAL. Nobody complains because if you don’t want to do it, you just…don’t.

                Why more employers can’t figure out that key concept, I will never know.

            3. smoke tree

              Maybe the team building is supposed to come from employees banding together in solidarity over the horrible things management puts them through.

          2. Mel

            Yes. No money for raises, but lots of money to torture employees.

            Although, some people so genuinely believe that this stuff really is fun. A former coworker wanted to have a not-this-horrible event for work. She was told there was no money for it, so she paid for the ridiculous thing out of her own pocket. It was insane, but she truly thought it was great.

            1. Feline

              Sadly, I’ve observed that the coworkers who are enthusiastic about planning events are the ones more likely to think that these horrifying exhibitions are fun. The planning group we had for many years before a reorg sent us on our way from them liked to enforce lots of games and activities, as if we were children at a birthday party.

              This ultimately led to the infamous during-office-hours Christmas party that nearly everyone blew off. I had a deadline and my manager knew I was hard at work on it at the office, but other managers were instructed to call their direct reports and demand to know where they were and plead with them to get to the under-attended party. There were a lot of hurt feelings and no Christmas party the next year, much to my relief.

              1. Richard Hershberger

                These are the same people who were on the pep squad in high school, and couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t think pep rallies and school spirit were the mostest importantest things ever!

          3. TardyTardis

            And then send Scott Adams a note about the place, so he can work it into a Dilbert cartoon.

        3. Bagpuss

          Yup. Whever I read anything like this I am reminded of a character in one of Chritopher Brookmyer’s novels… he’s a villain, starting out as a cntract killer, but one of his early hits is for his own plesaure, and it’s the person who forced him to participate in something like this… I always felt a certain amount of sympathy for that character, at that point in the book, and it made me wonder what terrible forced jollity experience the author was subjected to, which led him to pick that particualr victim…

          1. Media Monkey

            i LOVE brookmyre. wish he’d get back to his older style books (one fine day in the middle of the night/ sacred art of stealing) buit even his less good new ones are better than most!

            1. Bagpuss

              me too.( I think the bit I am thinking of is in ‘A big boy did it and ran away’ but I am not 100% sure as it’s a while since I read it)

              1. SarahKay

                For anyone in the UK, “A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away ” is currently on sale with Amazon for 99p. (I was tempted by Bagpuss’s description, went to look it up on Amazon, and there it was, on sale.)

          2. Busy

            Haha this actually made me laugh.

            And to all employers out there, I would just like you to consider one point: what you think you are getting out of this and what you are actually getting are two different things.

            What you are actually giving here is an impression of all of the employees you forced to participate. I am not a fanciful, high energy, fun-loving gal. My type of work does not require me to be a fanciful, high energy, fun-loving gal. I do not live in a culture where it behooves me to be seen as a fanciful, high energy, fun-loving gal. I do not WANT to be seen this way. Don’t make me do things that make me seem like I am this way. I do not relate to people this way. I find having to behave like this, at the very least, exhausting – and at its worse makes me look like a woman other people will not take seriously. It does not help me. DO NOT FORCE THIS CRAP ON PEOPLE.

            1. OP 1

              As a fellow non fanciful, I really appreciate this point. It makes no sense to me that managers force people into uncomfortable situations which have no affect on the work. It’s like forcing a high energy person to communicate stoically.

            2. OP 1

              I wish I could share the full schedule of activities for the week. The lip sync battle is but one team building activity of several.

              1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

                If they really insisted, I might go up on stage and just mount “F*** Y**” over and over again.

                I’m an introvert. Yes, I can have a big mouth in meetings, but only when I have something to say. I am not a cheerleader, an athlete, or a “fun time girl”. Expecting me to act like it would not turn out well. (I cuss a lot when I’m uncomfortable…)

          3. Booksalot

            I was just going to say that this reminds me of the Frost sisters.

            Do you want a supervillain? Because this is how you get a supervillain.

            1. Jadelyn

              Supervillain name: The Curmudgeon
              Origin story: Snapped one day after the seventh coworker in half an hour stopped by their desk to badger them about participating in the karaoke contest
              Superpower: The Curmudgeon’s glower can stop anything and anyone in their tracks

          1. Jayne

            The Powers That Be..all the faceless people that make the decisions unencumbered by the thought process…

      2. Asenath

        I always figured that someone must like these activities, and I wouldn’t mind if they were set up so that they were optional, but often they aren’t because the people who like them want everyone to “share the fun”!! It’s like school all over again – for a fortunately very brief period when I was in high school, the staff tried to get us to have school spirit.

      3. Archaeopteryx

        Amazing the lengths some companies will go to to boost morale, but which never seem to involve raises, bonuses, or pensions.

        1. Kat in VA

          I can confidently say that the dollar amount of team dinners, team building events, training events, office parties, and other things would cover a 5% yearly raise for me…for the next five years. Minimum. While it’s fun to throw around that kinda cash using the company p-card, sometimes I internally wince when I casually (and with permission) spend $500 a day on breakfast and lunch for a two-day sales training event.

    3. Blue Horizon

      Do you get to pick the song? If so you could go with something like ‘Hey Julie’ by Fountains of Wayne, or ‘Code Monkey’ by Jonathan Coulton.

        1. Augusta Sugarbean

          Ha. I just came across the clip of the comedian who went on American Idol and did karaoke. His song was “Tequila”. It was hilarious!

          1. Michaela Westen

            There you go! OP, your group should do Tequila and bop to it (Bop is a 50’s-style freestyle dance – management won’t know the difference so just move your feet and you’re all good.)
            And if you feel like it dress in cuffed indigo blue jeans, converse shoes, and white t-shirts.

          2. sofar

            At my old company, we had a compulsory karaoke contest. We had to compete as teams. The company actually rented out a karaoke room for a day for this. One team performed “Tequila.” During the musical interludes that comprise nearly the entire song, they stood up there and drank their beers.

            The rest of the teams watched enviously, wishing they had thought of this.

            1. Mr. Shark

              There you go! I’d be okay with that. No dancing, just yelling “Tequila” once in awhile.

            2. Kat in VA

              /kinda bummer anecdote ahead

              Compulsory karaoke would really suck for me, on a number of levels.

              Before I was inexplicably stricken with an odd neurological disorder (spasmodic dysphonia), I could sing at Adele-levels of vocal quality. Not bragging, just truth. I could always sing very, ver well and had a fairly decent range.

              Then the SD hit, and I could still sing fairly well, but at lesser range than before. I couldn’t talk without it sounding like I was either about to burst into tears, someone was choking me, or honking like a goose…and on bad days, all three.

              Then I had a spinal fusion that went through the front of my neck and the surgeon inadvertently severed the recurrent laryngeal nerve on the left side of my neck (it happens). Now I have the vocal range of a tone-deaf toddler who goes la-la-la with the songs on the TV…which is to say, no range and no tone. I can hum, poorly, and that’s it.

              Knowing how well I *could* sing and how incredibly awful my singing voice is now, you bet your ass I would refuse to sing at all, ever, period, for any reason…up to and including being FIRED for it.

              Singing was/is intensely personal for me, and when I lost the ability to speak clearly, at least I could still sing. When I lost THAT ability, it was devastating. For context, I’ve been singing – in harmony – since I was four years old (taught by my mother) and always, always sang…a capella, with the radio, in harmony with someone else… I sang a LOT.

              Snowball’s chance in hell I would subject myself to that in front of my coworkers and/or bosses.

      1. valentine

        ‘Hey Julie’ by Fountains of Wayne, or ‘Code Monkey’ by Jonathan Coulton
        I don’t want to know where either of those is okay.

        1. Blue Horizon

          It was not a serious suggestion. There are workplaces where it would be OK, but none of them would pull a stunt like this.

        1. Aitch Arr

          Or “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”.

          I was looking for a job and then I found a job
          And heaven knows I’m miserable now

        2. Former Employee

          I suppose they could do “Trampin'”, a spiritual, which was sung by Patti Smith.

          They might not “get” the irony.

          The refrain is:

          I’m trampin’, trampin’ Try’n-a make heaven my home
          I’m trampin trampin Try’n-a make heaven my home…

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

        If we’re giving song suggestions, I suggest John Cage’s 4’33’. Your group should stand on the stage and stare blankly at the judges the whole time as the “synchronized performance” aspect.

          1. Michaela Westen

            Or, “9 to 5”!
            In fact, why not show the movie? :D /j (kidding, don’t do this!)

          2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula

            ha! Like the time ToxicJob was threatening to makes us all participate in a talent show, so I had the idea that my group would do key scenes from Glengarry Glen Ross. One of my teammates and I had fun in the elevator doing the final scene between Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey, but I did feel sorry for the poor IT guy in there with us who had no idea what was going on and was wondering I was being so mean (I was doing Spacey’s character).

            The talent show idea fell through, thank goodness.

      3. OP 1

        Unfortunately songs were chosen by the “camp committee” so as to make sure they are work appropriate. My “cabin” was assigned Uptown Funk.

        1. Miss Astoria Platenclear

          Fine song, but I wouldn’t want to be forced to perform it or any other song at work.
          Rebel me is imagining gyrating throughout the performance to make it non-work-appropriate, like Olive’s performance in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

        2. Tigger

          Oh god. That song is horrible. I am so sorry.

          Bright side- It is an “easy” song to just stand in the background and bob your head to if you are forced to perform?

          1. Jules the 3rd

            Or do the whole oldies thing – I’m not super fond of the song, but I love the ‘old musicals’ compilation that someone did to it. Lots of Nicholas Brothers.

            But that should be *voluntary*. I’d like to do it, I’m a big fan of old musicals, but nobody should be forced into it.

        3. Canadian Public Servant

          Good to know the “appropriate” song they chose contains the word “b*tch” – I rankle every time I hear that song as a result, and I would NOT be pleased at lip syncing to it, even if the “clean” version is played.

          1. Environmental Compliance

            Yeah, I’m not entirely convinced that’s an “appropriate” song to lip sync at a work function, considering the entire song is about being hot, rich, & talented and having “uptown funk you up”, which is pretty much a play on “f*ck you up”.

          2. Light37

            Oh, good, it’s not just me. I liked the dance routine version I saw on Youtube, but really could have done without someone being referred to as a female dog.

        4. Michaela Westen

          Get a purple blazer and a fur coat and act out the video. Oh, and curlers. No dancing, as I recall. Could be worse, it’s a great song!

        5. sofar

          Ah yes, Uptown Funk. The “Walk out into your wedding reception with the bridal party” song of 2015.

        6. Mr. Shark

          Well that limits what you can do if you do participate. Yeah, if you can’t just limit yourself to a small part of the song, then I’d take the hit and loss of points. The whole thing is ridiculous, and I know I wouldn’t be dancing and lip syching to that song, no way.

      4. Phoenix Wright

        Here’s where you pick “Supper’s ready” by Genesis and force your entire company to sit still for 23 minutes, while you sing whatever Peter Gabriel’s crazy mind could come up with (is it a love song? Religious hymn? Battle anthem? I have no idea)

        1. Pilcrow

          Genesis, YES!!! Who could say no to the Apocalypse in 9/8?

          The entirety of Lamb Lies Down on Broadway would work, too… Cuckoo cocoon have I come to to soon for you?

      5. Syfygeek

        Jonathan Coulton’s Re: Your Brains.

        It’s cute, catchy refrain, and talks about getting along with coworkers.

        1. TeapotDetective

          Yesssssss. Especially if delivered with that perfect, perky, Helpful!(tm) smile.

        2. Blue Horizon

          Oh, that’s perfect. It even has zombie backup singers.

          For bonus points, you could have the zombie backup singers lurch out into the audience during the last chorus, ‘capture’ the exec judges, then do the Homer Simpson zombie brains joke.

    4. Lena Clare

      My stomach turned over when I read this. A WHOLE WEEK??

      OP, I hope you can implement just one of Alison’s ideas, and get out of what you can. Your company is bleurgh.

      Would you update us?

        1. Airy

          Remember the nurses who were asked to dress in pink or blue scrubs by gender for Nurses’ Appreciation Week?. I remember thinking “This feels like the organisers are just cribbing ideas from a list of activities for a school spirit week.” This just takes it to the next level. I suppose there’s a small minority of people who remember high school as great fun and would love to repeat its rituals in their grown-up workplace, and apparently they run a company.
          If the lip-sync is not limited to the 80s, I hope someone goes with Ugly Kid Joe’s “I Hate Everything About You.”

          1. Scarlet2

            “I suppose there’s a small minority of people who remember high school as great fun and would love to repeat its rituals in their grown-up workplace, and apparently they run a company.”

            They were probably the school bullies too.

            1. Managed Chaos

              What an unkind assumption about people who have fond memories of high school.

              Perhaps repeating the rituals (while a misguided attempt at company fun) bring back feelings of being carefree and less stressed than they usually face in a corporate environment.

              1. Scarlet2

                I’m not talking about all people who have fond memories of high school. I thought that was pretty obvious.
                I’m talking about the people who run *this particular company* and seem to get off on judging their underlings while they have to embarrass themselves, whilst pretending to “have fun”. If you add the threat that people who don’t perform “fun” in the appropriate manner will lose “points” (which might have an actual professional repercussions on the employees), I don’t see how those people can be seen as “trying to bring back being carefree and less stressed”.

                Their employees have every reason to be stressed.

            1. Artemesia

              This is precisely what it is like. Most sororities long ago dropped the overtly humiliating parts of hazing and substituted this sort of team building crap for pledges.

        2. Curmudgeon in Califormia

          “Spirit Week”??? Sounds like high school BS. I hated that crap back in high school, I’d call out sick if I had to do it at work.

          Sounds like a invitation to spend the week at home, drunk, getting into the “spirit”s.

          Maybe call in that you are sick and have lost your voice (from screaming about this garbage.) Yes, all week. Maybe you could get a note from a doctor (psych) that excused you from this anxiety producing “work”.

      1. Scarlet2

        Yeah! It would be bad enough if this was an evening of mandatory “fun”, but a WHOLE WEEK at “camp”???? What is this, a cult?

        1. Environmental Compliance

          And remember to drop in details about how it’s coming out both ends. Ain’t nobody want to question someone who is sick enough to have it come out both ends.

        2. Clisby

          This reminds of the (at least 3) times I opted my son out of his school’s mandatory field day. “Joseph won’t be at school today; he’s not feeling well.” I didn’t complete the sentence with “at the thought of having to suffer through field day.”

        3. Richard Hershberger

          This place would totally demand a doctor’s note. This might require finding someone with this flu and having them infect you. It would be totally worth it, though.

        1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

          *cringe* The thought is just pure cringeworthy. Take a copy of your high school diploma, tape it to your monitor, and point out that you left the “spirit” nonsense back then.

          Seriously, I would “get” a summer cold or flu for the week, and remember to share the TMI about the emissions. If enough people sick out of it, maybe they’ll get the point.

    5. Jasnah

      As someone who would likely be classed as “international staff”… I would not want to watch this recording, and I’m not sure what the purpose of sharing a recording of a team building exercise would be. Also I’m not sure that the “summer camp” theme would translate. Do your execs want the head office to be laughed at?

      I feel like this is going to create some weird new stereotypes about the American workplace…

      1. MK

        I don’t know about weird new stereotypes, but it certainly might validate existing ones. In my country U.S. companies have a reputation for trying to disguise their cutthroat, bleed-employees-dry ways under cheesy initiatives like this one.

        1. drinking Mello Yello

          I’m of all the postmortems written about when Walmart tried to make a go of it in Germany (and were deliciously unsuccessful)……..

              1. Clisby

                I did too! From a NYT article about it:

                “In Germany, Wal-Mart stopped requiring sales clerks to smile at customers — a practice that some male shoppers interpreted as flirting — and scrapped the morning Wal-Mart chant by staff members.

                “People found these things strange; Germans just don’t behave that way,” said Hans-Martin Poschmann, the secretary of the Verdi union, which represents 5,000 Wal-Mart employees here.”

                I know what they mean. I worked in Germany one summer, and yeah, people didn’t just go around flashing smiles at strangers. I don’t mean the Germans I encountered were rude or unfriendly – exactly the opposite – but they apparently weren’t raised to think you needed to go around smiling all the time.

                1. Scarlet2

                  Hah, yeah. It’s generally not something that people expect in a lot of European countries. I live in the Czech Republic and if employees anywhere went around smiling and saying hello to everyone, they’d probably scare off customers who would be concerned they were maniacs or something.

                2. Steggy Saurus

                  I’ve read a couple interesting articles about why Americans smile more. There are theories that is has to do with the immigrant nature of the country: lots of different cultures trying to get along in one country led to using smiling as a non-verbal way of expressing that they meant no harm. Eventually, this just developed into our cultural norm.

          1. Mockingjay

            I was living in Germany when Big W tried. My friend and I visited one out of curiosity. The look on normally staid German faces when forcefully, chirpily accosted at the door by a Greeter…

            1. Light37

              I don’t blame them. When I’m walking into or out of a store, I’m running through my shopping list or making sure I’ve got everything. I am not in chat mode.

        2. it's me

          “U.S. companies have a reputation for trying to disguise their cutthroat, bleed-employees-dry ways under cheesy initiatives like this one”

          Well, there you have it.

        3. OP 1

          It’s definitely more cost effective to pay for “team building” exercises than it is to award raises and bonuses.

          1. I’m looking for my creator

            I’m confused as to why this employer can’t find alternatives to this.

      2. Linguist

        I’m cringing just thinking about watching this.
        And on that note, even sitting it out (which OP totally should do) would be pretty excruciating for me.

        1. Jadelyn

          Same – I get intense secondhand embarrassment, so watching a bunch of people doing something like this, knowing that most of them probably are only doing it because they felt pressured to, would be difficult for me.

      3. Birch

        Yeah, same. Is this something that has been done before? If not, this might actually be a good thing to bring up–that the other office might not have the same kind of “team building” activities as part of their office culture and it could undermine your office’s professionalism in their eyes. Also yeah, nobody wants to watch that.

      4. Lemmy Caution

        I would watch the video expecting the kool-aid to be handed out at some point… seriously sounds… erm… cultish.

        1. Wintermute

          at oldjob they had a customer service thing where the meeting theme was “drink the kool-aid” and they were talking, basically, about buying in to their way of doing things.

          My jaw hit the floor, only time I’ve ever called the ethics line, I told them “do they realize that they’re making light of a mass murder?” Even without that context though, “drinking the kool-aid” is NEVER used in a positive context, it’s not buy-in, it’s tossing critical thought out the window and becoming cultish. Even without the Jonestown ickiness it was a wildly inappropriate slogan.

          1. General Ginger

            Wow. Do you know if your call had an effect/they stopped, or were you out of there by then?

            1. Wintermute

              I only got the mail because I was still on the call center’s e-mail distro after I moved cities to go work in their data center, so I wasn’t around to see the fallout. That was equally dysfunctional but in new and excitingly thoughtless ways, rather than the ones I was used to.

          2. Michaela Westen

            This right here is what’s wrong with corporate America. It is mind-boggling that people can be so clueless and unaware, but somehow they are.

      5. RUKiddingMe

        Right? Like this is necessary…

        As a whole there are some bad stereotypes about Americans already. Like we all read People magazine, eat hot dogs on white bread, and like reality tv.

        That’s only a minority who are forcing the rest of us to endure it, but the international community sees us as a bunch of unsophisticated, ill-educated yokels.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Am chuckling, they show the international community and people start quitting in droves figuring it’s either quit or be next to lip-sync.
          The assumption that others internationally would enjoy this really sets me on edge. Basically, it’s a huge lack of awareness.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I have this discomfort/sensitivity where I can feel deeply embarrassed on behalf of other people. My emotions would have to view this video from UNDER my chair, because the embarrassment would be that large.

