my employee delivered a status update … in song

I’m off today. This was originally published in 2015.

A reader writes:

I am a newly promoted manager and am stumped on how to handle something bizarre that happened in a meeting today, primarily because my sense of humor is getting in the way. I asked one of my employees to explain the progress he’s made in the assignment he’s been working on, and he said, “I would love to tell you…in song.” He proceeded to pull out a harmonica and “find his note,” before erupting into a musical ditty explaining everything in detail. It was so weird…that I did not know how to respond in the moment. Making it worse is that I find this hysterical, and I could not stop smirking the rest of the meeting. Whenever I think about the occurrence, I start to laugh again.

However, that doesn’t mean I find it acceptable, and intend to have a serious discussion with him tomorrow. But I’m curious to know how you would address it, particularly since my potential laughter and smiling will not convey how unacceptable I find his behavior. I do not want this to seem like a suggestion. Am I immature in not being able to hide these emotions? Am I making too big a deal about the situation? I never thought I would have to deal with this as a manager.

I actually think this is hilarious. Is there a reason you find it unacceptable and want to address it with him? I mean, obviously you don’t want all status updates being delivered in song, but unless it becomes a pattern, I’d just assume it was an amusing one-off from someone having a good time (which is not a terrible thing if it doesn’t impede people’s work) and leave it at that.

I’m not saying this is necessarily happening with you, but some managers — especially newer managers — have a tendency to feel like they have to establish capital-A Authority and sometimes see casual behavior or things that deviate from the norm as Things That Must Be Stamped Out. But if you’re having that impulse, it’s important to ask yourself why. Does the behavior in question really have an impact on the work? Is it something where you’ll do more harm than good by coming down on someone for a one-time occurrence? Is it really a significant problem?

If there’s more to this — like you didn’t get important information you needed or you think he has a habit of not taking work as seriously as you need him to — you should address that. But if it’s just a single song? Let yourself laugh (with him, not at him), appreciate his musical talent, and move on. It’s okay to have a little silliness at work.

{ 179 comments… read them below }

  1. CoffeeFail*

    This warrants an update. Did OP have a conversation with the employee? Did the ditties continue? Did others get in on the musical action?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Yes, I would LOVE an update on this, both on what the guy was like overall and how the manager got on in their role in general

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The OP commented a few times on the original post under the username “Original Poster.”

        Sounds like the guy was a bit of a “class clown” before the status update song:

        He is often unfocused and tries to elicit laughter from the rest of the group. Our team has a good sense of humor, but I can tell co-workers are getting tired of his antics (e.g., apparently he has taken to doing impersonations of the Spongebob laugh when I am not around, and it breaks some other employee’s concentration). To be fair, his work is totally on point, but I feel he is a distraction.

        The OP decided not to address the song specifically.

        It would be great to get an update now, a few years down the road, to hear how both the employee and the OP are doing.

        1. Jora Malli*

          Oof. See, I can imagine a scenario in which a cleverly written song update by a well liked coworker would go over well with colleagues at a meeting. But this context definitely explains why the LW was troubled by it. If you’ve got a guy who has to make a joke out of everything all the time (and thinks laughing like a cartoon character is the height of hilarity), and then he derails the whole staff meeting to make a big production of singing his status update, that’s an entirely different ball of wax and I think if Alison had had that information before writing her response, she may have responded differently.

        2. NYC Taxi*

          This guy would drive me nuts and I would put a stop to that nonsense immediately. I like fun, but if I’m asking for a status update, I want a status update, not a performance piece. It’s disruptive to the flow of the back and forth discussion if he’s bellowing out a song if I have questions plus I would be suspicious that he’s trying to cover up not doing or forgetting to do a task by hiding behind his “performance.”

    1. Cmdrshpard*

      I agree I really wish I was creative enough, and musically inclined enough to be able to do something like this.

      Doing this in front of clients, or other outside partners would not be okay, but in a one on one, or even a staff meeting with coworkers this would okay every once in a while. If I were the manager I would request a song status update once a year, maybe once a quarter but that is a lot of pressure/work.

      If the employee tried to do every status update in song that would not be good, but every once in a while not a big deal.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “Tomorrow’s staff meeting will be in the key of G.”

      Brings new meeting to “team harmony”…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        If you have 4 team members that can sing in harmony, they could even form a barbershop quartet!

        1. Very Social*

          And if they don’t get along, it’s a perfect way to get them harmonious in other ways too!

      2. many bells down*

        I am currently learning the bagpipes so I will eventually be the most obnoxious person in any meeting XD

    3. quill*

      I can only do specific forms of poem…


      My name is Jim
      and when we meet
      to update you my mouth harp tweets
      my status I will tell in verse
      to the whole team
      this is my curse

      (Surprisingly hard to fit this into a bredlik!)

      1. Jelizabug*

        Maybe it’s because you’re trying to use Business English instead of Critter Talk? Kind of puts a damper on bredlik. :)

        1. quill*

          Yeah, so many one syllable words in Ye Olde Animal Speak. You can fit so much more into the 4 syllable lines when they don’t include multisyllable words!