      6. babblemouth

        Same here. What are we supposed to get out of this? Major second hand cringe? Hard pass.

      7. CAA

        [i]I feel like this is going to create some weird new stereotypes about the American workplace…[/i

        I used to get videos like this from an outsourced team in China that worked on one of my projects. Yes, it did make me wonder about the workplace culture, but they seemed proud that they had won.

    6. Julie K

      I didn’t like being forced to participate in activities when I was in summer camp. But being expected to do this stuff at a job is a whole new level of nope.

    7. Mookie

      In my mind, adulthood was invented to spare us these unnecessary humiliations (and, if possible, invent the means for all children to get out of them, as well).

    8. Seeking Second Childhood

      Sheesh… 80s clothes aren’t even at Goodwill anymore. They’re teenager favorites at ‘vintage’ shops.

      1. smoke tree

        I would be so annoyed at having to spend my time and money putting together costumes for this thing.

        1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

          I wore nose to toes black in the early 80s – ‘Goth’ before it was “cool”.

          Why would I want to re-create an era that I lived through?

          1. Kat in VA

            We had an 80s theme for our last Sales-related work event.

            I found the plastic beads, the hideous polyester pale yellow suit with exaggerated shoulder pads, the bow-bedecked headband (I was going for “corporate chic”).

            I felt so, so very old when our 20-something receptionist was dressed like a bookish librarian from that time period (think Laura Ashley style midi length floral skirt suit…where she got it I have no idea) and she noted that “styles weren’t that flattering in the 80s, were they?”

            No, sweetheart. They weren’t flattering when I wore them the first time around, and they’re not flattering now.

            To be fair – I supported the 80s theme, and people came up with some awesome costumes – my favorite was one of the directors dressed as a nerd from Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity a la “Revenge of the Nerds”.

      2. TardyTardis

        Although I still have some of those 80’s clothes in the back of my closet (though I pretty much cut out the shoulder pads because they look really odd on someone my short height).

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Aside from the whole thing being like nails on a chalkboard to me, I want to know when the management of this company is doing any actual work. Between thinking up, organizing, and grading these summer-camp activities, do they even have any time left?

    10. Karen from Finance

      I once was made to play charades (it’s called charades, right? The one where you mimic the name of a movie and people have to guess) at a company event. When it was my turn, I absolutely froze and the clock run out without me doing a single thing. When people complained at me I said I hadn’t seen the very popular movie because I took a shot at being the freak who hadn’t seen the very popular movie rather than being the freak with social anxiety.

      Why do employers assume everyone is of the type of personality that is ok with these things. A lot of us are not. This is not okay and it angers me.

      1. Clisby

        Yes, the performing part is the worst. I’ve played charades with my family when I was growing up and didn’t mind that at all, but nobody was recording it.

      2. Curmudgeon in Califormia

        This.

        I don’t watch TV any more, I can’t handle theater crowds any more (theaters when you have a mobility impairment but aren’t in a wheelchair just suck.) I seldom even watch “popular” stuff on streaming media. I don’t listen to pop radio or whatever streaming services play pop stuff.

        My job does not require it, why should I have to do it to play charades or karaoke which both require pop culture knowledge?

        I’d rather play CAH at work. That would be funny.

    11. Tigger

      So I have actually been at a company that does week-long spirit activities like that and they are not horrible. They weren’t my favorite thing in the world but it was ok -it gave us a nice 3-hour lunch and some free swag. The thing that bugs me is the recording aspect. That is a hard no for me. You can’t make me do something goofy and then record it.

      1. OP 1

        That’s the thing, Tigger. Other than the typical cons of working in this industry, my employer isn’t that bad. This year there was a roll out of new “organizational values” and the management as been a little overboard with those. Somehow teaming up for public performances is supposed to emulate them? I’m hoping after this week of bat$#!t craziness things will settle down.

        1. Tigger

          I hope so too. I wish I had the guts to say no I won’t do this but my hands are tied. Hopefully if enough people half ass it they will realize this is a no go. Good Luck OP!

        2. Filosofickle

          The company I work for does this kind of work – defining new organizational values – but the rollout is often not in our hands. I swear, we warn them off of stuff like this! Enforced fun and spirit week are just not an appropriate implementation of “values” or culture programs. (Neither is sticking them on the wall and ignoring them, which is also a popular client choice!)

          We do two kinds of work, and the culture side isn’t what I specialize in nor what I want to do more of. Culture matters and in the right hands a “values” program can be useful, but I’m cynical because I’ve rarely seen companies do a good job at implementation.

      2. Booksalot

        That stood out to me, too. I have worked with several people who have been very careful to avoid social media, being photographed at work events, etc. (Their reasons were not always public info, but I know at least one was hiding from an ex.) Requiring someone to be filmed doing something embarrassing is leveling up on the lunacy.

        1. Candace G

          Yup. I even ducked out of photographs when I was being given a national award, thanks to psycho-ex. This is NOT okay.

      3. Emily K

        Yeah, I would be super sketched out about being recorded.

        Like, every time there’s a major scandal in the news about a company, some video clip will surface of the company’s employees being frivolous while Rome burns and even though most of the employees in the video probably had no idea their C-suite was doing illegal/scandalous things, everyone in the video comes off looking really poorly. I hope that my employer is never involved in a big public scandal, but if they are, I don’t want a clip of me singing and dancing showing up on a 20/20 expose. It just feels like a bad idea.

    12. Ella P.

      I hate them too. We just had a lip sync battle that was not mandatory and I didn’t even go to support them… not without pressure, mind you, especially from my donkey of a boss who seems to think everything is shangri-fricken-la when many hate working here… and I don’t drink but that never stops them from trying to pressure me into going to a happy hour, and my boss giving me a regifted bottle of wine for the holidays…

      OK so I hate my employer and yours. Maybe if enough people sit out they may get the message that there are better things to spend time on… sometimes I wish I was more into these things but I don’t know if you are happy at work and it flows from that or if some people are into this stuff, others aren’t.

      Good luck!

    13. Phony Genius

      Do what I do – call your county clerk and volunteer for jury duty.

      Yes, I very recently did this for a similar reason. True!

      1. Environmental Compliance

        Okay, 100% filing this information away for when I need it. I had no idea you could volunteer for jury duty!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

        Can you DO that?! I’ve never ever been called for jury duty and always wanted to.

        1. Phony Genius

          In the U.S., it depends on your state and/or county. There may also be a rule that you can’t if you served too recently.

      3. Clisby

        I didn’t even know this was possible – great idea! (Might depend on jurisdiction, though – definitely would depend on whether there was some term of court during the crazy-work week.)

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        Wowwww what? This is possible? I learn so many things on this blog, thank you!

      5. Seeking Second Childhood

        Rats… it seems unavailable in my state. But if I get called to appear before an unpleasant event I can postpone & ask to reschedule to a specific day. Hmm.

    14. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway

      What is the damage of these managers that want to re-live the worst parts of school? Do they have no friends or social lives outside work? Do they just love to oppress people and abuse their power? If these were my bosses, any shred of respect I may have had for them would be gone — do they not realize they are likely antagonizing way more folks than have the courage and ability to speak up? OP1, my heart goes out to you for having to put up with this.

      I have to wonder….if the US were to get a universal healthcare system not tied to employment, how much of this would go away because no one would be doubly stuck due to needing decent insurance in addition to wages.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        I have to wonder….if the US were to get a universal healthcare system not tied to employment, how much of this would go away because no one would be doubly stuck due to needing decent insurance in addition to wages.

        This thought has crossed my mind way too many times.

        I think the large corporations, which are the ones most prone to this nonsense, would lose a LOT of people if that happened.

    15. RussianInTexas

      So, I know how to get out of these things, and I have in fact employed the strategy before. Be the person who drags the average down. On purpose. No one will want you. Or refuse, refuse, refuse.
      At my Old Job we would have “Race across Australia”, “Race across Africa” team challenges. The pressure to join a team was HUGE. You could walk, run, bike, swim. You could only count bike miles for 1/4 of the total team mileage though.
      Anyway, I couldn’t be bothered. I don’t do non-work related team events, and have zero interest in competing, in fact people who get so wound up about these things are silly to me. Few other people couldn’t bother either. My director tried to get us all in to one team (yes, because people who can’t be bothered will be really good at team). I stood firm.
      Anyway, they stopped doing it because teams in Calgary of Geneva would always win, because the events would be held during summer, and, well, Houston during summer.

        1. I Wrote This in The Bathroom

          I would love to be on a team of people who can’t be bothered.

          Like Ethel from last week’s post, but the exact opposite.

          We’d happily take last place and none of us would care. Then we’d all go out for drinks to celebrate!

    16. lilsheba

      My work place tried to get us involved in humiliating team building games that I hated, and just sat out. I just can’t do these stupid spirit type things, they’re ridiculous. And embarrass the hell out of me.

    17. Emily K

      “Ain’t no spirit like workplace spirit, because workplace spirit is mandatory!”

    18. Elsewhere1010

      If it were me, my song of choice would be Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise”. Lovely melody (albeit a song for soprano, and I’m a bass), about five-and-a-half minutes long, and no words. It’s all sung on “ah”, so all I’d have to do is open my mouth and stand there, which is all I would do.

      You make me suffer, I’ll make you suffer.

    19. Easter

      OP1, I have no advice, just a deep sigh and empathetic head nod. Last year, my company’s version of a “culture committee” decided the best way for staff in different offices spread over the entire state to get to know one another was a mandatory “retreat” complete with required “skit” to introduce your team/project.

  2. Anononon

    #3. …maybe talk to Wells Fargo about how well that worked for them. Obviously nowhere close to the same scale/severity, but still this is pretty atrocious!

        1. Goya de la Mancha

          Hang in there :( Sending you good vibes that you can get out as soon as possible!

          Some of the day to day stuff with the company was not horrendous. They did reimburse some of my tuition while I was in school, I worked with a great group of people that I still keep in frequent contact with (even 10+ years later), and have managed to transfer some of the skills I learned (the legal ones ;) ) to my preceding jobs.

    1. Indigo a la mode

      I saw a World Cup commercial for Wells Fargo yesterday with the line, “Nobody likes a surprise with their account balance.”

      hahahahahathat’s rich coming from you

      So much side-eye. Like they think we’ve all forgotten. I assure you, OP, whether or not your office thinks it’s cool…if this comes out, your volunteers and community will Not Be Happy, and you don’t want to be connected to that.

  3. Maria Lopez

    OP2- I have a long-time friend who I’ve known since high school (typewriter days) who went on to become a well-known TV writer for many sitcoms in the 70s, 80s and 90s. He types with both index fingers, never any other fingers, and his wife says he types faster than she does and rarely makes mistakes.
    As irksome as it can be to watch someone type this way, if the work output is good, leave it be.

    1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

      I use four fingers in total and I type very fast. I don’t look at the keyboard though, as I know where the keys are – which has more effect than whether you use x or y number of fingers.

      1. valentine

        I’ve tried typing courses, but my brain just says no to the home row. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. It’s unkind and weird to ensure an employee his work is great while asking if he’d like to learn a method more visually aesthetic to some.

        1. Wintermute

          eh, ergonomics matters, I’m firmly on team “doing this the normal way is expected workplace behavior” here. For ergonomics and for speed, even if his work is up to speed his typing probably isn’t, but I know for a fact that he can’t be using the proper technique to avoid RSI that way.

          1. Maria Lopez

            I don’t know. Doing it the normal way you still get carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. My friend, now in his seventies, has neither of those, nor does he have arthritis in those fingers, and he started typing on a manual typewriter.

          2. bonkerballs

            You really can’t know that. I physically can’t type the normal way you’re supposed to because my hands are too small and the tendons in my fingers are too tight. I type with multiple fingers but my hands move around the keyboard and I just can’t do it the “normal way.” Oh, and the last time I checked I was at 92 wpm. So…

            And anyway, even if his typing is slow but his work is up to speed…what is the problem?

      2. Karen from Finance

        Well it depends. I have to glance at the keyboard at least every now and then because I have the bad habit of doing the correct movements with my fingers, but positioning my hands slightly off on the keyboard. Sometimes that’s the reason people look at the keyboard rather than searching for each key.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          Yeah, me too, especially on keyboards that don’t have some kind of marker on F and J. I get the distances right, but not always the starting point.

          1. TootsNYC

            Or you learn on a keyboard w/ markers on D and K (bcs those are your longer fingers), and switch to one w/ dots on F and J.

            Happened to me.

            1. Karen from Finance

              Iy happens! I got them to give me a keyboard I can connect to my laptop by USB, so that I can put my laptop on a stand when I’m on my desk and have better posture. But now I got used to not using the smaller laptop keyboard and I type embarrassingly bad during meetings.

        2. Dontlikeunfairrules

          I’m the same about looking at the keyboard off and on – and I consistently type 70-80 wpm. People walk by my office and call me Machine Gun Kelly.

          When I started at my current job I was unfamiliar with the various programs so I was typing slower than usual and also looking at my keyboard off and like i always have. My boss was training me and literally would stand an inch away behind my left shoulder (which made me a bit nervous) so I’d make dumb typing mistakes that I’d never make normally.

          As he watched me type (and saw me look down at my keyboard occasionally), he said “You have to look at the keys? William (the VP who was very involved in my being hired) isn’t going to like that.” So of course that made me even MORE nervous and I *so* wanted to defend myself or mention his hovering but I knew once I was alone and feeling less scrutinized I’d be back to my normal speed. Which I totally am, and he’s never said anything since.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar

            I absolutely HATED it when a long-ago boss hovered over my shoulder, and deliberately made lots of stupid mistakes. Of course she commented that it wasn’t my usual quality of work. I told her I usually didn’t have anyone hovering and crowding me. She gave me a flat look but left me alone. Surprise, no more stupid mistakes.

            Used to work with a brave s0ul who also hated being hovered. Without warning, she would roll her chair backward, hitting whoever was hovering or even rolling over a foot: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I get so focused I forgot you were there. You might not want to do that anymore…’

    2. Wendy Darling

      I type 90wpm completely incorrectly and primarily only use the first 2 fingers on each hand (thumb only for space, pinkies only for shift/enter/ctr etc, ring fingers basically not at all). I am what happens when you learn to type with zero formal training by trying to keep up with IRC chats in the 90s. I occasionally consider learning to type “correctly” but since I type 90wpm like this and don’t have repetitive stress issues I’ve decided it’s not worth it — I’d go slow for a long time before I got up to speed again and the way I type isn’t hurting anything.

      I don’t care if people ask if I’ve considered learning to type properly but I would get pretty annoyed if someone tried to push it with me, especially since I’m already very fast. If it irritates people to watch me type like this they should stop watching me type.

      The only time I’ve ever known someone type so slow it was a problem is my father in law, who cannot type fast enough to fill out the Ticketmaster form before it times him out.

      1. Maria Lopez

        For people like me who learned to type on typewriters, it made a difference how accurate you were, since correcting the paper meant using whiteout, and carbon paper was a bear.
        With the advent of word processors and then computers, accuracy really wasn’t that important because correcting was just a backspace, no paper, no whiteout.
        Of course, if your job was as a typist or secretary that was a different matter. Speed AND accuracy was always important.

        1. Life is Good

          OMG! I remember typing on three part forms with three different colors. The white out was tinted to each color of the the pages. You learned to be accurate really fast because it was a PIA to take that sucker out of the typewriter and paint over each error and wait for them to dry before you could start up again. Thank goodness for word processors!

          1. Maria Lopez

            Then after you corrected the paper you had to put it back in and try to line it up. I NEVER got it lined up perfectly. I heard the later, fancier typewriters made it easier to do this, but my serious typing days were over by then.

        2. Amethyst Anne

          I learned to type in 1970, and used a pen eraser when correcting a mistake Sometimes I was not gentle enough, ending up with a hole in the paper where the error was.

          Correction fluid was such a good thing.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar

            I learned to type in the 70s, too, and hated – HATED – those long erasers with a brush on one end. I made peace with Ko-rec-type, but it wasn’t much better. When Wite Out hit the market, I thought it was the greatest invention ever.

          2. Robbenmel

            I remember being SO EXCITED to have an IBM Selectric that would display one line of type electronically above the keyboard that you could see, and you could backspace and correct before hitting enter to print the line on the paper. That is, if you weren’t too fast and remembered to look at the line before you hit enter. Still, the FUTURE, it was.

        3. Coral

          When I was in high school in the Stone Age (late 60’s), my guidance counselor told my parents and me that it would be best it I did not learn to type. Girls who could type just ended up as somebody’s secretary or “girl friday”. She believed that, even if you had a college degree and were otherwise well-qualified for a non-admin job, once the men in your area knew you could type, you were doomed to spend your life behind a typewriter. This had been her fate as a new college grad.

          I ended up taking a very short typing course on my own time but was not particularly good at it. My first jobs didn’t require typing skills but eventually I applied for a position in my field where it was requested. The employment agency had me take a test over and over until I got 33 wpm. They played up my knowledge in the field and people skills. I got the job and it was the best job and boss I ever had. Eventually we got word processing. The boss later acknowledged that she knew my typing was weak but my depth of knowledge could not be duplicated.

          My keyboarding skills are still not great. I have to proof read and I cautiously rely on spell check to catch stuff. In an office setting, though, I am readily able to produce my own correspondence and documents with little problem even if I do have to look at my fingers sometimes

          1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

            I took typing in a summer school course in the 70s. I *never* admitted that I could type *at all* until the PC became an office tool. Then I made bank because admins who could use the software made more money. After a while, I went into technical work, and was valued because I could write and do data entry. Now I run computer systems.

            TL; DR: I didn’t admit to knowing how to type until I started working with computers.

      2. Miso

        Yeah, same with me. I also type totally “wrong”, but fast, due to chatting a LOT as a teenager.

        I actually did have to take a typing course for work though. Thankfully, it was enough to do a weekend course. I passed the speed test on day 2 of 3 (way way WAY slower than how I usually type) and went back to typing how I did before on Monday.

      3. Jennifleurs

        Yess, I’m similar, I type using just my right hand, looking at the keys quite a lot, because for some reason that’s how I did it when I started writing fanfic back when I was 11! I’m not that accurate, but I’m not in a job where first-time accuracy matters.

      4. Cascadian

        Same. My typing speed has never been an issue in my work, and my error rate when tested is nearly zero. I have some right/left dyslexia so formal typing lessons never took.

      5. Glitsy Gus

        I use all my fingers, but I don’t use standard form/home keys. I’m usually at well over 70wpm, so i don’t stress about it either. Mine is from a combination of self-teaching and a smaller-than-average finger reach on my right hand that I innately learned to compensate for.

        At one point I did try to learn how to touch type, but because I’m so used to how I already do things it actually made my wpm go down significantly. No matter how much I practiced I was still significantly faster doing it my own way. So, yeah, if you just want to make your employee even faster than the speed he is at (that has already been deemed acceptable), forcing him to type “correctly” may really backfire on you. Plus, if he’s doing fine, why try to fix what isn’t broken? He’s a human, not a typing machine to be ‘tweaked’ for higher output.

    3. My cat bites my blanket

      This! I’d completely forgotten about this until now, but when I first started at my current job, my boss was concerned about what my typing speed would be like because I peck. He tried to get me to touch type at first but I kept reverting to pecking when we got busy because typing in a new format was way slower, and after a couple of months my boss saw that pecking wasn’t stopping me from producing the volume of writing he was looking for so he recanted what he said before and I’ve done my superfast pecking ever since.

    4. WS

      The fastest typist I ever met (consistent 160wpm) uses two fingers on each hand plus thumbs when needed. I touch type and can get to 90wpm on a good day but not for long. Ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

      1. Hardwood Floors

        For hunt and peck method question: I type with four fingers. And have been successful at it for many years. I was in a formal typing class and broke my hand skiing and received bad grades due to poor speed (while wearing a cast.) So I decided to figure out what worked best for me and never looked back.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Yep. Back in the days of the old manual typewriters, where you had to hit each key HARD, I knew of a reporter typing with two fingers who did 90 wpm.

        OP, if they want him to increase his speed, then they need to say that. But they should NOT tell him what method to use to increase his speed. My rule has always been, don’t mess with highly productive people. They are self-correcting which is how they got to be highly productive. If they find a method to do something faster they will make that adjustment on their own. Be sure to mention this fact to TPTB.

    5. Mookie

      I was brought up (in the 80s) doing the two index fingers dance, and although I am faster typing conventionally, I swear I was more accurate doing it the wrong way. I’m on a tablet right now, engaging in some nostalgia and, yep: quite speedy and nary a typo. I’m actually a little bit tickled by the LW’s question; I didn’t really think people cared anymore, now that keyboards have lost their class associations, not to mention gone digital.

    6. Jack V

      I also wonder, is he definitely looking at the keyboard?

      I’m another person who learned to type because I had a home computer in the 80s and always did programming, but never learned to type properly as I never needed to regularly type text (and what I do type has more non-letters). I use two fingers for the letters/numbers/symbols, a thumb for the space bar and little fingers for the shift key.

      And I wondered about learning to touch type, but it never seemed worth it as I never really needed to type fast. I’m slower than real typists and don’t have the stamina and am less perfect, but can get words out reasonably fast. I think most people who do programming-type work are probably similar.

      But I certainly can type without looking at the keyboard. In practice, I usually keep an eye on it out of the corner of my eye to make sure I return my fingers to a central position, so I can’t reliably type a long document without ever looking at it. But I can glance down every few sentences and that’s fine.

      I didn’t set out to learn that — it’s just that after years of typing, my fingers learn the pattern. It’s quite surprising that someone can type rapidly and their fingers never DID learn that. So even though OP says that he does, I wonder if it’s more of a “glancing occasionally” thing than an actually needing to look to find the keys? It only really makes a difference if you need to transcribe written text into the computer and keep your eyes on that not keyboard or screen, which is far less common now than it was 50 years ago.

      1. Kathleen_A

        Yeah, if his speed is OK, he probably isn’t actually looking at the keyboard all the time – just from time to time to check on the location of things like symbols and so on. But heck, I’m a touch-typist (though admittedly not a particularly good one) and I do that sometimes too because until the last, oh, 20 years or so, the location of some symbols wasn’t completely standardized – e.g., the apostrophe used to be over the 8 and now it’s floating over there on the other side of the two colons. So I rarely even try to touch-type symbols.

        Anyway, I’ve known plenty of 3- or 4-fingered typists who were faster than me, a fairly sloppy touch-typist. I have also known hunt-and-peck typists who were ludicrously slow. So if the man is doing good work, leave him alone.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I use an undetermined number of fingers (probably 4-5) and in my 30-year career, it never hurt me. We did not have typing classes in school (and even if we had taken them, they would’ve been for the Cyrillic keyboard and I would’ve had to learn from scratch when I came to the US). I tried using the Typing of The Dad PC game to learn to type properly, whenever it came out (something like 10-15 years ago), but didn’t have the motivation to stick with it. Granted I do not do data entry for a living, and probably wouldn’t be able to because of not knowing how to touch-type; but does anyone in 2019?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        Correction: “Typing of the Dead!” lol Way to prove that I can type!

    8. sparty07

      I typically type with about three fingers, first two on the left side and the index finger on the left side, occasionally using my pinky finger to hit the shift key. I typically don’t need to look at the keyboard except to get myself set up for the next set of typing. I am typing worse today because I hurt my shoulder last night during hockey. In seventh grade, I was always the fastest/most accurate person in our technology class using mavis beacon when the teacher was on the other side of the class, allowing me to use my three finger methodology. When he was on my side observing I was average speed and below average accuracy. Once you learn how to type it can be very hard to shift how you do it.

    9. Elizabeth West

      Fast typing is an advantage for a writer, regardless of how you do it. Method doesn’t really matter, however.

      I used to type with one hand, lol. I’m glad I learned to type the regular way finally (with Mavis Beacon). You know what improved my speed the most, after I learned it? Talking in a real-time chat room. I had to speed up to keep up!

      But really, I’ve had admin jobs where the application specified a minimum typing speed and then never did any typing at work. Or if I did, there was no time or speed limit on whatever task I was doing. Plus, you can record meetings and then transcribe them later. I think it’s just a holdover from Mad Men days.

    10. Public Sector Manager

      I’ve been a “hunt and peck” typist all my life (despite having to take a year of ROP typing in high school), I’ve been a lawyer for almost 25 years, and I’ve never missed a deadline or had a performance issue because of the way I type.

      OP, re-read your letter. You’ve got a great employee who gets results and all your manager wants to do is nitpick the way this employee types? You all are a tough crowd. This is such small potatoes. I wouldn’t even offer the typing class. If this employee’s typing is causing missed deadlines, annoyed clients, etc., then yes, you need to intervene. But if this employee is performing, you need to push back on your boss.

    11. Mr. Shark

      I’ve always wondered about this. I see millennials and younger employees these days, and I know they probably didn’t take typing classes (though I guess there were “keyboarding” classes when my niece/nephew were in school). Yet they have also been working on a keyboard in some form from when they were just a young kid, so whatever style they’ve developed, they are pretty efficient at.

      I used to type much faster and more accurate than I do now. These days I rely way too much on autocorrect (especially when I’m texting, I rarely text a word correctly). I also don’t have to type big blocks of text like I did when I did take typing class, so I’m usually looking at whatever content I’m creating, and know if I make an error.

      1. Emily K

        I’m an elder Millennial and I fondly recall the typing tutor software I used to learn typing when I was, oh, 8 or 10? It was like Space Invaders, except the enemy ships were words and in order to fire your blaster at them you had to type the word. Different words fell at different speeds and if any word hit the bottom before you typed it you would lose. I played that game all the time! Probably a big part of why I’m such a fast typer today – fast typing was incentivized for me long before it became useful in my career.

        1. Mr. Shark

          Oh yes. Heck, I knew how to type, and I’d play that game when it came out, just for fun.

    12. CatMom

      Yep! That’s pretty much my dad (though shift the time frame about 15 years). Types with two fingers and shockingly fast!

    13. Dragon_Dreamer

      I type like this, mostly because of arthritis. I’m actually far slower touch typing, because not all my fingers are flexible enough to manage without pain! (30wpm touch, 90wpm two finger) As long as he types quickly and accurately, I wouldn’t even offer typing lessons. He likely had them in school, but found this method works better for him.

    14. Curmudgeon in Califormia

      I type with one hand, on a regular keyboard. My other hand doesn’t work. People actually have not noticed that I am using only one hand, and been surprised when they realized it.

      If it doesn’t hurt their work output, leave it be. Offer “typing improvement lessons” to the whole office, but don’t be shocked if he’s not interested.

    15. plmanager

      I’m an old-school touch typist from way back. I took typing in high school, and I’m fast and accurate — as proven by many (many) college temp jobs I had. I noticed some time ago that my son (middle schooler) is a two-finger typist, and wondered whether we needed to do additional touch typing training. He’s also got some learning differences, and a couple of his specialists have told me that as long as he’s comfortable and getting work done, they aren’t going to worry about how he’s typing. Getting the words out is the first big step, and he’s learning to go back and edit, use spellcheck, etc. From them I’ve gathered that typing expectations are changing, and that the focus is on output and accuracy, not whether someone knows where home row is. It’s not specific to him, either, our daughter has the same typing curriculum (starts in elementary) and they’ve used the same approach. If that’s our school’s policy, then I’m thinking we’re going to see a lot more kids typing like my son as Gen Z enters the workforce. I hope for my son’s sake that future managers are prepared to let typing style go, and to be ready for employees who dictate or use speech-to-text apps instead of typing.

  4. Auntie Social

    “Asks if you’re coming to work every day”—Have your direct manager talk to her. “Ellen starts at 9 am, not 8, and she stays until 5. She’s my employee, is there a question you have?” Your manager’s tone being “this is the only conversation we’re going to have about my employee and I’m shutting you down.” If I were your manager I’d be annoyed that she didn’t just stay in her lane.

    1. Engineer Girl

      As a coworker my response would be: “You’ll find out in an hour!”
      Then I’d go right back to work.

      1. designbot

        I think I’d be like, yep and I don’t think your questioning her schedule is going to change that any time soon, sorry!

    2. Not So NewReader

      I had a cohort in another department routinely ask when I would be into work. This went on for months. I gave the same answer each time. FOR MONTHS.

      I thought to myself, “What’s really going on here?” I was just about ready to put a post-it note on her phone for her to keep, when the questioning stopped. Cold, hard stop.

      Holding it in the best light possible, I think she had unrelated concerns about the job and she was trying to nail down when people would be around. Everything else was fine, she was pleasant and we enjoyed talking to each other. (She was justified in having many large concerns about her job.)

    3. Workin' 9:30-6

      OP4 here–I suggested almost exactly this to my manager when she first told me. She’s *definitely* annoyed, but she has larger issues with this person that I think make her feel like it’s not worth addressing directly. I actually work these hours because the director of my office specifically wants coverage at the end of the day, and the coworker may or may not know that. I think because we we work together so closely she’d probably like me to be in earlier, but she hasn’t actually brought this up to our director, as far as I know. I haven’t decided how/if I’m going to speak up, but appreciate all the good suggestions from Alison and others!

      1. Jules the 3rd

        Oooo – I think you have a real entry point with that ‘coverage at the end of the day’ angle. If you work together a lot, and you’re comfortable with it, would you be ok dedicating some time right after you get in to checking in with her? Maybe something like, ‘Hey Jane, I’ve heard you ask where I am in the mornings. I come in later so that we have EOD coverage. When you get in and are thinking through the day, why don’t you write down what you want to discuss with me, and we’ll meet (daily / 3x week / whatever makes sense) for 15 minutes at 9:15 to coordinate.’

      2. LCL

        If your office uses outlook, set it up so she has a reminder every day that you come in at 9.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          Do what some of our contractors and PMs do, send her a meeting invite with your work schedule. (Ours typically send a meeting invite for, say, June 25-28, saying something like “Fred Bobberson is on vacation 6/25-28”, but you can send her a recurring invite for 8AM instead and say “I’ll be in at 9:00!”) (Don’t actually do this, OP :))

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

          While actually having Outlook send her reminders about your work schedule is probably not a good idea, if you haven’t done so yet it might be worth setting to your correct work hours in the place where that actually goes. I have Outlook set with my actual work hours rather than whatever the default is (with a fake recurring “meeting” to block off the one morning I come in later each week since Outlook doesn’t seem to understand different hours on different work days), which reduces the number of meetings that I get scheduled into at times I’m not at work. My office doesn’t require everyone to actually use their Outlook calendar and keep their availability up-to-date, but it does help with those who do.

      3. Ella P.

        You know it could be my own stuff, based on having a very snide person make comments about my schedule to me, consistently… but I have a hard time seeing this as anything but passive aggressive and some attempt at making you look bad in some way and/or expressing her own frustration. I think it’s interesting that there are larger issues, there were with the person I dealt with as well. I mean do you usually take lunch and not return? what an odd thing to ask if that’s not something that happens with some regularity.

        I also wonder if people are mentioning this to you implying you should handle this directly or simply making you aware of the situation.

        It’s of course up to you. I have a friend who tells me ‘either confront it or let it go’. You could speak with her or you could send her an email (I like things in writing myself) stating something like “I understand you’ve been asking people about my schedule. I work 9:30-6 to ensure coverage at the end of the day. If there’s ever a change, I made sure to update the office calendar, you can view that here (link). I also post a note on my monitor, to remind people who stop by”. Something like that.

        I mean maybe she leaves and doesn’t know you stay till 6 pm and is resentful that she thinks you work a shorter schedule? I don’t know but good luck. For her to keep doing this, there has to be some reason and who knows what it is.

        In my case the person made comments when I left “oh leaving already” and when I stayed late “what, you’re still here?”. She sat outside my office, I was new, she had wanted the job I was hired for… so this is how she handled it and ignored it and her for the most part. I knew she would be moving to another spot and I would be in her current cube… and in my case my boss is not one to rock the boat, being new I also didn’t want to bother her with something so petty… but it was challenging so I feel for you. Good luck!

        1. MYOB

          @Ella P.: Yeah, I wrote in the other day that I have one of those … It drives me nuts! Good to know it’s not just me.

        2. Peter the Bubblehead

          My office is open from 5:30am to 5:30pm. We are allowed to work our 8 hour work day anytime between these hours.

          I have one co-worker in my group who used to be the only one coming in at 6:00am. Most of our group co-workers would arrive between 7:30 and 8:00. Many a day we would have to listen to all the snide comments about how much more work he was doing because he was coming to work two hours before the majority of our group until our task manager finally had enough and sat him down and asked, “Do you think everyone else is leaving at 2:00pm like you do?? NO! They work another two hours beyond when you are here and are doing as much work as you do!”

          (In fact, most of us were doing MORE work than him! We started keeping track of tasks and determined that, while he was coming in at 6:00, he wouldn’t actually sit down and start working until the next person showed up in the office, whether that was 30 minutes later or 90 minutes later.)

          1. Former Employee

            He had a good thing going and messed it up by making snide comments.

            If no one was around for at least the first 30 minutes of his shift, he could have been drinking his coffee and balancing his checkbook and who’d know.

        3. Glitsy Gus

          I think the email is a good idea. I would cc your manager on it as well, so if she does ask again your manager has an easy, low confrontation opening to just say, “she sent you an email about this. You should know her schedule. Please stop asking me.” If they already have some friction it’ll prevent this from becoming yet another thing that adds to it.

      4. Mr. Shark

        Yes, I think I’d want to speak to her. Or you could go the passive-aggressive approach and tell her, “hey, I looked for you at 5:30 yesterday, did you decide to take off early?” every morning when you get in at 9:30. :)

        But seriously, I think the straightforward approach is the best. Let her know why you are working the altered-shift, because the director wants it that way, and tell her that it provides better coverage for both of you, since you get the advantage of her being in early with requests, and you being able to cover late when she’s gone.

        I had a coworker who would ask me every day when I was leaving. Finally I got annoyed and said, “why do you ask me that, every day I leave at the same time.” He got the point, and stopped completely, and told me some things that I asked him that bothered him as well. So, the key is communication!!

      5. Blunt Bunny

        You say you work closely with her, is that proximity or by collaborating? Because I would inform relevant people in my office if I was taking a half day. I would also say goodbye to people in the office and when I’m going home.
        I know the working hours and days of the people I work closely with and if I wasn’t sure I could check they’re outlook calendar or see if on Skype they were available or out office. This would be obvious if you needed to have meetings, that OP is never in before 8am. They would also be able to see your replies to any of her emails after she left.
        The petty in me would say to her “leaving already?” when she was setting out the door and continue to do it until she stopped asking about me. Because she couldn’t possibly be that forgetful and need to speak to you first thing ever morning.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I worked somewhere where people would do this. The problem was, we were service sector and a lot of the managers had to flex their hours based on the needs of their department. So someone would say, “Oh is Fergus coming in today?” when Fergus came in a little late to compensate for the fact he needed to be around until 10 pm when we closed, and then say, “Oh taking a half-day, Fergus?” when Fergus cut out at 3 because he’d arrived at 5:15 when we opened. Or, “Taking a vacation, Fergus?” when he took Monday off to compensate for the fact that he’d put in 20 hours on both Saturday and Sunday.

      Sometimes they’d even complain, “Ugh I can’t FIND Fergus!” when Fergus was in his office, but they didn’t feel like walking to the back of the building, or “Fergus is never here!” when Fergus actually was managing an offsite facility and working 10 hour days.

        1. female peter gibbons

          My absolute pet peeve is the Nosy Nancys who have to say something when I’m OBVIOUSLY going to the bathroom at like 11 am or 2 pm or whatever. I’m a woman who takes my purse with me (soooo many reasons. 1 is that I need a security card to get back into the office!) and a coworker would turn to me and say “Where are you going?” or “Leaving for the day?” Do you seriously not use the washroom between 9 and 5?

  5. Chaotic Neutral

    Oof yeah I’d be texting out sick on lip sync battle day for sure. With laryngitis. *Sorry boss I can barely whisper*

    1. Yvette

      Except that lip sync means you move your lips and don’t actually sing. So laryngitis would not be an issue. Unless you were making a joke and it went way over my head. :)

      1. Chaotic Neutral

        Lockjaw would also be an acceptable blatantly fake excuse for escaping a lip synch battle

    2. Sleepytime Tea

      I would have to go with food poisoning. You absolutely cannot come to work while throwing up and it passes quickly enough that you can come back to work right away without anyone thinking you recovered magically fast.

  6. Gaia

    My typing form is a hot mess. But I type quickly (about 80wpm) with high accuracy so I don’t give it a second thought.

    1. Sleepytime Tea

      I have worked with a number of highly productive people who type very quickly with the hunt and peck method. I’ve actually talked to them about it, because even though they are faster than average they could potentially be faster with the home row method, and I was just curious if they had thought about that. Ultimately, unless you are spending ALL of your time typing, a few words a minute probably isn’t going to make a huge change in your productivity, and trying to re-learn something and make that switch would slow you down for awhile.

      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      1. Lock

        Honestly, everyone who uses the “hunt-and-peck” method of typing knows it’s not the most efficient, and has heard, at minimum, twenty times about how they should consider learning to type properly. Typing “properly” has been a concept for decades now, introducing it as a new concept to an adult feels sort of rude. Not malicious, but rude nonetheless.

  7. Tomalak

    I’d have thought that for most people the limiting factor in typing speed is how quickly they can think through the wording of their sentences? I had to pause a little even writing that previous sentence. Being able to hit keys a bit faster doesn’t make your brain any faster.

    1. Jasnah

      Agreed, this seems like worrying about something that can technically be improved but doesn’t actually matter once you’ve mastered the basic motor skills, like how to hold a pencil or how to tie your shoes.

    2. Róisín

      Really? I’m a pretty fast typist but I can think WAAAAY faster than I can type. If I’m typing long things I prefer to use speech-to-text because it’s so much faster.

      But then, I’ve been told I think at the speed of light, so that may be a personal problem.

      1. Asenath

        I tried speech-to-text, but then felt like I needed to go back over the text, which I disliked more than my own method. I can type fairly fast and fairly accurately, although I haven’t measured my skills in years. I taught myself, and decided when I was a university student that I needed to be faster and more accurate. So I did exercises in one of those computer typing programs. I’m not at a professional touch typist level, but I’m good enough for my and my employer’s needs. I’d say if the guy gets his work done – well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

        1. Antilles

          Same. I can certainly talk faster than I can text, but speech-to-text isn’t really at the level that you can use it exclusively. At least not for important business conversations – in an informal text message or shooting off a quick email where it doesn’t matter, it’s fine. But if you’re writing something where punctuation matters, using the right “to” versus “too”, and so forth, it’s just not really at the level where you don’t have to go right back over it and edit everything.