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        A status Haiku

        The network is down
        I can not connect to it
        No work will be done

    4. Cat Tree*

      My department has a short, informal update meeting every morning (we are in manufacturing and this type of meeting makes sense for our work). We started an official tradition of someone telling a (work appropriate) joke at the beginning of each meeting. That might be a better way to go.

    5. Erin*

      I frequently do song parodies, and sub in the relevant work information for the lyrics. It’s incredibly fun for me. Jay Z, Garth Brooks, Erasure, TLC have gotten the best reaction. Plus, people remember the info better.

      It must be at least somewhat a hit, as others have made their own song parodies, and it has spanned across teams. It is hilarious!

  2. Governmint Condition*

    With apologies to Jim Croce:

    ‘Cause ev’ry time I tried to tell you
    The words just came out wrong
    So I’ll have to give my status in a song

    1. Amber Rose*

      I’d be more tempted by Foo Fighters:

      I’ve got another confession to make
      The project’s late

    2. never mind where I work*

      I work in a teaching hospital and when I give my orientation talk to the new residents I end with a poem about central line infections.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’ve never tried poetry or song, but the last time I taught my coworkers about bloodborne pathogens I brought in a bunch of stuffed diseases (some of which I had crocheted myself) and when one coworker wasn’t paying attention I threw (gently lobbed) a herpes at him. Everyone was much more attentive after that.

        (This coworker once nearly licked his gloved finger in the lab trying to pick up a microscope slide off the floor.)

    3. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      For some reason, I want to try to do a status report to the title theme from “Man of La Mancha”…

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Here me now, oh thou bleak and unending meet,
        Thou art dull and boring as can be,
        And a knight with his powerpoint all bravely unfurled,
        Now hurls down his update to thee
        I am I Fergus McFerguson,
        Junior developer of Lama Corp!
        I may get a PIP for this,
        But the wild winds of fortune shall carry me onward
        Hope my manager can take the blow
        Onward to AAM glory I gooooooo

        1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

          Bravo! Bravo!!!

          Here’s my try…

          Hear me now, oh my boss, here’s my status report
          It’s as bleak and as downbeat can be…
          For the resources that I so desp’rately need
          Are nowhere to be found by me!
          I am I, I WontFixYou
          I can’t do a damned thing
          I really wish it weren’t so
          And until I can get them
          Those resources I need
          My status will remain not done

          My status will remain not done
          Until I get what I need!

          1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

            Darn it… That last line should read “Until I *can* get what I need!”

          2. Humble Schoolmarm*

            Applause to you too! Especially for getting the syllables to line up better (Junior Developer was a bit of a stretch)

  3. Zaeobi*

    If it wasn’t negatively affecting his (or anyone else’s) work, then I hope the manager learnt to ease up a bit & allow some fun in the workplace!

    1. Mr. Shark*

      Eh, call me what you want, but I don’t want anyone breaking out into a song for a status report. Let’s be professional. This guy may have been entertaining and may be able to carry a tune, but that doesn’t mean the next person will be.

    1. La Triviata*

      We once had a woman on staff who threatened to do a status update in interpretative dance. She didn’t, but the option was there.

  4. MysteriousMise*

    This is hysterical.

    I’m a lawyer, and I have a “cease and desist” dance and sing I perform for colleagues, and selected clients.

    And I’m long acknowledged as being hysterical. ;)

    1. Anonymous for this one*

      I have a background in musical theater and a day job in customer service. When something completely random happens and my coworkers are trying to figure out an explanation for why, I will sometimes break into the bridge of Some Enchanted Evening.

      Who can explain it, who can tell you why?
      Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.

    2. Pippa K*

      Are you familiar with the Texas lawyers, Hutson and Harris, who have some hilarious and informative songs on YouTube? My fav is “Don’t Eat Your Weed” which explains that destroying evidence is a more serious crime than possession of a small amount of cannabis.

      1. AnotherOne*

        also, i’d think eating weed just raw wouldn’t sit well on your stomach. cuz there has to be a reason that edibles generally have sweeteners.

        could be wrong. maybe it’s one of those things that’s really good for your digestive systems…

        1. anon for now*

          The actual answer is that the THC is activated by being heated. So, burning, cooking, and vaping all work, but just being at body temperature isn’t hot enough.

          1. Zan+Shin*

            Having had to quickly eat a large quantity of weed in 1974 (four of us sharing a half ounce helped down with glugs of milk because the state trooper was parking his vehicle) i can attest that 1) it doesn’t affect digestion and 2) yes even 1974 era Mexican leaf can get you way stoned if you eat it.

      2. Distracted Librarian*

        OMG thank you for this! I just spent 15 happy minutes of my lunch break with these guys. The holiday advice one is the best!