          1. Wintermute

            I still remember my dad, who has terrible dyslexia and a fairly high-level job now, trying to use text-to-speech. he was trying to say “Garry” and it kept putting “Barry”. what finally convinced him to to uninstall it was when he got frustrated enough to yell at it and it dutifully transcribed that it was a “pizza ship”

    3. Lucy

      Depends on the job. Copy typing and audio typing are generally limited by WPM – digital dictation can be speeded up for very quick typists. I assume some people’s WPM is higher than their reading speed, but I’ve not met any!

      1. Lucy

        However, words I can never type accurately first time, and which always stop me in my tracks, requiring “look and stab”:

        1. The case type I handle most often at work (imagine “teapot” or “llama” in the classic AAM scenarios).
        2. The other case type I handle most often at work.
        3. My own name.

        1. VlookupsAreMyLife

          I mistype my own first name CONSTANTLY due to the placement of 2 letters being inverted from their typical positioning in most other words. And autocorrect changes the spelling of my last name to a common-but-not-my-actual-name word.

          Chances of me getting my own name right the first time on any given day: 4% :/

          1. Mr. Shark

            I’m with you there. Every time I close out an e-mail, I have to make sure my first name is typed correctly, because I constantly get the first two letters switched for some strange reason.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood

            I live on a street that is named after a person whose name is one letter shorter than a common English word. I have taken to warning people who are typing it because I’m starting to get tired of the typo.

    4. TootsNYC

      I got up to 125 wpm (touch typing) because I used to compose at the keyboard in college. Also because I group individual letters into patterns. Like, “t i o n” is not t + i + o + n; it’s this cascading motion. Ditto “ding” and even “ditto.”

      My memory for those kinds of patterns is really deep.

      I would imagine that someone using two or four fingers could do the same sort of mental trick to get some hefty speed.

      1. TardyTardis

        I’m a little slower now because I have a liner over my keyboard to keep out cat hair and cracker crumbs, but it’s worth it to me to not have my keyboard die long before the laptop does.

  8. Old Nick, Old Scratch, Lucy

    OP1-
    The real question is:

    What are they truly trying to get out of that activity?

    1. Tau

      Sometimes I think it’s employee bonding via providing a common enemy, but I’m not sure management has thought this through that far.

      1. Old Nick, Old Scratch, Lucy

        Employees tend to bond over naturally occurring events.

        I’ve seen these types of activities before. It had the opposite effect.

        1. Tau

          The “common enemy” I was referring to was management, for subjecting them to this.

          (Or: failed attempt at humour upthread, I wasn’t actually suggesting this sort of event is in any way, shape or form a good idea!)

            1. boo bot

              Yeah, I got it! Although, I can see this being the actual way these things work:

              (1) Team lip-syncing is announced!
              (2) Employees bond over shared hatred of management for subjecting them to team lip syncing.
              (3) Managers say, “Look how bonded they are! We succeeded! Next year we’ll add a fire-walk!”

              … and the vicious cycle goes for another round…

      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

        Nah, that sounds an awful lot like Stockholm Syndrome. Please get out, OP.

    2. OP 1

      Management released new “organizational values” earlier this year and this week is supposed to provide staff with opportunities to demonstrate them I guess. Somehow the lip sync thing is supposed to instill connecting for good or something… I suspect the organizers might have less than honorable intentions however.

      1. Old Nick, Old Scratch, Lucy

        It’s possible your employer is trying to suss out people who aren’t team players. It may be why they also want that specific spirit data points.

        1. OP 1

          I don’t think people who don’t like singing and dancing for the entire organization should be labeled as “not team players”.

          1. Michaela Westen

            Yes, but you’re not in charge. They are. And they might do exactly that. Considering the pressure and points system it sounds very plausible. And it sucks.

          2. The New Wanderer

            You are a reasonable person who probably would never suggest this as a team building activity. Given that your management is making people do this and other summer camp-style activities, and you don’t actually work for a summer camp, ‘reasonable’ is no longer in play.

        2. Michaela Westen

          Oh God, they want a company full of cheerleaders. And once they get rid of the grumpy or quiet ones who were doing the accounting, analysis, tech support and logistics, they’ll have one – and then a fast downward spiral. :p

      2. Myrin

        Aha! What exactly do you mean by “less than honorable intentions”? Is there any shady business going on?

        1. OP 1

          The “culture committee” is made up of a select few. While I’m sure part of this lip sync deal is to encourage teamwork, I imagine the committee is also looking forward to watching both friend and for putting on a song and dance.

          1. Michaela Westen

            So they can praise their friends and diss their foes? Like a mean girls culture? Yuck.

  9. Sam

    I do wonder about the broader question around technological literacy – I have at least one coworker who takes a few minutes to write out a three-sentence email, and struggles with things like, say, printing a web page. How much should a person be expected to provide support for that sort of thing for a coworker, when it’s not part of anyone’s job description – just assumed background knowledge?

    1. valentine

      Is the email about the tech or the composition?

      If the issues aren’t things you can show them or provide a step-by-step they can follow, it’s beyond you and something for your manager to sort.

    2. Asenath

      I do a certain amount of helping in response to “I can’t get Word (or Outlook etc) to do X” help, partly because our IT’s job is installing computers and keeping them working (which I really do appreciate) and not so much explaining how the applications we use work, except for one or two specialized ones. I don’t mind helping if I can – but it doesn’t happen often, maybe a few times a year, and it makes for goodwill if I want a favour sometime! If such requests were so frequent as to interfere with my own work, I’d have to decline to help.

      1. Chinookwind

        That is my thought too. At my last job, I became known throughout the company as the one to talk to when someone wanted to do “X” on a company specific program or with anything Microsoft. The advantage to me was job security as a temp (IT offered to hire me for their help desk if I was ever let go due to the number of calls I was able to keep from them and answer without an eye roll) and contacts through out the company. When I, a lowly admin assistant, can have a friendly conversation with the CEO because I showed him the shortcut on the new program, it can only mean good things.

        At the moment, I work for people who were not hired for their computer skills. My one boss was a trucker and was never shown how to use any computer program. He does well but his eyes were open when I showed him a few short cuts that cut his key strokes big time, created automated reminders and even made information easier to find. They were basics for me but, because he never had someone he could ask without begin teased, he never did. And, because I am once again getting known throughout the company for this type of thing, I am getting recommended for other side projects that will keep my employed if my departments ever get shut down.

        1. TardyTardis

          Yes, I love Stupid Human Excel Tricks–I was able to show a quicker way to sum up a total to someone who had been frustrated for years over it, and it made me feel warm all over.

    3. Washi

      This is part of why I’m leaving my current job – I didn’t sign up to be the IT lady for my entire department. There’s a certain amount of helping that is being a good team member, but in my experience, managers don’t always understand or feel sympathetic towards how draining and annoying it is to be constantly helping with computer stuff, especially if the coworkers start feeling entitled to your help.

      If your coworker only needs to be shown something once or twice in order to get it, then I think it’s reasonable to help him. But if he, like some of my coworkers, is the type of person who feels that he doesn’t need to bother trying to become independent because someone will always be around to help him…set a lot of boundaries. Because it will never be over.

      1. NicoleK

        Yes to this. And it’s worse when the manager continues to prop up the incompetent coworker.

      2. Chinookwind

        As much as I enjoy doing the helping side, I can also appreciate that not everyone is cut out for it. In which case, being able to shuffle it off to someone the first time is the better move for everyone involved.

    4. Kimmybear

      Can you show them the Microsoft how to pages or LinkedIn Learning videos? Show them how to find the information themselves.

      This is something that is actually part of my job description but we encounter issues where management assumes that just because someone is of a particular demographic group, that they are technologically literate. It helps to spell out the specific tasks that someone needs to be able to do and provide resources (even free online ones) for those skills. Entering data in an Excel spreadsheet is different than creating pivot tables and writing formulas in Excel.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I wish more people would do that in job posts. Just saying “Excel, Word, Outlook” etc. isn’t good enough. WHAT do you want me to do in Excel? It matters because there are things I cannot do.

        1. TardyTardis

          I know what you mean, I hear this word ‘pivot’ but alas, I do not know what it’s all about…

  10. Maya Elena

    A quibble with the typing study: they didn’t use WPM or appear to assess accuracy. I know that with my self-taught typing, my typos harm my overall speed.

    This just based on the Fast Company article. The link to the original study didn’t go to the abstract – just the university page.

    1. LQ

      I think a lot of typing speed tests are pretty flawed. Are you talking typing speed of copying something? Read and type? I mean that’s fine and I did that job for a while and in that job that kind of speed and exactness to what was on the page was critical. But now I’m typing out of my head and it’s always littered with spelling errors which are counted as typos even though I would have spelled it wrong if I were handwriting it too.

      Which all comes back to is the person meeting the goals they need to? If they are…let them keep at it and help them improve in other areas, and worry about the people not meeting goals, weather they touch type or not.

    2. gecko

      Found the study, following with link. The study measured speed in wpm. Participants were allowed to correct errors, to make the study represent everyday use, so the study also assessed an uncorrected error rate–there wasn’t a difference in accuracy when transcribing sensical language (there was a slight but statistically significant difference when participants were typing random strings).

      The only thing is, the main distinction was between touch typists and non-touch typists–the study doesn’t really isolate hunt-and-peck typists from the rest of the non-touch pack to draw conclusions about them. And there was a wide enough range in speed, from about 30 wpm to 70 wpm, that it’s not clear to me where hunt-and-peck typists fall on the scale. But overall the study does show very strongly that there’s not much of a difference between everyday touch typists and everyday non-touch typists.

  11. KB

    For the lip sync battle… since your other teammates are into it, ask them if you can be the spinderella DJ in the background. Just need sunglasses and headphones and pretend to spin/scratch a record…better than lip syncing.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear

      Seriously good idea if you believe it’s wise to suck it up and participate.

    2. OP 1

      KB that’s a decent idea if I decide to stick it out. My main concern is that I hate being on display so to speak. I was never comfortable being the center of attention and the thought of doing anything non work related in front of a hundred coworkers bothers me.

    3. Mrs_helm

      I was going to suggest something similar. Many “group” songs have a role that can be for someone who doesn’t dance or sing. Examples: be the “get a job” bass guy in “Get a Job” by The Silhouettes. Or “Tin roof rusted” in Love Shack. Or pull the comedic stunt recently on AGT – Choose “Tequila” as your group lipsync song.

  12. Drew

    OP #1, definitely have a bout of food poisoning or sudden-onset fever that mysteriously clears up over the weekend. Bosses who enforce “fun” on their employees will never ever EVER understand why those employees loathe these events, and if you try to raise the issue you’ll just hurt your own political capital.

    1. Grey Coder

      I would give myself actual food poisoning to get out of this (assuming I could guarantee it was the 24-hour, no long term effects kind).

    2. Bunny Girl

      Yup. I would be calling out of this one. It’s also allergy season. That’s a valid excuse. Or sometimes I swear if you dread something enough you can make yourself sick. I really, really didn’t want to go to our Christmas party last year and magically the day before I got some weird super virus and a 102.8 degree fever and was out of the Christmas party. Oh darn. I don’t know how I got it but I’m hoping to have it again this year.

    3. Another Forking Heather

      I worked for a place that had a Christmas party for our volunteers. One year, the organizing committee decided that each department would do some sort of performance. Some did a dance, some did a little skit. My team, the employment assistance department, decided on a lip sync to various songs that were related to employment. I have a huge phobia of being on stage. On top of that, most of the songs my team chose were in French (I live in Quebec), and I didn’t know them at all. I begged them not to make me do it, and they kept trying to get me to participate. They cajoled and wheedled and said “it’ll be fun, you’ll see!” even though I kept explaining that this was the complete opposite of fun for me.

      That night, when everyone was trying to convince me to go on, I had a (legit) anxiety attack and burst into tears right before our performance. I had to go to the bathroom and ugly cry.

      It was not my proudest moment, but my colleagues finally understood that I wasn’t resisting because I didn’t WANT to go on stage. And I never had to do another performance again.

        1. Mr. Shark

          Just say no if it comes down to it. I wouldn’t want to do it, but I would probably take the least focused person on the stage–like they mentioned, the DJ in the background.

  13. Glengarry

    OP #5 – yes, it absolutely can be a red flag. I would strongly urge you follow Allison’s advice and try to find out everything you can about why previous employees left this particular role.

    It is, of course, very possible that there are genuine reasons for this turnover that don’t reflect on the company at all, but you really, really need to establish whether this is the case or not.

    I feel particularly strongly about this, because I ignored my gut instinct and accepted my current position, even knowing that it had an extremely high turnover. Prior to accepting the position I talked with a number of people associated with the company in some way who all convinced me to not worry about the turnover and concentrate on what a great role it is.

    I regret listening to their advice every single day, as I am currently struggling to extricate myself from the most toxic work environment I have ever encountered.

    1. I coulda been a lawyer

      This is terrible for you, and is of course a real possible outcome for OP. But it could also be a different type of incompetence and the poster doesn’t realize that the lone teapot designer in the Acme office has different responsibilities, shifts, and work locations than the members of the teapot design team in Greenwich Village or the teapot design artisans divisions in Harlem, Yonkers, and the Bronx, so they keep using the job description they used last time. I’ve had the joy of explaining HRs incompetence during a few interviews while trying not to call them idiots. I mean really? You asked for a position description and I gave you one. But you used the Acme description and working address even though I need someone in Yonkers with supervisory experience to Work rotating shifts and holidays. Sigh.

      1. Old Nick, Old Scratch, Lucy

        Yes. All of this. It’s like the employer doesn’t realize people actually have lives they need to live.

      2. Acm

        That is possible, but it’s much harder to get out of a job than in. Unless it’s not the same job at all, as in an HR job description mistake, I wouldn’t work there no matter what they say in the internet. One instance of quick turnover, shame on you. twice…

        1. Acm

          That is possible, but it’s much harder to get out of a job than in. Unless it’s not the same job at all, as in an HR job description mistake, I wouldn’t work there no matter what they say in the interview. One instance of quick turnover, shame on you. twice…

          1. Acm

            Sorry, much harder to get out of a job than to just avoid getting into an iffy situation in the first place. not always foreseeable, but…

            1. Sigfried

              Hi all. OP #5 here. Today, I read the job posting again, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. My gut feeling is that this isn’t a case of HR/recruitment simply messing up on a job opening. Rather, this is the real deal. Yes, the same job has been advertised 3 times. The way the advert is written in far too specific in regards to its language to the local area.

              I have decided to put my resume but if I do get a call back/interview, I will definitely be following Alisons advice and really be questions as to why this position has had such a high turn over.

              1. Glengarry

                Good plan. I posted in reply to “I coulda been a lawyer” but it somehow didn’t nest properly. Basically said:

                ” It also could be completely innocent – e.g. Employee #1 retired, Employee #2 relocated because their partner has a great opportunity in another state, and Employee #3 had to stop working to be the primary caregiver for an elderly relative, or whatever. Although quite unusual, it’s not entirely out of the realms of possibility.”

                So hopefully for you it just turns out to be something along those lines. I’m sure you know this already but if you do get the opportunity to ask the about the turnover, be really wary of answers such as “yeah, we had to fire the last few employees in that role because they were so incompetent” (horrible management style or awful recruiting skills) or “yeah, the last few employees just didn’t turn up for their shift one day and we never heard from them again” (the job was so awful they ran screaming for the hills). Definite warning signs!

              2. WS

                Yeah, my workplace had high turnover in one position because the first staff member got pregnant and we hired someone to cover her maternity leave, then that staff member also got pregnant, then the THIRD new staff member got pregnant and just as we were hiring someone to cover that maternity leave, the first staff member had her baby and moved away to be closer to family, so we could advertise it as a regular position. It’s rare but it happens!

                1. irene adler

                  And when they ask, this would be something you’ll readily share with the job applicants.
                  (interesting situation you had there!)

                  I applied to a job and something about the response to ” what did the prior person do that you especially liked and wish to see continue?” raised a big red flag. The response was “Can’t answer that. The prior employee left after just a few months.” And they did not give any explanation for this employee’s departure.

                  I passed on the job offer. Then saw this job re-advertised every 4-6 months thereafter (including via recruiters). It is a small company- less than 10 people. So they are not filling multiple positions. Just the one position.
                  Dodged a bullet.

                2. Elizabeth West

                  @irene adler

                  I see this constant reposting all the time in my city. Most of the jobs here are with smaller businesses, where the only way to improve your situation is to leave. I figure the manager sucks, the pay sucks, or the benefits suck. Maybe all three. Or they’re doing what a commenter here once called “waiting for Jesus.”

              3. Bagpuss

                I think how they respond when you ask about it will tell you a lot – if they either claim to hae had to fire people, or get defensive, or suggest that people have let them down – all bad signs.

                But there are genuine reasons.

                We have one post where we are now on the 6th person to hold the role in just over 2 years – but there isn’t anything untoward going on:
                the changes were:

                Original holder of tre post – promoted internally, still working for us
                Person 2 – moved away due to their spouse getting a job with a 6-figure salary which involved them moving to another country
                Person 3 – left as they were selected to go professional in their chosen sport
                Person 4 – promoted internally and still working for us
                Person 5 – left to go to university, which we encouraged them to do as (and will probably be returning as a temp during vacations)

                Last time we advertised we (when #4 left) we did put in the ad. that the job was available due to internal promotation as we were concerend that if applicants saw that previus ads they might be concerned.
                This last time we didn’t actually avertise because #5 recommended someone who we have taken on ,

              4. Yvette

                Please let us know!! Several posters have given plausible, non problematic reasons. Retail does tend to have a high turnover, not everyone is cut out for it. Perhaps even if people left because the job was difficult, it may be that it was just too difficult for them. Maybe the last few people did not have retail experience but both parties were willing to take a chance. Can you go to the store as a customer and get feel for the environment?

              5. Michaela Westen

                I would be extremely cautious. In fact, I wouldn’t apply.
                Employers can and do lie about reasons for turnover. If you can independently confirm the turnover is for good reason by getting the info from someone other than the employer or anyone who works there, then maybe. If you can verify it from at least three independent sources.
                There are other jobs. There’s no need to take a chance on a high-turnover job that’s in a notoriously demanding industry.

                1. That Girl From Quinn's House

                  The last disastrous job I took, I asked, “Why is the previous person leaving this job?” and was told, “Oh well, we had a few front line staff people helping us with managerial stuff over the years, but we’ve never had a dedicated director role, this is a new position we’re creating.”

                  In reality, there had been a previous person in the job, and he left because the hiring manager had bullied and harassed him out of his job.

                2. Working Mom Having It All

                  Employers do lie, but you can tell a lot from how the answer the question.

                  I got my current job (where I’ve been for over a year) after the previous hire didn’t work out and was let go. It was clear that there were specific concerns in my employer’s hiring process that the new person in the role absolutely needed to be able to handle the thing that had slipped through the cracks with the previous hire, without any reservations whatsoever. I was asked multiple questions by everyone I interviewed with about my abilities in that area, with one or two people openly volunteering that the previous person had trouble with it and it led to her being shown the door.

                  I’m currently interviewing elsewhere (not because this job is bad by any means, an opportunity just dropped into my lap), and that team also was very transparent about how this position came to be open before I was even able to ask. Including having me meet with the person currently in the job, who made it clear what her situation was directly to me.

                  If nobody volunteers any information whatsoever, you find yourself having to ask, and you get an answer that is terse or evasive (“they found other opportunities elsewhere”, “it didn’t work out”, etc) then, yeah, that’s a red flag on a red flag.

                  But assuming it was a position I was otherwise interested in, I would apply and at least give them the opportunity to explain.

                3. A Reader

                  I am with those who say to apply. It’s possible the other people in this position weren’t good for the job – it happens. Hiring managers can stink at hiring, and maybe they just didn’t get a good feel for the applicants. It’s also possible people leave for completely plausible reasons, as noted above.

                  In my last job search, I applied to a job and asked if it was a new role, if they were expanding the role through hiring more people, or if it was a replacement. The interviewers all snickered and said “Oh, it’s a replacement, all right,” and made a few other comments that the person currently in the role was getting fired. I felt so uncomfortable! In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t get that role.

              6. MoopySwarpet

                I think it could definitely be a sign of dysfunction. However, if you are in a smaller area, it could also be that they have hired 2-3 people who were not a fit for the role, but were better than the rest of the applicant pool and they need somebody right now.

                I could see how in smaller towns and rural areas, there might be a shortage of truly qualified candidates so they take a chance on an iffy candidate who bluffed their way through the interview, but turned out to not be as fast of a learner as they claimed. Rinse, repeat.

              7. NotAnotherManager!

                This may not be the case here, but we have posted the same job 3-5 times this year because the team’s work has exploded. They went from 6 to 10 and now we are looking to move them to 12 so people aren’t working every waking hour, 7 day/week. One is a replacement for someone going to grad school, but most positions have been expansion hires.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I always make a point of asking why the position is open. The answer can tell me a lot, especially if we’re talking face-to-face and I can observe their non-verbal reactions to the question. What they don’t say can be as important as what they do say.

      1. Midwest writer

        I always do, too. And because I am usually applying for writer jobs, I am often able to see how long my predecessors have been at a publication, at least if there’s an online presence. One job a few years ago had quite a bit of turnover and some really negative comments on Glassdoor. (The only job I’ve ever applied to that had a Glassdoor presence, actually.) When I asked about the turnover and comments, the interviewers said something about people not wanting to work hard enough, not enough commitment to the job, or something SUPER red flaggy along those lines (it’s been five years, so details have faded a bit). I couldn’t run away fast enough from that job offer.
        My last job, the reporter/editor had been fired. I asked the interviewer why, he gave a plausible explanation, I took the job and it turned out to be fine. I’ve found most interviewers ready to give some kind of answer, and like you said, you can read between the lines, too.

    3. a1

      Is it high turnover or do they need more than 1 manager? It’s retail, and every retail job I’ve had the store is open 7 days a week, more than 8 hours day (open 10am-9pm Mon-Sat, and 11am-6pm Sun). You need more than 1 manager for full coverage. It’s usually been 2 with a couple of assistant managers. Granted, it can still be not a good sign if all management positions needed filling in short order. So maybe not much of a distinction. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    4. Sleepytime Tea

      I had a friend who took a job that was totally evil. Everything about the place was a nightmare. Honestly when we (my friend group) looked at the job description we should have seen red flags, because it was one of those ones that emphasizes how much you need to be perky and happy, how you need to be willing to do anything at any time, basically “we expect you to be a slave” kind of thing.

      She really tried to stick it out, but quit within a few months. Every 4-6 months we see that job posted again and laugh about it, because we know why. It’s horrible and no one would ever stay there unless they were a masochist.

      Don’t ignore the red flag! There’s a small chance that they’ve just been hit by unfortunate circumstances and the people in the job have had to leave for things unrelated to them being a terrible employer, but chances are that’s not the case and they just can’t keep anyone because the job is horrific.

    5. Gollum wants his precious

      Seconded. In March ‘17, I left a job that started great but went way downhill, and felt like one of the last rats left on the ship (I was days shy of four years, and was third in seniority out of 25 when I left). I’d been given a lot of leeway to morph my role since I’d taken on a lot more responsibility (started under the comptroller, eventually became a one-person accounting department for a mid-sized CU)

      My replacement left after a year, then someone left after 9 months, and last month they hired a third replacement. I still keep in touch with others who left, and it’s still the same shitshow it was when I left.

  14. Doctor Schmoctor

    #1 This just makes me angry. This is the sort of thing that will make me look for a new job. Tell your boss that forcing you to do something you hate is not going to make you a better “team player”.
    You shouldn’t have to come up with an excuse. Just tell them

    1. OP 1

      The “team player” aspect is exactly what bothers me about these types of things. I am competent at working with others to accomplish the mission but my not wanting to do potlucks and team outings has always hindered my reputation as a “team player”.

      1. Auntie Social

        How dare you not want to make pans of your triple chocolate brownies?? You know, for the team!!

  15. Ico

    That’s not really what that typing study says based on the article. They are comparing self-taught typists using, on average, six fingers to typists using a formal method and nine or ten. Six is still a lot more than the employee-in-question’s two.

    The article notes that two-finger typing was apparently faster than the researchers expected, but was still slower.

    1. Rainy

      Most of the coders I knew back in the 90s typed with 2-4 fingers and were fast and competent at their job.

      I touch type, personally, but as long as someone is comfortable and doing fine, I’m not sure why it’s my business how many fingers someone uses to type.

      1. Auntie Social

        That’s it. They got hired with their typing skills, whether it’s with 2 fingers or 10.

  16. Kathlynn (Canada)

    This reminds me of my last job. I count by 10s have for as long as I remember. It was how I was taught to count money as a very young child. I can pick up 5 of each coin with no problem. And I’m fast at counting. But my last job tried to insist that I change how I count, because they decided I’d be faster. Honestly, never gave it a try (as they were giving me half the time everyone else got to count their till), and with the way my brain works with number (occasionally jumping from one number to an unrelated number like 56 to 28 or 28 to 32), counting my way is more accurate for me. Especially if I lose track or have to stop counting to help someone else with something. Just pick up the money I haven’t counted and off I go. and I only have to double count one-2 rows if somethings off. Also made counting large amounts of items by groups (Like lotto is in groups of 2, 4, or 10, and it’s much faster to count the tickets as a group then count them individually like most of my coworkers need to)

    I also can’t touch type. I do use 4-5 fingers, but my hands generally migrate across the board if I can’t see them. I don’t need to be looking directly at the keyboard to type, just need to have it at the edge of my vision, if I don’t my hands wander (I recently got a new keyboard where the keys are at a different height, but it’s also much longer then most keyboards I’ve used in the past. Which is a big negative since I have tiny hands (usually each finger is 1cm-1 inch shorter then most people). I will also use my fingers to hit the wrong buttons according to the home-row method. (like my left index finger usually hits Y not my right index finger.) But I also have this issue with other movements. Partly because of my glasses (like with those mirrors that say “things may appear closer then they are” my brain will incorrectly adjust/predict where an object will be once it leaves the field of my glasses. ), partly just who I am, as I also drift when dancing or moving, and don’t catch it, even when trying to stay in one spot.

    1. Llellayena

      I had a manager (drugstore chain retail) who tried to insist that I had to use the small number keyboard to the right instead of the line of number keys across the top to input pricing. She said I’d be more accurate. I tried to tell her “it’s not going to be more accurate if I’m just learning how to use it rather than the way I’ve been using since I learned to type!” She never got it, shortest job I’ve ever held, that wasn’t the only issue with that manager…

  17. SatsumaWolf

    In the uk, we’re not typically taught to touch type. The only person I know who can touch type is my retired mother. My entire department in my uk office of a large mutinational company consists of people who don’t touch type yet we’re all able to be productive, functional employees.
    I’ve tried to learn to touch type a few times from my mother. I know the technique it’s now just a matter of muscle memory but the period of time I would be 10 times slower at typing than I am now is too long to make it worth the slight increase in speed this may result in.
    All this to say, if the employee is doing acceptable work, leave how he types out of it. He may naver have learned and you could damage his productivity, not increase it.

    1. Lucy

      +1

      but my 8yo is being taught to touch type at school in the UK. I think it likely he will settle on a “most fingers approximately on correct keys, but not quite proper placement, and not looking, fast” method like his parents.

    2. Ariaflame

      I was taught to type in Scotland in 1986, in high school, admittedly it was part of a course called secretarial studies but I doubt keyboard skills are less valued

      1. Media Monkey

        but you had to opt in to take secretarial studies. most people didn’t (source: am from scotland)

    3. londonedit

      I’m 37 and never really had any proper IT lessons in school. We had one ancient BBC computer in primary school, and in secondary we had one computer room with about 30 computers in it, for 1200 students to share. The norm at my school was to do 9 GCSE subjects, or 10 if you were considered up to it. Those of us who did 10 subjects had to do an extra lesson after school on a Wednesday, and there was no space in the timetable for IT lessons for us. We were told we’d make up the time with intensive IT days a couple of times a year, but that never happened, so I’m totally self-taught! I can type quickly and fairly accurately, and I don’t have to look at the keyboard when I’m typing, but I use a completely random set of fingers to type and my style would never be described as proper touch-typing. Still, it gets the job done, and no one has ever had a problem with my typing style (or even noticed it!)

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        From your age it looks like you’d have been in the same year group as me at school, or possibly one year different depending on your birthday (fellow Brit here), and that sounds pretty much like my experience although I think our computer room was smaller than that with fewer computers despite having a comparable number of students. We did a little more at sixth form but I wouldn’t say I got a lot of IT teaching and ended up teaching myself a lot on my grandad’s computer.

        I don’t think anyone has ever taken any notice of my typing style, and by the same token I doubt I would notice anyone else’s. But if it’s what works for them, and there’s not a reason it has to change (which it doesn’t sound like there is for that employee) I say let it go.

    4. Rainy

      I took keyboarding in high school (name change to appeal to boys, but still on an IBM selectric) but what really did it for me is that I found my dad’s old touchtyping instruction course–a giant board book type thing that sat up on its own tripod support that folded out of the cover–the year I was 8 or 9, and I spent the summer learning to touch type when I wasn’t reading obsessively.

      I really think the age is helpful if you actually want people to be able to reliably touch-type. Adulthood is too late.

      1. Autumnheart

        I have a funny anecdote related to this. I went to college in the early ‘90s, when the Internet as a social medium was just beginning to pick up steam, and tons of us spent way too much time on an Internet chat board based at a university (basically the Facebook of its time). There was a computer lab in our dorm that closed at midnight, but a few of us learned how to game the door latch so that we could sneak back in after it “closed”. Of course we didn’t want to get busted by the RAs, so we kept the lights off. So I learned how to touch-type because I was literally doing it in the dark! It’s not home row, though, but advanced hunt-and-peck with 4-5 fingers and thumbs. But I average between 70-90wpm, so that’s good enough.

        I will say, though, that these days I have a pretty wide variation in the keyboards that I use. My home laptop is a PC, my work laptop is a MacBook, and I have an iPad and an Android phone, and all the keyboards vary enough with key placement that it slows me way down. Muscle memory is useless because what’s correct on one keyboard is a typo on another.

        1. Mr. Shark

          Ah, yes, those were the days. We spent a lot of late nights on the bulletin boards. They would link up occasionally to other universities around the world (you never knew when it would happen) and you could chat with people from Europe. But most of the time it was either chat or bulletin boards on different subjects.

  18. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

    I work in an office where everyone works slightly different schedules, and I’ve found it helps if everyone just posts their hours near/on their desk. Not everyone where I work does this, but I do and I find it helpful when other people do, because it lets me better guess if so-and-so is likely to be around soon.

    If your co-worker is for some reason having genuine trouble retaining a memory of your schedule, having your hours posted may help, and if it’s instead an attempt at commentary on your work hours having it publicly posted will at least make it clear you are not trying to “sneak in late” by making it clear that it’s something completely aboveboard and not something you’re attempting to “get away with” or any similar framing. If she just doesn’t like your schedule and will keep bringing it up to prove a point after that, well, people who’ve both been told something out loud repeatedly, and are choosing to also ignore a sign with that information in favor of asking people about it again generally aren’t doing themselves any favors.

    1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

      There is no way on earth that she’s having trouble remembering the schedule.

      1. Sled dog mama

        It’s possible that she is, I have a coworker who works a Sunday-Thursday schedule (does all our maintenance and testing). I swear every Friday I have the same conversation with a different coworker. She pages him for a phone call and I call her, “it’s Friday he’s not here”
        “I never know which Fridays he’s off”
        “Every Friday he’s off every Friday “. It’s been this way for 2.5 years

        1. AnotherAlison

          Some positions at my company are allowed to work 4-10s. I’ve been working with some of these people for 5 years, and it’s not that I forget they are off Fridays, but I still need the same support 5 days a week. One guy opens timesheet charge codes as one of his duties, and inevitably, I need new codes open on Fridays. I will start to send him a request, and then I remember he’s not there.

        2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen

          Interesting that she has all week to talk to him but always “needs” to on Fridays.

          1. Jules the 3rd

            She’s paging him for a phone call – she probably does talk to him all week too.

            From inside my own head, I’d guess it’s more like people don’t remember ‘today is Friday’ and that drives different availability. I know I think of all work days as similar, with the main variation being the number of meetings.

      2. Lynca

        I have trouble remembering people’s scheduled off days, whether they’re working on site or remotely, and start times. It’s one of my big ADHD issues at work.

        I second having people’s schedules posted somewhere. We have a sign in sheet (as part of our fire safety plan) that has everyone’s hours/off-days/on-site or off-site information/whether they’ve called in on it. So I’ve trained myself to look at that first before asking any questions about where someone is.

        1. EPLawyer

          but she does it when she goes to lunch too. This is not can’t remember the schedule. This is something else bothering the co-worker and using the can’t remember the schedule as an excuse.

          It’s the same schedule every day. Its not a case of remembering whether she has Tuesday off this week and Wednesday next. It’s this person comes in literally 1 hour after her. Every. Single. Day.

      3. Samwise

        Sure it is. It’s not her own schedule. I mean, I can’t remember my own husband’s schedule during the school year — it changes every semester, but it’s the same for the entire semester. And I need to know his schedule, it just does not stick. Drives him crazy if I ask, hey honey, when are you teaching tomorrow? Hence, I use a sticky on my desk and on the back of my phone. Marital harmony ensured.

      4. Carlie

        Exactly. She hates that LW gets to come in late and is trying to get other people upset by it too. “Oh RIGHT, I forgot that she always comes in LATER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. Isn’t that weird? I mean, how do they let her DO that?”
        It probably won’t stop unless her manager makes her or if everyone else always gives her the cold shoulder when she starts up.

        1. valentine

          she always comes in LATER THAN EVERYONE ELSE.
          But does she wish she could stay until 6:00 or does she want OP4 to be miserable with her at 8:00?

      5. Autumnheart

        Even if she *were* having trouble, that would be easily solved if she were to create a reminder for herself. A post-it on her monitor, a calendar notification, whatever. There’s no reason she needs to ask the same question every single day.

      6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

        I’ve found that I am happier if I take the one extra “obvious step” that might help if something is an actual issue before I shrug and decide the other person is just being difficult. Sometimes, it solves the actual problem because the person was genuinely struggling and the extra reminder/sign/warning light/whatever makes a difference. Often, it does not solve the problem, but it does make the other person look more ridiculous for still having the problem, so I count that as a partial win as well since I have at least made it as clear as possible which of us is being difficult here.

    2. Grey Coder

      Agree with posting hours, but if that doesn’t work…

      OP4, can you enlist the help of your colleagues who are being bothered by the co-worker? If they tell you each time it happens, then you can approach the co-worker and say “Hey, I heard you were asking for me before my working hours/when I was at lunch. How can I help?”

      If the response is “oh, I was just wondering where you were”, you can say “My hours are still X to Y, and I have lunch at Z. Drop me an email if you need something from me outside those times.” Ideally say exactly the same words every time. Maybe precede it with an awkward pause.

      If there’s an actual reason, you can say “Sure, I’ll get right on that. By the way, my hours are still X to Y …”

    3. LQ

      This may sound silly but this coworker may be making small talk. It’s not particularly interesting small talk, but that’s not the point of small talk. I agree that the posted schedule may help, but if it is all the time and casual…it may just be this coworkers version of the weather, but with the bonus of making someone else say words rather than “mmhm” when they say, “Sure looks like rain today.”

      1. Workin' 9:30-6

        OP4 again–in my more charitable moments I actually think this is what’s going on, but there are other people with less predictable schedules than mine, and she doesn’t ask about them.

        1. LQ

          If I were to do this I would ask about the least annoying person so I sounded pleasant. I know of one person whose schedule I will never ask about because the words from my face will sound annoyed because I’m annoyed with the work he’s (not) doing, but it would sound like annoyance with schedule. (If you want to let it go, this is definitely the thing to lean on IMO, eh, it’s just someone who is trying to make small talk. Clearly no one else is confused by how much you work or is your work getting done so.)

    4. Dust Bunny

      My coworkers and I have slightly offset schedules. We just have a calendar in the break area where we put our initials on days we’re not going to be in. Betty comes in about an hour and a half after I do but if it doesn’t say “B” on that day, I can assume she’ll be there. When we ask for time off our supervisor will come tell us it’s approved and remind us to write it on the calendar . It’s quite possibly the lowest-tech thing ever but it works just fine.

  19. Glengarry

    Oh, I absolutely agree with you. It also could be completely innocent – e.g. Employee #1 retired, Employee #2 relocated because their partner has a great opportunity in another state, and Employee #3 had to stop working to be the primary caregiver for an elderly relative, or whatever. Although quite unusual, it’s not entirely out of the realms of possibility.

    And I really feel you about having to explain away HR incompetence without coming right out and saying “yeah, sorry about that – sometimes they don’t know their bum from their elbow”. I haven’t quite mastered being completely diplomatic in these situations – a sideways eye roll and/or exasperated sigh always seems to slip out, unfortunately.

    1. Glengarry

      Whoops – don’t know how this happened, but was supposed to be a reply to “I coulda been a lawyer”‘s reply to me.

  20. Ruth (UK)

    I am a 5-finger Tyler (4 plus my thumb for the space bar). I originally learned formal touch typing but never really found it comfortable. I am in an administrative job and have also done various typing speed tests. I generally type at a speed that would be good even if I was touch typing (I can’t remember the specific words per min).

    On my phone, as now, I am typing with two fingers: just my thumbs. It’s still pretty fast. I don’t find it hard to believe that two finger typing could also be almost as fast as touch typing – it depends who’s doing it.

    I guess if typing speed affects work productivity in a job, the actual speed matters more than the typing method.

    So 1. Is fast typing speed a necessary part of the job and 2. Is the typing speed of the employee too slow for the job (regardless of whether it’s 2 finger or touch typing). If yes to both, THEN I think you can ask that they find a way to improve it (which may or may not be by learning to formally touch type).

    1. Ruth (UK)

      Ps. Regardless of the speed of typing with thumbs, I am still caught out by autocorrect especially as it’s a small screen. I’m a 5 finger typer, not a Tyler …

    2. Star

      I’m a fast thumb typer on my phone as well, enough so I can participate in live chats that move pretty quickly. Not quite as fast as I am on a normal keyboard but fairly close. The biggest problem I have is a lot of commenting systems lag enough I have to intentionally slow down (which is too annoying, so I just draft comments in google docs then copy and paste in the system). But man, do my thumbs hurt after a bit. Not sure if it’s pressure or the fact my phone runs hot but it’s annoying.

    3. Lucy

      My fastest “typing” is one thumb on my smartphone using Swype. Friends scream at me when we’re on messaging apps because my messages come through as fast as if we’re actually talking :D

      1. Birch

        Oooh same. I often forget that other people don’t use swype but then I’m baffled when they’re responding just as quickly. Don’t their thumbs hurt?! Though for long messages I do prefer a keyboard because I do touch-type and I find phone prediction (or maybe just mine?) is terrible.

      2. Star

        Huh, I never noticed that in settings before. I owe a fair amount to predictive texts but now I absolutely have to check Swype out.

        1. Lucy

          It takes a while for the system to learn you, but it’s lightning-fast once you’re up and running.

  21. Star

    I’m pretty sure GRRM types this way. Granted, it does take him a long time to write books, but I don’t think that’s about typing speed.

  22. Approval is optional

    OP4: I would ignore your coworker unless she says something directly to you OP. If your schedule impacts on her work, she can be an adult and bring it up with you and/or your manager.
    If you do say something, I’d suggest you leave off the part of AAM’s script where you ask your coworker if she had any concerns about your schedule. I think that will give her the message that third party PA sniping gets results with you (plus there’s a non-zero chance it will give her the idea that if she has concerns, changes will be made).
    And don’t feel you have any responsibility to stop her annoying your coworkers – that’s on her.

    1. Auntie Social

      She could refer her back to her boss–“I come in at 9 because I’m here until close. Check with Dave if you have questions. But please stop asking if I am coming in today, because I’m here every day–I close. I just have different hours than your team, but that doesn’t mean I’m not at work.” This person won’t have the courage to check with Dave, BTW.

    2. Cat Fan

      This is what I’m thinking. If I were the co-worker being asked everyday where someone is, I would finally say, “Are you kidding? Everyday you ask and everyday I tell you she comes in at 9.”. There’s no way that I, as the person being looked for, would open up a conversation asking her if she has some kind of problem with my work or my schedule. She can learn to use her words if it there is an issue.

  23. CastIrony

    Oddly, I feel bad for OP 4’s coworker, but I’m just self-projecting because I keep checking the head people’s schedule to see if the cook I love working with will be there today vs. the one that scares me. I wonder if that’s what the co-worker is going through. It doesn’t help when the cook I like leaves suddenly for the day because it means that the cook I’m scared of could be told to work in his place!

    Maybe something like this is going on, but it’s unlikely.

  24. CouldntPickAUsername

    oh lord number 1. why is the concept of “I come to work, am polite to my coworkers, do my job and go home” so offensive to some people, why can’t it just be work and why do they always try to mandate fun, or therapy or “family”. Seriously forced therapy, mandatory Thai Chi, life coaching sessions, lip sync battles. Seriously. I don’t mind OPTIONAL side activities now and then but forcing people to do this crap doesn’t help anything.

    1. Lucy

      Spouse’s new company is a tech startup and they have too-frequent mandatory team building events that would honestly make me sick with anxiety. Enforced fun with dressing up and props is so far outside my concept of professional conduct that I just can’t get into the mindset. Spouse likes it, fortunately, but I don’t really understand why the “pizza in the break room on alternate Fridays” and “hair cuts on site” aren’t sufficient. My team is solid as a rock and we do that with good communication, maybe fortnightly check-ins, and general mutual respect. Dinosaur!

      1. Lucy

        (to clarify, “hair cuts on site” is a thing where you can book in with the on-site hairdresser on set days at very reasonable prices, not where the team leader prances round with clippers and gives everyone short back and sides whether they want it or not)

    2. boop the first

      SAME. I function better when I work alone, away from customers, and thus I can be trusted to just follow my own routine. My current job, however, is a 3-employee hell hole with an overbearing, micromanaging boss, which sucks on its own but even lunch isn’t safe! He expected us to eat lunch family style, at who-knows-when because lunch hour depends on his ability to get it together, and we all have different stages of readiness. Plus, we want a BREAK, not a chance to chat about our priorities and tasks.

      One coworker started bringing his own lunch and taking his own lunchtime, and the boss complained for a long while. Then I started bringing my lunch, and boss panicked and whined to me for a LONG while. Now the whining is mostly done and we’ve moved on with it. But it’s a tough road to get through.

        1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

          Ugh. I tend to eat at my desk, but do my own thing. Working lunches annoy me. If they want me to work through lunch, I’m leaving earlier.

      1. Michaela Westen

        I worked for a woman who thought she had a right to eat lunch with her employees. And the conversation must be pleasing to her. My colleague told me she had previously included lunch in the paid daily hours so she could mandate that employees eat with her. By the time I was there this had changed because a departing employee mentioned it in their exit interview.
        I bore with as long as I could, but she was so unpleasant I had to find a way out of those lunches. What worked was staying at my desk to eat. I heard her IM popping as she messaged my colleague about me eating lunch at my desk, but luckily she never said anything.

    3. Bunny Girl

      Amen! Our work is trying to be more “social” and it’s making things even more miserable. I don’t see anything wrong with having optional side activities for those who want them, but forcing people to do that stuff doesn’t help anyone.

      1. OP 1

        It’s always the people who complain that we don’t “socialize” anymore and the “people are always on their phones” crowd that start this stuff to. Clearly forcing asocial people to interact isn’t going to build cohesion but they try nonetheless.

        1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen

          I know, right? And they’re often the same people who call their department a “family” and accuse those who prefer not to do teeeeeam building activities of being bad team players.

  25. MsSolo

    #3 – I know the US doesn’t have GDPR and the phone book nature of this means it’s unlikely anyone for whom GDPR would apply has been caught up in this, but *surely* the USA has some data protection laws that make it illegal to sign people up to things with no consent whatsoever? If this hit anyone in the EU the organisation would be fined out of existence!

    1. Rebecca

      We do have laws – Wells Fargo Bank found that out – but it still happens. I agree with one of the other posters, I believe this is embezzlement at worst, or at best, faking numbers so a grant can be issued, or something along those lines. As someone who is careful where I send my very limited charity donations, I urge the OP to report this. It’s not fair to the real donors, it’s not fair to the taxpayers whose money goes toward grants, etc.

    2. Akcipitrokulo

      … but if anyone that they put on this list is an EU citizen… it’s a risk that they could be caught by GDPR.

      1. MsSolo

        Oh that’s true – they have no way of knowing from the phone book list what anyone’s citizenship is, and that could really hurt them.

        (also, if they’re making up emails and accidentally use a real one that happens to belong to an EU citizen, “I was trying to illegally use someone else’s personal data” probably isn’t going to cover their arses either)

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

        What would happen if they did? It’s not like the EU can fine them or shut them down or anything. Is there a mechanism for the EU to enforce GDPR on foreign entities not doing business in Europe?

    3. DMK

      In addition, if people are getting automated phone calls that they didn’t actually consent to, that could be a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act – which has some pretty high statutory fines and the potential for treble damages. This could be a big financial risk for the company.

    4. Kimmybear

      My first thought was actually the Do Not Call list. In the U.S., landline phone numbers aren’t generally considered “private” since anyone can pick up a phone book. However, if someone is called even though they are on the Do Not Call list and have no prior relationship with the organization, that’s where there might be trouble.

      For GDPR, I’ve seen different interpretations about whether it applies to U.S. companies for EU citizens or EU residents. Some interpret as residents (regardless of nationality) but not EU citizens that are resident in the U.S. (or elsewhere).

      Note: I’m not a lawyer and don’t play one on TV

  26. Phil

    #2 I really don’t think touch typing is that big a deal any more. Everyone grows up with a keyboard nowadays and teach themselves to type. Usually pretty quickly.

    I’m a little older than that generation (80s kid), but there was always a computer in the house and I was typing pretty quickly Phil-style by about the age of 10. I took a business admin course after high school where they tried to force touch typing on us (I can still hear the teacher’s constant “Don’t look at your fingers!”), but I found I could type much faster my way, and it was still well above the required speed (60wpm?).

  27. Lemmy Caution

    #2 I think you should tell the big boss, the question is not how he types, but what he types.

    I remember back in the day some performance KPI was ”lines of code written”. I did point out, that I can produce 10.000 lines of pure garbage or think half a day and make a few magical tricks and make 10 lines doing the exact same 10.000 times faster. So how exactly is the 10.000 rows ”more productive”… Then I found out about the ”Peter principle” and that management doesn’t know jack about coding.

    I drifted over to platforms and a lot of my colleagues were cursing all the bloated software that never had been cleaned with half a dozen similarily named configuration files which may or may not have any effect on the deployment… so yes, the last concern is how someone types. What they type should be.

    1. Michaela Westen

      Does this explain bloated web sites, slow servers and balky programs? Arrrrgh. Every morning I click on the server in file manager and then look at AAM while it opens.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        Well… we had a few theories on it.

        ”Back in the day” when mainframes roamed the earth, your CPU time and memory cost money. So your code had to be lean and mean and you didn’t save anything redundant if you could clean up. Like spaces in a database… groans… Anyhoo, at some point the CPU and memory didn’t cost jack, and some ”beacon of intelligence” devised this kind of principle you don’t clean up your code but just comment it out and add new stuff. Which at some point ends up you have modules you call that don’t actually do anything put pass the buck to the module actually doing stuff. But then also you have no proper documantation, no proper run diagrams, no proper… and godforbid someone actually commenting their code… except finally finding */this works don’t touch/* comment among thousands of garbage lines…

        But yeah, at some point around the turn of the century you were graded as a coder on how many lines of code you made… I gave up coding and became the BOFH.

        1. Michaela Westen

          I’m so glad I decided not to go into coding! That would have driven me nuts. I would have insisted on cleaning and documenting my code and gotten in trouble.
          It explains a lot though. I’ve encountered web sites that are unusable because they take so long to load or respond. Sounds like that could be the problem.
          At some point in the future “code-cleaner” will be a new career path… or they’ll throw it out and start over with proper documentation – either way a good line of work…

          1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

            I call myself a systems janitor some days. I take the hot mess garbage proof-of-concept that some cowboy coder made that was jacked into production and clean it up. Sometimes I get to throw it back and tell them “It doesn’t work, do it over.”, but not often enough.

  28. A Lip Sync where not everyone has to perform?

    Am I the only one who thinks the lip sync is a pretty tame idea? I can see why the company chose the activity honestly: it doesn’t involve dietary requirements, doesn’t involve anything athletic, isn’t dangerous, isn’t impossible for a person disabled to complete, and doesn’t even involve any actual singing. The summer camp thing is a bit much, but it still sounds like some thought went into this. (I’d LOVE it if my company did that instead of making me feel like a wuss for not wanting to go on a zipline or climb a rock wall!) I agree it should be OPTIONAL, though! And your work performance shouldn’t be affected by a ‘fun’ activity.
    Can you speak to your boss about maybe selecting a few interested people to represent your department as the lip sync team? Instead of everyone needing to do it? And those who want to sit out can cheer them on or contribute in another way, like making the props or the costumes?

    1. Bagpuss

      I think it is less bad than other options could have been, but any kind of forced participation, particualrly where there is any elelment of performance is problematic.
      I would hate this – I would feel self conscious if I had to participate, and the contact embarassment would make me pretty unconfortable just watching,

    2. Scarlet2

      I think the fact that it’s slightly less egregious than ziplining or rock climbing still doesn’t make it remotely acceptable. Being forced to humiliate myself in this manner would really damage my morale. It’s just infantilizing.

      And a one week “camp”???? Seriously? (I also hope that week isn’t deducted from the employee’s PTO).

      Can’t people just go to work anymore?

      1. Not Alison

        Ugggh! I would hate the lip-syncing and dancing in front of collegaues and particularly having to be in costume. I hate costumes (mostly the effort of coming up with something and the cost of something I’ll only use that once). I’d much prefer to do the zip-lining or kayaking or any other fun outdoor activity.

    3. Plain Jane

      I think it assumes everyone has a base knowledge of popular music, and if someone doesn’t, it can make them feel like an outlier. Maybe they didn’t grow up in America or even an English-speaking country, or in a closed culture that shunned popular music. I worked with a woman who grew up in religious family where she only heard hymms or classical music at home, church, school or friends houses.

      1. Spencer Hastings

        I grew up in a family of classical musicians and classical music lovers, with a similar effect. :-)

        I’m willing to play my instrument in front of whatever number of people, and I’ve given presentations that I’ve prepared on topics that I’ve researched. I’m not just completely afraid of being onstage (including public speaking), is what I’m saying. But having to perform in an art form that I don’t practice, and never have, is different.

      2. Curmudgeon in Califormia

        This.

        I don’t follow pop culture. I’m a geek, a loner and I don’t watch tv or go to movies. I don’t listen to pop music, I don’t follow sports, and I don’t follow talk radio. I only listen to news & traffic while I commute.

        This type of thing would put me even farther outside the culture of a workplace, and I would resent it a lot. As in, “find a new job” resent it.

    4. annakarina1

      I would still find it embarrassing because I am not a performer, and would feel awkward having to do a performance onstage, it couldn’t just be standing still and lip-syncing the song. I know a lot of actors who would love to do it because they have performing and stage skills, but even then, it’s fun as a casual recreational thing, not a mandatory work thing.

    5. Rusty Shackelford

      Well, this is the problem – lip sync sounds tame and harmless to some people, but to other people it’s PUBLIC PERFORMANCE AND THAT’S BAD.

      1. OP 1

        This is exactly what some of my coworkers just don’t or won’t get. For some people dancing to pop songs in front of the boss is truly no big deal. For the some of us it’s hell incarnate.

    6. OP 1

      I can see why this activity may seem pretty tame on the surface. However, when you consider the fact that the planners of the activity aren’t expected to compete it’s a little infuriating. Also, having an individual decision affect your coworkers makes it more stressful. As for going to management,

      1. OP 1

        it doesn’t matter as middle managers have been assigned to cabins as well so they are less than empathetic.

    7. Steggy Saurus

      Given the percentage of people who are deathly afraid of public speaking or performance, I’m not sure they’d find this a very tame idea. I’d bet there are some (not me!) who’d much rather climb a rock wall or go ziplining than be forced to perform in front of an audience (and be recorded doing it).

      1. I sing in the shower - nowhere else

        +1 – I’m scared of heights but I’d take rock climbing/zip lining over having to lip synch with coworkers! Add in the fact that it’s being filmed to be shown to overseas offices – that would be truly horrifying as far as I’m concerned.

      2. Bagpuss

        I’d ratherdo ither of those thing 9although probably couldmn’t, physically, these days) But I wouldn’t suggest them as team builing exercises because I’m fully aware that there would be people who would feel about those typs of activity the way I feel about things like kareoke and lip-synching

    8. smoke tree

      I don’t dance, so I would hate it. I also kind of hate the idea of being forced to put on a show for the entertainment of upper management on principle. Not to mention being judged, and having it recorded. I would be okay with taking the risk of sitting this one out, personally.

      1. Steggy Saurus

        I always tell people that the amount of alcohol that would be required to get me to dance in public would be enough to make me pass out. :) I sing all the time, but dancing? Hell no.

      2. NotAnotherManager!

        ALL OF THIS. I mean, really, in the age of social media where it takes two seconds to post your goofy coworker to YouTube, I’m absolutely thinking twice about hamming it up on stage (my personal idea of hell, even without cell phone cameras) for “team points”.

        Mandatory fun is just not my thing.

    9. Working Mom Having It All

      Yeah, maybe it’s because I’m a onetime theatre dork, but office team-building exercises where you wear fun outfits and (have the opportunity to) lip sync doesn’t seem that bad to me?

      My only real problem with any of this is the “graded” idea. But even so, if it’s just to decide which team wins the event, and then the winners get pizza or something, sure, why not? Is there someone on OP’s team who is so competitive that they’ll hold a grudge against OP sitting out and not having the best possible chance to get the starbucks gift card or what have you?

      1. OP 1

        It’s not that my cabin mates will hold a grudge per se. I just don’t want my lack of participation to cause them grief with their managers. I imagine to a theatre enthusiast this activity “isn’t a big deal” but I am no theatre enthusiast. I’ve seen the term “dancing bear” in this thread and it’s an accurate way to describe how this activity makes me feel.

        1. jolene

          I’m a total exhibitionist who loves dancing, karaoke, etc etc and I would HATE this. The being judged by higher-ups, the filming – it’s all such a dodgy power play.

    10. A Lip Sync where not everyone has to perform?

      I still don’t know why they can’t select people who are INTERESTED to be the lip sync team, and have everyone else make costumes or props or even make food for the event? I understand it’s not fun for everyone to perform. And I’m not honestly into pop music, and currently live in a country where I didn’t grow up. But I’d still rather make a costume or a banner for the group than do something athletic.

  29. babblemouth

    LW1: This introvert recoiled in horror at what you’re being asked to do. You should feel no obligation to participate if this makes you uncomfortable.
    Team building isn’t team building if it’s meeting the needs of half of the team, and making the other half feel terrible.

    1. Yuan Zai

      I’m an almost ludicrously outgoing extrovert but if I worked somewhere that insisted upon doing something like this, I would no longer work there.

    2. OP 1

      I’m borderline reclusive. On top of that, my job involves talking to people all day to convince them to give us money. The added stress of a lip sync battle and team building activities doesn’t help me excel.

  30. Klingons and Cylons and Daleks, Oh My!

    OP#1…

    I must ask: What is the actual BUSINESS purpose of humiliating employees with “mandatory fun”?

    1. LGC

      Not OP1, but to answer this seriously: they’re literally not thinking it through that much. It’s a little like the Nurses’ Week letter – where the activities COULD be fun for some people (I like baking and I might participate in a bakeoff), but the presentation fell seriously flat (the entire thing was HEAVILY gendered and put most of the workload on the nurses to participate).

      Some people would love to lipsync for their lives. (Some of them do so on VH1 while wearing tons of makeup and ornate wigs.) The problem is that it’s not EVERYONE, and they “forgot” about that.

      1. Lily Rowan

        Right — optional fun is actually fun! My job had a bakeoff, 10 or 15 of us baked something, a small group volunteered as judges, some small percentage of the rest of the staff rolled through to taste things, everyone else could just do their jobs if they wanted to. It was super fun! But there was literally no pressure, just one or two emails.

    2. OP 1

      Hey Klingons. The purpose of the entire week is to “encourage us to live the values” of the organization. Somehow all these team activities are supposed to help us reach a higher level of morality or something. The lip sync competition is an exercise in working together I guess?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        What.
        The.
        Fuuuuu…

        None of these things have a GD thing with values and morals. I’m actually more offended to see they’re acting like public embarrassment is a way to show values and morals.

        This is usually just lumped under fun and team building and not all business. Not a frigging moral compass check.

      2. Bagpuss

        Unless your job involves lip-synching I can’t see how it would do that!
        What the heck are the values which lip-synching represents, anyway?

        1. JustaTech

          I was told that getting rid of most of our cube walls at work was so we could live our “Together as one” value, with more collaboration.

          1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

            My condolences. You are being demoted to the open plan for “collaboration” (read that as “cheapness”)

      3. Semprini!

        It could be entertaining to make the argument for why this is contrary to the values of the organization. (Have no idea if it would be effective, but could be entertaining)

        For example “Since our value is working together, we really shouldn’t be in competition with each other. We should be doing an activity that allows everyone to contribute based on their own individual strengths, without punishing the group for others’ weaknesses.”

  31. Svetlana

    @LW #2, my partner has a graduate degree in compsci and works in programming and cannot touch type! They are doing just fine.

  32. Slartibartfast

    OP1, if you absolutely can’t get out of the lip sync battle, could you dress up as a piece of scenery? I was the kid who would volunteer to be the tree in the school play. I can’t dance to save my life, but I can stand still just fine.

    1. Slartibartfast

      Ooh, I know! Wear all black with sunglasses and one earbud. Stand to the side with your arms crossed. Be security for the main act.

  33. Rebecca

    #1 – Oh, I loathe things like this!! Why do companies do these things, I mean, 80’s fashion? Where does one magically come up with clothing from the 1980’s to wear to work for one day so you can get points? My company likes to do the ugly Christmas sweater contest, stating we can go to a thrift store and buy an ugly sweater or a Christmas type sweater of some sort to modify for the contest. I’ve refused every year, on the basis that I don’t buy clothing for those purposes. I think it’s wrong to expect employees to spend their hard earned money on “team building” (cough cough) activities!

    The main issue is coerced participation. OP should be able to opt out of this nonsense and just come to work and, well, do her job, and if the others want to play summer camp, OK.

    Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge from a few years ago? Someone at our office got the idea that we would do this, out on our front lawn, and send in the video. My office mate was really dreading this, she isn’t on Facebook, has no social media presence, is very private, and asked to be excused. Manager told her no, everyone was participating, either by being iced, dumping ice, or cheering in the background. I didn’t want to do it either, and I’m bigger and taller than her, so we stood in the background, and when the time came to make the video, oh, man, I must have stepped in front of her, I’m so sorry…you get the picture.

    Bottom line to whoever thinks up these silly things: much of the time, workers don’t like it, it doesn’t build teams, and there are actually some of us who go to work to do things, get paid, and go home – nothing wrong with that. If you’re going to dream up these things in the name of fun, it needs to be completely optional, no repercussions, no goading from others, nothing.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear

      Re: Eighties fashion
      Goodwill stores in my area have a lot of big-shouldered blazers on the racks, but even Goodwill is bereft of Members Only jackets.

    2. EPLawyer

      You are an AWESOME coworker. THIS is team building. You helped a coworker out of a difficult situation, even though you were less than thrilled yourself.

      Honestly, Spirit Week? It’s not Homecoming. You are not trying to win the Big Contract from hated Rival Corporation X.

      Just let people do their jobs. You want esprit de corps? Raises and benefits that people are allowed to use without being shamed. Dealing with problems instead of refusing to manage. Things like that.

    3. Lynca

      I pretty much have something that could pass for 80’s wear in my closet now. Neon tshirt (I have them for construction work), scrunchie, jeans and boots. I’d just use the scrunchie to put my hair in a side pony to “sell” the look.

    4. Watry

      Your friendly former Goodwill employee here: most of those stores don’t even have ugly Christmas sweaters anymore. The sweaters themselves weren’t all that popular to begin with, and then ugly Christmas sweater parties and such got popular.

    5. Guacamole Bob

      I seriously hate the assumption that people have this stuff in their closets, or can get it easily/cheaply. I try to get rid of stuff I don’t wear and don’t have a bunch of extra out-of-style clothes lying around, and I don’t like the wastefulness that’s baked into this kind of thing. I even get annoyed at the “wear color X for cause Y!” campaigns sometimes, because there are entire color families that look terrible on me and so I don’t own anything in that color.

      I was grateful that my kids’ preschool spirit week consisted of things like mismatched socks day and inside-out-shirt day. Some people do have all one style of sock or otherwise couldn’t easily do all the things, but it felt like they made an effort to have it be fun for the kids but very low-impact for the parents. I know as they get older the schools do more involved things like “dress like a superhero day”, and I am not looking forward to it.

      1. Kimmybear

        Yup…they suck. Our elementary school does superhero day, wear orange, etc. And of course they tell us at the last minute. What the school fails to realize is that the school population is heavily immigrant families and no one has explained what these spirit days are. Even my husband (born and raised in the U.S. but out of school long before the spirit day insanity) needed an explanation.

        I feel the same way about most team building events. I’ve even left some recent ones in tears because they were so clearly non-inclusive.

      2. Midwest writer

        My son’s preschool class (for the last two years) had an alphabet countdown at the end of the year that had 2-3 dress up days per week for the last six weeks or so of school. Now, we did get the calendar in advance and most of it was fairly innocuous, but it was still exhausting trying to find something rainbow or polka dots for my son, because those are just not something you easily find in a store for boy clothes. I’m happy to put him in rainbows, I’d just never seen any. I ended up finding a Jurassic World shirt with dino faces in different colors (the sheet said rainbow colors day, NOT rainbow day) and ordering it on Amazon for more than I usually spend on kid clothes. So much extra effort.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

        Yeah, I am not a fan of any sort of dress-up day. I have an awkward body to fit in clothes, and also feel uncomfortable wearing a lot of things that technically fit for various reasons, so my daily “look” is pretty carefully curated around certain styles, colors, and fabrics. The rest of the clothes that I am not wearing today also look like the clothes I am wearing today with very few exceptions.

        I have several bins of clothes that I keep on hand basically so I can rummage through them when someone tells me that we’re all dressing up as pirates or everyone needs to wear orange or whatever, but I am not happy about it and I’m not going to buy new stuff if nothing in my existing Bins o’ Stuff I Bought To Please Other People happen to fit the theme anymore. I still dislike it when they provide team shirts for everyone (I have a body that is not flattered by “unisex” shirts, and also I do not wear things that encourage people to stare at my chest at work so I don’t like logo shirts even in curvy cuts), but at least I don’t have to spend my own time and money on those so it’s somewhat less awful.

        I do not have an Ugly Sweater for the yearly Ugly Sweater party. I didn’t happen to have one when I started this job, and I just don’t see the need to purchase something I’ll only wear once a year, particularly something that has an entire weird little consumer culture around it like that. (Because of the popularity of these parties, most “ugly sweaters” you see now were deliberately manufactured as such and are sold specifically for these parties. The whole thing is just weird to me.)

        The best “spirit day” dress up option I’ve seen is clash/mis-matched outfit day, because at least most people have some things that do not go with each other in their closet. I may only wear a few colors, but I can strategically layer several things with patterns to manage to not match, or wear my most formal top with my least formal pants or something to at least look like I “tried”. I’d rather have “just let me get my work done while wearing something comfortable and then go home and have a beer day”, though.

        My least favorite is “pajama day” for so many reasons. I have a bathrobe I wear with normal clothes under it for that piece of nonsense, but I wish that idea would go away.

    6. Autumnheart

      This is beside the point, I know, but you could easily make 80s fashion items out of anything in your closet right now, it’s really more about how you wear the clothes than the specific clothes themselves.

      If you have skinny jeans, you’re set. If not, you can make them skinny by pegging them (google “How to peg jeans”). If you really don’t care about the jeans, bleach them. Take any pair of crew socks and slouch them to the ankle. Take an old sweatshirt and cut off the neck, sleeves to t-shirt length, and hem so that it’s slightly cropped, and ideally so that it tends to drape off one shoulder. Wear a tank top under it. Congrats, you are officially wearing 80s clothes! Bonus points for making a friendship bracelet or wearing some jelly bracelets, or get some tiny safety pins and tiny beads and pin them all over your sneakers. Take a strip of fabric and tie a bow in your hair. (Long or short hair.)

      Truly, today’s styles are closer to 80s styles than anything I’ve seen since, well, the 80s. You’re pretty much set for the cost of a cup of bleach and maybe an old crappy sweatshirt from Goodwill.

      1. Michaela Westen

        Yes, but this is still work I don’t have time for. Some of my friends like to play with their clothes and hair styles. It sounds like you do too. If I had all the time in the world, maybe. But I spend my evenings and weekends cooking, trying to get enough sleep, doing the chores we all have to do, and trying to fit in seeing my friends. Going to a thrift store – it’s not like there’s one two doors down, we’re talking a special trip – to get a sweatshirt, and spending the time to cut it up, probably screw it up and have to fix it, pegging my one pair of stretch jeans, and my only pair of sneakers is a modern pair of peach-colored Adidas, so that won’t work. Maybe my old purple Fluevog boots? Close as I can get. If I was willing to spend the time. I’m not.

    7. Sleve McDichael

      Tip for the ugly Christmas sweater thing: wear a normal sweater that you already own. When you get to the office take a sheet of printer paper and cut out a paper snowflake and safety pin/paperclip it to your front, or two smaller ones on your shoulders if that works better for you. Minimal effort, no permanent modifications to your nice sweater and gets you past the baseline of team player who participated. ‘It’s supposed to be ugly, right?’

  34. FD

    #1- In regards to why companies do it, I have a theory that it’s a confluence of three factors.

    1) I think a lot of the people who roll these out honestly DO think they’re fun. I have definitely met people that would think this was a great idea. Moreover, people that like this sort of thing are much more likely to volunteer for ‘fun committee’ type duties, so you get a disproportionate effect.

    2) This is the cynical one but…these are comparatively cheap and easy. Everybody wants the benefits of good morale–employees stay longer, work harder, and try to look out for the company’s interests as well as their own. But good morale is best achieved by several things that are both hard and expensive: paying well, giving good benefits, and managing well. I think these team building exercises are the business equivalent of the “Lose 20lbs With No Exercise by Doing this One Crazy Hack!” articles.

    3) Everybody thinks they want to be Google. People look at the externals–the gyms, free meals, pet-friendly offices, and thinks it’s those perks that make Google…Google (yes, I know there’s been a lot of criticism of the working conditions but since I guarantee people doing mandatory lip sync battles aren’t thinking about those things). What I think they miss is that in addition to having a reputation for paying well and giving good benefits (regardless of how true that is), Google has an international reputation for taking only the top talent, and that creates a different culture based on the pride of being able to say “I work at Google.” Only an internationally-recognized brand with that reputation is going to be able to do that, so trying to clone that success isn’t going to work.

    1. Policy Wonk

      I think there is someone in a position of authority (or able to influence someone in such a position) who misses their Frat or Sorority days and is trying to recreate them. This sounds an awful lot like college activities during Homecoming week.

      1. Moray

        Yep–and there is a kind of psychological logic behind pledging in the Greek system. Cognitive dissonance means that people think the more they suffer for something, the more worthwhile the thing they’re suffering for must be. But it only works when it’s for a goal you signed on for and actually want to achieve, not something you’re forced into and have to grit your teeth through.

    2. Heidi

      Agree with all of these. I also think that maybe the people who organize these things imagine that it’s going to be like one of those movies where the introvert comes out of his/her shell using the power of music and endears them to everyone. The example I’m thinking of right now is Napoleon Dynamite. Or maybe that talent show in Mean Girls. Or in My Best Friend’s Wedding when Cameron Diaz does that terrible karaoke. Maybe they fantasize that they’re somehow going to free people socially by breaking down the walls that people have built around themselves and creating a merry fellowship around their mutual goofiness. It might be well-intended, but totally misguided. No adult should have to lip sync if they don’t want to.

    3. PretzelGirl

      I agree with you. There are ways to boost employee morale without this. Also the “camp week” method is likely extremely cheap or completely free to the company. So they get to have a “super fun work environment” without shelling out anything.

      My husbands work is pretty great at actually throwing decent employee appreciation events. There is a large Holiday party every year, with free food and booze. Its actually fun and its voluntary. Their summer event this year is at a theme park near us. With free admission and food for the whole family. Its great and all voluntary!

    4. Ponyboy Curtis

      Onsite gyms, free food, and other perks aren’t a cause of Google’s high profits. Google’s high profits made these perks possible.
      Why do other companies not get this?

    5. Working Mom Having It All

      Also, if your company needs to do team building activities (as in, it is not your personal decision whether to do something like this, just which exact activity it’s going to be), this is comparatively tame, easy to coordinate, and less likely to exclude people. Yes, there are introverts, but 1, introverts aren’t a protected class, and the reality is that every activity you can come up with will have some people who aren’t interested. This feels like it would have less of that than a lot of other things, with the bonus of it not being blatantly discriminatory to a notable protected class in the way that ziplining and the like are.

      Also… people are allowed to opt out. In my experience, nobody actually cares who wins crap like this. Yes, a point is docked or whatever, but that’s within the activity, not on your permanent record or anything like that. Unless you get paired with an outrageously competitive person who simply MUST win the restaurant gift card that tends to be the reward for these things, who cares?

      That said, I’d be fine if, higher up the food chain, we all agreed that these activities are dumb and stop doing them. But unless it’s a very small company, that probably isn’t in the power of the person who decided this year’s activity would be a lip sync battle.

  35. PretzelGirl

    OP1- Personally I think you should “win” some kind of last minute vacation and be absent that week!

  36. Bree

    I have a disability that affects my coordination, esp. my ability to do two different things with my two hands simultaneously. Being forced to try to learn how to touch-type in elementary school was a nightmare and often brought me to tears! I never got there, and still peck – mostly with two fingers.

    I’m also a high-volume writer, known for being fast. Product of being raised on the internet, I suppose. Are they even teaching kids to touch-type these days? Seems like a kind of old-fashioned thing to me at this point.

    In any case, if the way the employee is typing works for him and his role, leave it alone. It seems to me like creating a problem where there isn’t one and you risk making him feel like he’s under surveillance. I’d be a little freaked out that people were paying so much attention to the way I typed, esp. given that my work was good otherwise.

  37. agnes

    oh, my why don’t we try improving employee morale and team building by just paying people fairly, dealing appropriately with co-workers who are rude and lazy, and giving some recognition to people who are working hard?

  38. Aquawoman

    #4, I actually read this as meaning that the individual asking this admittedly annoying repetitive question has a high level of trust in and dependence on you, which is probably not a bad thing.

    #1 When will people realize that if you have to penalize someone for not participating in a morale-boosting exercise, it’s actually a morale-dampening exercise? It’s so “beatings will continue until morale improves.”

    1. Kristine

      Well, having experienced a co-worker who asked repetitive questions of my colleagues, I think it’s annoying. It can also be a type of poisoning the well (it was in my case; I was part-time with another job and everyone else was full-time). I told my co-workers who were being asked this question that it was not up to them to answer for me, and to stop answering her. They did, and she stopped asking. When I asked her if she had a question for me regarding my schedule, this woman said, “No.” That ended it, so she was up to something manipulative.

      1. Aquawoman

        Yes, I said it was annoying in my post. That doesn’t really change the rest of what I said.

  39. Peridot

    My employer is having a mandatory spirit week with a summer camp theme next week. Each day we are to participate in “voluntary” camp activities with our assigned “cabin mates” for the week.

    Oh, my god.

    My boss’ boss had gone into some local phone records and enrolled people using their name, phone number, a fake email, and the funds typically used to enroll individuals with an inability to pay.

    OH MY GOD.

  40. iglwif

    #2 — I touch-type, but I’ve worked with several people over the years who two-finger type just as fast as I touch-type! I also know of a very successful author who has written probably about two dozen books typing with two fingers :) Now, I’ve also worked with a hunt-and-peck person who took 15 minutes to type a really short email, and that was an issue (not one I could resolve, since this person was way above me in the org chart) … but if this person is doing great work and hitting their KPIs, it sounds like this is not that, and is probably not a problem :)

  41. The Man, Becky Lynch

    #5 Since it’s retail, it’s less of a flag to me. It’s already a high turnover industry and I’m suspecting they just keep hiring quickly, knowing it’s not a job that will need to proven on the floor and not something you can always screen for in the interview stage.

    It’s a stronger economy and it’s hard AF, harder than usual fill retail or similar usually less than full time positions. I’ve had to start hiring people we would have passes on originally just to get a warm body in and then they tend go leave faster for all kinds of reasons.

    Always approach the job cautiously but I’m not that worried on this one.

    1. Me

      I thought the same. Retail is notoriously high turnover.

      I say apply. Yes ask good questions like Alison said, but honestly those are questions you really should ask anyway of any job.

    2. Rainy

      I think the real risk here, since it’s retail management for a small store, is that either the SM or ASM is a psycho hosebeast and no one can work with them. Either that or there’s an hours bait and switch, such that candidates are being told 32-26 hours per week but then getting 24-28, and they spend all their time there looking for a job that will pay both rent and food. Or both.

      My band-aid job that tided me over while I was getting my first post-grad-school professional job was as a team lead at a well-known retail store. The SM was nice enough (although she had a real obsession with the kind of labour practices that meant she was never going to have a solid workforce–legal but punitive and petty) but the ASM was both incompetent and one of the nastiest people I’ve ever worked with. She left a month or two after I did, and right after I left there were a rash of rage-quits by store associates.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Since it’s a chain but a small boutique, I assume it’s probably a lot of hours and crazy schedule that ran the others out. But we are also assuming they weren’t fired due to general incompetence, which I’m thinking is more likely the case. They got hired by someone who stinks at vetting and/or training.

  42. RussianInTexas

    So, I know how to get out of these things, and I have in fact employed the strategy before. Be the person who drags the average down. On purpose. No one will want you. Or refuse, refuse, refuse.
    At my Old Job we would have “Race across Australia”, “Race across Africa” team challenges. The pressure to join a team was HUGE. You could walk, run, bike, swim. You could only count bike miles for 1/4 of the total team mileage though.
    Anyway, I couldn’t be bothered. I don’t do non-work related team events, and have zero interest in competing, in fact people who get so wound up about these things are silly to me. Few other people couldn’t bother either. My director tried to get us all in to one team (yes, because people who can’t be bothered will be really good at team). I stood firm.
    Anyway, they stopped doing it because teams in Calgary of Geneva would always win, because the events would be held during summer, and, well, Houston during summer.

  43. lnelson in Tysons

    A former employer thought it great to have a paint ball weekend. Yup where you hunt/fire at others.
    It wasn’t mandatory, but it was expected that most were supposed to go. I bowed out as I was part of the payroll process at that time when there were a few issues and felt that I would be too much of a target. That paranoia was enforced by someone on the finance department who was also part of the payroll process who made a comment about painting a target on me.
    Some events I would not encourage and fortunately I am in HR and have a bit more influence.

  44. Matilda Jefferies

    #2, I would push back a bit with your manager before speaking to the employee about his typing. You say he does great work and is hitting his KPIs, so what’s the actual problem the manager is trying to solve? If it’s just to see if you can make the employee even more productive than he already is, that’s dangerous territory – it feels a bit like trying to wring out the absolute maximum work out of him that you can, without regard to whether or not it’s a good idea for either the employee or the company.

    Some questions you could ask: (even if you already know the answers, it might help to have the manager articulate them)
    *What’s the relationship between WPM and productivity? That is, if he learns to type faster, will it actually have a measurable effect on his productivity overall?
    *If he does increase his productivity, what will be the effect on KPIs? Will they stay the same, now that his numbers are higher, or will the KPIs be increased to reflect his increased productivity? What will be the effect on the rest of the team if this happens?
    *Will the employee feel singled out if he’s suddenly being asked to do more work than everybody else?
    *Are you willing to accept a *decrease* in his WPM (and possibly his accuracy, and almost certainly his productivity) while he un-learns all the years of the typing skills he already has? How much of a decrease, and for how long?
    *If he does increase his productivity, will he be personally rewarded in some way?
    *What happens if he increases his productivity for a while, then drops back to what he was doing before?
    *Law of diminishing returns. Say he’s currently operating at 80% productivity – that’s probably just about the most he can reasonably do. Typing lessons might bring him up to say 82%, but they’re not going to bring him up to 90 or 95%.
    *Maximum productivity is not a worthwhile or healthy goal in any case. You need your employees to have downtime, to breathe, think, go to the washroom once in a while. People who operate at 100% all the time burn out pretty quickly.

    I just don’t think this is a problem worth solving, and from the sounds of your letter it doesn’t sound like you do either. Maybe you can get the manager to spend some time thinking about it in more detail, before trying to fix things (and people!) that aren’t actually broken.

  45. TootsNYC

    4. My coworker asks if I’m coming to work almost every day

    Maybe make a sign that says “in _____ at 10 a.m.” and laminate it, then write “Monday” or the date w/ a china marker, or a white-board marker, and stick it on your monitor each night.

    Or even just “Reminder: my start time is 10 a.m.” with no date, but set it out on your desk before you leave.

    More work than you should have to do, but sometimes a person may need to do something like that if there’s no other fix.

    Or stop caring.

    1. Matilda Jefferies

      Even easier, just put it in your email calendar. Then when Nosy asks every day when OP is coming in, the answer is always “I don’t know, you’ll have to check her calendar.” Repeat, repeat, repeat. Every person she asks, every time she asks, the response is always “check her calendar.” Hopefully she’ll get the message eventually. And if not, the next step is for the manager to intervene, not OP – it’s not OP’s problem to solve, as by definition she’s not in the office when Nosy is asking for her.

  46. LizArd

    I’m a grant writer and I don’t touch type. (They gave us a few weeks of typing class in middle school, but it was too late for me, I’d taught myself the wrong way already.) Right now I’m trying to figure out which fingers I actually use for typing and it seems to be… left index and middle, right index and thumb? But I couldn’t have told you that off the top of my head because I just don’t think about it.

    I’ve started trying to learn the “right way” several times. But I can’t really afford to spend months typing more slowly than I do right now in hopes that I will eventually get faster. I’m fast enough to do my job – that’s good enough for me, and apparently for my bosses, because nobody has ever called me out on it.

    1. LizArd

      I should add – what I do is not “hunting and pecking.” My fingers know where the keys are. They just don’t look for them in the “standard” way.

  47. Narya

    OP1, nobody wants to be forced to sit through their colleagues’ painful, humiliating performances either! God, I can’t imagine… it would be so physically awful being made to stare at grown adults forced to perform such childish hoopla. I would be staring at my lap in embarrassment the whole time.

    1. Rainy

      People will sometimes organize “performances” like that in my office, and I never get picked for them because everyone knows how I feel about stuff like that, but I also pretty much can’t bear to look while it’s happening. There was something like that at staff meeting last week and while the colleague picked to sing (!!!) didn’t seem to mind, I just stared at my planner until it was over.

      Ugh.

    2. OP 1

      I didn’t even consider how bad watching the other groups is going to be. It’s taking place outdoors and there are more than 10 teams.

  48. clueingforlooks

    #5 – If it is a smaller store, it may also be a training store depending on the position. We used to start folks in a management role at our smaller store to learn how things work before we moved them to another store.

  49. BurnOutCandidate

    OP #5 — My previous job, a decade-ish ago, I was a retail manager for an international video game retailer. They listed then — and still list — jobs (management and part-time) at every store on their website. I remember when one of my colleagues found his job listed on the website and freaked out on a conference call. The company uses it as a way of soliciting resumes from applicants in case there’s an opening to fill, and applicants don’t realize that they are applying for job opening that don’t necessarily exist. It’s kinda sad to see on the company’s subreddit someone post that they’ve applied for a job at a local store and they’re really excited, only to have people who actually work for the company say, “Don’t hold your breath. Just because we have the job listed on the website doesn’t mean we’re hiring.”

  50. Just Here for the Free Lunch

    LW1: My company had an OSHA recordable a few years back because it was made explicitly clear that a team-building activity was optional and someone got injured. So “optional but not really optional” activities definitely could come back to bite your employer if someone, say, turns an ankle or twists a knee dancing during the lip sync battle. If there’s anyone who will listen to that logic at your company, you might be able to get them to soften their stance in the future.

    1. Aquawoman

      I was also wondering if this implicated any ADA issues. It is NOT friendly to people who are physically disabled, speech-impaired, hearing-impaired, suffer from anxiety, and other issues.

    2. Mannheim Steamroller

      In addition… If the “not really optional” activities are held outside of normal business hours, then non-exempt employees MUST be paid overtime for any hours spent participating.

  51. Coder von Frankenstein

    LW1, what you need to do is find an evil wizard whose activities everyone at the company is willfully blind to, and foil his scheme. Then the CEO will award your House… er… team enough points to make up for your non-participation and let you win the contest by a hair.

  52. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

    OP #3, what the HELL is going on with this organization?? A nonprofit that not only requires volunteers to run programming, but also makes them PAY for the privilege? A recruitment scheme with tangible rewards for staff depending on the “volunteers” the sign up? Signing people up without their knowledge?? As a nonprofit professional, this is one of the most shocking letters I’ve seen on this site. All of this is completely unethical, and that’s even before you get to the fraudulent numbers. I know it’s hard in your first job to know what’s normal, so let me help: THIS IS NOT NORMAL, this is not ok, this is very very wrong. Please, please try to get out as soon as you can before this volcano blows up any further.

  53. Elizabeth West

    #1–I just don’t understand why employers are so clueless about this kind of thing. It isn’t camp. It isn’t vacation. It’s work. I do not want to do summer camp activities with my coworkers. Generally, I do not even want to hang out with them on my own time. I’m stuck with them for 40 hours a week—why would I want to do any of this nonsense?

    If you want to build a team atmosphere, then manage in a way that promotes teamwork. That is, handle conflicts, facilitate communication, and make sure responsibilities are clearly defined. Don’t waste people’s time with Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey or trust falls or lip-syncing contests.

  54. AJK

    I sort of touch-type. I say “sort of” because I generally don’t have to look at the keyboard, and I use more than one finger, but I am entirely self-taught after years and years of working at a keyboard. My first company used an outdated computer system (the old green-screens) so all of our inputs had to be manually typed, and the faster the better as everything was time-sensitive.
    A customer who said he was a typing teacher once complimented me on my speedy typing, although it was sort of a backhanded compliment – “I was just watching you, you type so fast… and so wrong!” Apparently my self-taught method uses all of the wrong fingers, but I’ve been timed somewhere in the area of 60-70 wpm, so it can’t be all bad.

  55. mayfly

    Maybe I’m cynical, but it seems like these forced performance-based team building culture things (dressing up, crafts, group singing, etc.) are more likely to be imposed in female-majority workplaces? IDK, but I’ve never heard of a mostly male workforce doing something like this (though I mostly know engineering types). And I don’t like that implication at all.

      1. -_-

        I work for an engineering firm. They are making us zipline in September, and last year we had to climb a rock wall and learn to ride segues.

  56. justk

    I work in customer support and several of my (millennial) colleagues type “unusually”, including one who types with two fingers, rarely looks at the screen, and is as fast as anyone else. If the person is hitting their goals, it’s really not an issue and your boss should be less concerned with the optics of that employee’s typing style. Would be cool to offer skill improvement classes like typing, though, as long as it’s something generally available and not just like pointedly offered to only at that person.

  57. Hope

    I hated every minute of my keyboarding class when I took it in high school, but nowadays I’m beyond thankful I was forced to take it. It felt painfully, awfully slow back then, but it was worth it, since I’ve only sped up over time. I was especially grateful when I studied abroad where the keyboard setup was completely different, BUT knowing how to touch type meant I could change to the US qwerty layout on the university computers and type without having to worry about the keyboard being different. My hunt-and-peck friends studying abroad with me didn’t have that option, and it took them so much more work to write anything on a computer over there because of that (this was pre-almost-everyone-has-a-laptop/tablet days).

    But honestly, aside from that kind of scenario, there’s no real downside to the hunt and peck method if that’s more comfortable for someone, as long as they can type as fast as their work needs.

  58. I was walking, now I'm running

    Hi, I’m op3 (the faking numbers case). I have been looking in our employee handbook and there’s no place to report cases like this. Are there any external agencies I can contact? I have been looking for a new job for a while (if we treat volunteers this way how do you think our employees are handled? Its terrible.) and nothing is really coming open for me. I’m really scared and quite honestly burnt out in 6 months and I’m desperate to leave.

    So 2 questions: 1. Who can I contact to report this, ideally anonymously, 2. How do I handle this until I’m able to leave?

    1. in a fog

      If you’re working for a nonprofit, is there a board of directors? Ideally, they would have a way for you to make an anonymous complaint, or you may need to get creative — but that’s exactly the group that should know about this.

      1. I was walking, now I'm running

        There is a board of directors but no way to contact them anonymously. If my boss wasn’t promoted after the first infraction I wouldn’t be so concerned. I know he has at leadt 2 friends on the board and I can’t afford to quit out of the blue/be fired should it come to that.

        1. in a fog

          What about a throwaway email address? A typed letter with no return address? It may feel silly, but if you’re serious about reporting this behavior, that’s how I would do it.

          In either case, definitely look for a new job. It’s going to come crashing down sooner or later.

          1. Michaela Westen

            A typed letter with no return address, which you type at home and print somewhere other than the office so they can’t trace it to you. Print a mailing label or print it on a separate sheet and tape it to the envelope (securely on all four sides, so it doesn’t come off).
            Throwaway email address – the same advice, do NOT access it or do any of this at work. Most companies have spyware and can check up on what you’ve been doing.
            I feel bad for you, I’m trying to think of alternatives. Can you get temporary work? If so, maybe you could leave sooner. Try the temp agencies in your area. Even day labor might be better than this. Or restaurant or retail. Think about whether one of these options would be better than staying in your job.
            Good luck!

            1. Michaela Westen

              Don’t know if I made clear – Don’t handwrite the address on the envelope. Your handwriting might be recognized. Use all the skills from all the spy shows you’ve seen. This is what they’re for!
              I once saw what appeared to be a terrorist threat on Facebook on a friend’s thread. I took a screen shot of it. Blocked my friend’s name and all names except the person who made the threat by putting blue boxes over them.
              Printed this out and sent it to the FBI office in an envelope with no return address.
              That’s what these skills are for.

          2. Michaela Westen

            Is there an oversight organization for the field your employer is in? Maybe report this to them if you don’t think reporting to the board will help.
            Or just leave.

            1. Mr. Shark

              Right. I might send it to the Board, and cc a newspaper or other regulatory agency, if there is one. That way there is no way for the issue to be swept under the rug.

              If you do that, prepare to leave, though, because things might get really bad before getting any better.

    2. FormerNonprofiteer

      I left a nonprofit where numbers were being lied about and people with known issues were being promoted so I know your pain. Honestly, I saved as much money as I could and, when I got to my “magic” number, I quit. Even not having another job. I know that’s not an option for everyone but, based on your letter, it sounds like it might be good if you can do it.
      I don’t know for sure about the legality/illegality of signing people up without their permission but the very idea gave our attorney hives so I’m pretty sure it falls far further on the illegal side.
      You’re probably working for a small enough nonprofit that you don’t have an attorney or HR that you could report this to and it’s pretty obvious that there is little oversight if no one has noticed that this is going on (again!) so I don’t think these are suggestions that we can make.
      My best advice is to protect yourself and document everything, including every complaint that comes in and when/whether you talk to your boss or even the grandboss. Don’t just save emails on your work server either (this may seem paranoid but ex-job went in and deleted emails documenting issues with a problem employee – yeah, there were lots of issues). If you were told not to look a gift horse in the mouth, this is obviously not something that anyone is particularly worried about fixing even if you reported it.
      Take time for self-care – walks, get good books from the library (free! usually physical, e, and audio), talking with friends about anything but work, a therapist, run out your vacation time if you have it by taking random days off to job search and/or sit by a pool somewhere

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      Things are pretty Full of Angry Bees so there may not be a place you can report this while you work there. The non-profit I work with has an ombudsman who would be the one to take something like this to if you weren’t sure where else to take it, but if you’re working someplace where someone has done this before and then was promoted, well, that’s not a place where they’re going to be welcoming reports from lower-level employees about fraudulent sign-ups. They’d have fired him after the first time or at least put some heavy monitoring and new system checks in place to keep it from happening again. Instead, they promoted him, so that’s a strong sign that they’re not going to fix this.

  59. Marni

    All I can say is, I didn’t like participating in crap like this when I was in ACTUAL summer camp. I sure wouldn’t like it as an employed adult.

  60. Princess prissypants

    OP 1 – you mentioned there are others that don’t want to participate. Could you subversively rearrange some people around so that all the “party poopers” (I would hate this too) are on a team together, and then don’t have to worry about bringing down the scores of those who like this sort of thing?

    1. OP 1

      Unfortunately there is no way to rearrange “cabins”. TPTB put us into teams to see how we would use the organization values to work together.

  61. Rust1783

    OP#1, I completely agree with Alison and I’d go a step farther – completely ignore this spirit week as though it’s not even happening. When people ask you about it just tell them it is not relevant to your work and you aren’t able to participate but you hope people who chose to engage are having a good time, and that is literally the only sentence you should need. If people press you further, refer them back to the sentence you just spoke. I would not spend a moment planning your way around the events or thinking up other things to say or trying to participate but making it less disruptive for yourself, etc.

    1. OP 1

      I’m almost through the first day and I’ve gotten through basically doing just this. Whenever our “cabin” is summoned to the courtyard for an activity I just hop on a phone call. A few coworkers had rehearsal practices for their lip sync battle and asked me what kind of dance I’d be involved in. When I said that I simply don’t have time or desire to participate, the looks came. They are literally in denial of the fact that I’m simply too uncomfortable to do this.

      1. Curmudgeon in Califormia

        Call out sick if you have to. Food poisoning is short-lived, usually, and has messy details.

  62. Mimmy

    #2

    I am a keyboarding instructor so seeing this question made my ears…err…eyes perk up!

    I teach blind and visually impaired adults in a vocational rehabilitation program, so I teach the touch-type method since it’s technically a non-visual method. It is considered the most efficient method. Myself, I’ve been touch-typing for most of my life, even the numbers and symbols!

    Many of my students genuinely appreciate learning this skill, especially those who used to hunt and peck but then lost their vision and now have to learn to type a whole new way. However, I’ve had some students who are reluctant, either because they’re comfortable with their own, admittedly incorrect, methods or they don’t want to not be able to look down at the keys, even if they’re leaning so close that their nose is touching the keyboard (even when they use a large print keyboard).

    I’m not 100% if my employer requires that I specifically teach touch-typing but that is how I was trained by the previous instructor to teach our students. My supervisor tells me the goal is to type without looking down at the keys.

    However, I completely get not wanting to be forced to use the *correct* method. If the person is able to type quickly and accurately, then the method really shouldn’t matter. In fact, I allow for minor variations if it a student finds it more comfortable to hit a certain key with a different finger than the “correct” one, as long as they are consistent, which in turn ensures accuracy.

    OP#2’s employer is way off base here. Unless it is hurting productivity, there is no need for typing classes.

  63. Mr. Bob Dobalina

    OP#1: So sorry about your ridiculous culture activities. My response to such stuff at work is a flat, emotionless “I won’t be participating”, and it’s not up for discussion, pressure, or command. As an easily-stressed person prone to anxiety, I refuse to expend any mental energy stressing out about pointless garbage. I don’t engage in any embarrassing, humiliating or demeaning team-building activities just because my employer asked. Employment is a two-way business arrangement, not indentured servitude. I accept whatever consequences come out of my refusal. I understand that you are concerned about your cabin mates–so you have to decide what’s more important to you in the situation. My employer also has the corporate values, overboard social activities and a culture committee (formerly called “Culture Club”… *eye roll*). In my employer’s case, the social CULTure is cover for a dysfunctional environment–it’s a sad trick of “fun-filled” misdirection to draw attention away from all the serious deficiencies in the way the organization operates. Pay no attention to the mismanagement behind the curtain–drink this free beer and sing karaoke instead.

    1. OP 1

      Bob, I’m going to go ahead and follow Alison’s advice with this approach. Like you, I do not do well in social situations especially since my job involves dealing with the public already.

  64. Flora

    Letter writer #1, I also despise your boss. That game would be the hardest of hard passes for me and also if pressed I would probably need to leave the premises, consequences to me or others be damned. I am making the face of extreme discomfort and disgust just thinking about it, bleh.

    People’s ability to deal with “social” games like this is (deal with, enjoy, etc) is variable, and my experience is that folks who love this kind of thing sometimes have to be sat down and told, firmly, that for real, no you’re not being coy, no, it’s not being a wet blanket, yes, you do like to have fun, and hey guess what this is actually just like them being forced to work alone in a closed room all day every day doing X task you know they would find soul-killing, and even if that’s not their experience with it, a decent person would believe their peers who report this other experience. You may or may not be able to have that conversation with the folks making this event happen, but even so, you might be able to have it with some of the peers who are excited about it and gain some allies for next year or something.

    1. OP 1

      Yesterday I told my department that I’m not doing the lip sync thing and they are in complete denial. I told them “I’m simply uncomfortable pretending to sing and dance in front of the organization and I’m sorry that the committee designed the week in a way where others have to pay a price for that”. My coworkers just laughed and said “we’ll see”. Maybe I should ask “how would you feel if you had to spend a few hours completely alone? That’s how anxious these activities make me”.

  65. sheworkshardforthemoney

    As a very unco-ordinated introvert, this is the hill I am willing to die on. I never dressed up for Halloween as a kid. I’m not about to have myself costumed pretending to sing and dance and filmed(!) for the amusement of strangers.

  66. Dee

    I’ve been working in summer camps for over ten years. Just tell them “challenge by choice” and sit in the grass pulling weeds, same as my kids do. :)

  67. Light37

    #1- I like to sing and have no problems lip-syncing with my music, and I have performed as a dancer on several occasions. I still don’t want to do these things at work. I do them on my own time and of my own volition. They have nothing to do with the work I’m being paid for, and I prefer it that way. I especially don’t want to do it in a group of people who don’t want to be doing it either, so that we can be graded on our performance.
    I feel like “spirit day” should be over after high school sports games are (IRRC, that’s when we had them. I pretty much napped through pep rallies.)

  68. Anon Librarian

    #2 – I have an unusual typing style. It never held me back. I can type as fast as anyone else (tested). When I started working in large office settings, I learned how to type normally because it was attracting too much attention. But I actually type faster using my more idiosyncratic method. So, if speed is not an issue, I would let this go completely. If speed is an issue, I would ask him about it before offering a solution. Or suggest a few options and let him pick one (classes, having someone else take notes for him, etc). Because who knows what the cause is.

  69. CM

    #1 — I think the solution depends on how confrontational you want to be. So, if you don’t want to be confrontational and your goal is to try to squeak through the experience without really participating but also without having anyone think of you as a non-participator for fear you won’t belong to the group (I’ve been there), then being sick on the day you really don’t want to do stuff is probably fine.

    If you’re okay with having everyone know you’re not participating, then the other option is to just say that clearly at the start, in a normal not-angry tone of voice, “I’m not participating in this, but good luck to you guys.” If you’re super strong with that from the beginning and act perfectly friendly about it while not backing down from your boundaries, most people will respect it with no hard feelings.

    (If someone on your team does get mad at you for some reason, switch the framing from how you’re penalizing them with your non-participation to how the organizers are actually the ones penalizing them for your non-participation, and you agree that that’s not fair, and they should complain to the organizers about that rule, because you’re definitely not participating).

  70. Lix

    I just want to second that research on touch-typing with personal experience. I’ve never figured out how to type “properly” and I still type significantly faster than anybody I know. Taking classes could be fun for someone, but you also run a severe risk of slowing a person down enormously because they think they need to type your way but as it turns out, they’re not used to it, so they’re far slower and make way more mistakes. I don’t have a problem with how I type (it’s like, two to four fingers, I don’t look at the keyboard but I look at the screen) and it would be incredibly annoying to teach myself to type another way.

  71. Candace G.

    RE #5 – Agree to still apply. This happened to me once – saw a job reposted twice within a year in a field where opportunities are rare. Asked about it at the interview. Found out that they had hired a person who then had a visa problem and could not be hired after all, then hired another person who was working out just great – until 6 months into the job, she got cancer, and died 3 months later. So for the 3rd time, the job was posted. I got it, stayed there a decade. Sometimes, it really isn’t a problem employer. It may be – but not always.

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