      3. Really?*

        Thank you for this. Died laughing, before I forwarded it to my nephews. Don’t live in Texas, but sterling advice…particularly “please shut up!”

      4. MysteriousMise*

        I am not. I thank you for bringing this to my attention.

        *Sets client clock running, and turns on YouTube*

    3. buddleia*

      OMG. Please post a video of yourself doing this on YouTube and send us the link. Please!!!

      1. MysteriousMise*

        Never, ever happening. Irl only.
        However, if Allison ever does an AAM in Europe, then maybe I’ll change my mind…..

    4. OyHiOh*

      My favorite ditty to break out with is in Something’s Rotten “A Musical” – well that’s the stupidest thing that I have ever heard! Usually sung to myself, for what it’s worth, and always enormously satisfying.

    1. Writer Claire*

      My spouse was tasked with taking notes during staff meetings, and one time, he wrote the notes in noir detective style. I thought it was brilliant because the style was spot-on *and* it covered every important detail of the meeting

      1. Clisby*

        Oh, gosh, this reminds me of Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) trying to solve a math problem as his alter-ego, hard-nosed detective Tracer Bullet.

        1. Writer Claire*

          I remember Tracer Bullet!

          Now I need to find my copy of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I had a generational glitch when my colleague and I were doing a noir dialogue bit and our much younger teammate had absolutely no idea what we were referencing. *sad face*

  5. Amber Rose*

    I would have had a very serious issue with this. How dare any employee plan a whole status update song without enlisting me to provide harmonies and backup?


  6. EmbracesTrees*

    bahaha! you win the comments today

    Correct response from OP:

    Since ev’ry time people report
    The words just blur into a bore
    So I’ll have to ask all of you … to sing even more

  7. CTT*

    This is the sort of thing I would probably say “Hey, that’s cool to do in internal meetings, but I just want to be clear it shouldn’t happen with [clients/CEO/donors/the Pope]” since we’ve seen from many past letters that people don’t always get what’s appropriate for different settings, especially if people in one setting are enjoying it.

    1. Heidi*

      What about the orgy that you’re bringing the Pope to?
      Agree with the time and place. Also, if he’s spending a ton of time writing this song when he should be working, you can also tell him to cut it out.

      1. KatEnigma*

        The Pope gets sung to on a regular basis. I wonder what genre the colleague chose for his song – probably not a hymn or chant. Showtune?

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I specifically meant the thought of some random person singing information to the Pope in a song they’d just made up.

          1. Lirael*

            “And I do confess
            That I possess
            The need for forgiveness, deep in my SOOOOOOOOOUL!!!!”

            If I ever meet the Pope I’m going to try to make a confession in song.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              Remember that “sex” rhymes with “hex” and at least the Pope won’t fall asleep!

            2. Lizzo*

              I’m not sure if you’re riffing on a Britney Spears song, but that’s how I’m singing this in my head…

        2. Lab Boss*

          My manager was trying a new brainstorming technique where she’d play some music while we all independently jotted our own thoughts, then moved forward once everyone had some time to get their thoughts in order. One meeting she singled me out and said “quick, what’s the last background music you listened to while you did paperwork?”

          And since I don’t always think fast enough to come up with a plausible lie on the spot, that’s how our brainstorm was conducted to a Rosary done in Gregorian chant.

    2. kiki*

      Yeah! I feel like it would be helpful to clarify with the singer that LW found it hilarious and other people in this meeting seemed to roll with it, but it really wouldn’t be okay in other circumstances.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. That was my question: who is in this meeting? Internal team? It’s fine.

    4. turquoisecow*

      That was my thought. Yeah this is fine with your easy going boss but that wouldn’t be okay with the VP or the CEO or some important client or something like that. I’d make sure the employee knows this, especially if he has a reputation for being a jokester.

    5. Littorally*

      Agreed, yeah.

      Also, probably not appropriate if the update on his assignment wasn’t a positive one — I’d be a lot more concerned if he was singing to tell me he was grossly behind and had messed up some steps, versus if he’s saying that everything is fine nd proceeding to schedule.

      If everything’s copacetic and there’s no bigwigs (and he can carry a tune at least decently well), then… sing on, friend. Keep the world weird.

  8. The Tin Man*

    Oh look, OP hired the male equivalent of Jessica Day (I guess Justin Long from that show?)

    Or maybe I’ve been spending too much time re-watching New Girl.

    1. Miss Fisher*

      As much as I love every other single character on that show, I cannot stand Jess. And it was for reasons like this.

      1. searching for a new name*

        believe it or not, that’s not the first time someone has broken my feelings stick. I have a travel size

        1. Miss Fisher*

          Its the same reason I struggled with the office, couldnt stand Michael. I just didnt understand how he had a job. Its really because I cant handle the cringiness of certain characters. Same reason I can’t do certain reality competition shows as well.

          1. quill*

            Oh, the secondhand embarrassment is real. It’s rare for me to find a comedy that I don’t bounce off because someone was just too horrible or just too excruciatingly implausible for me to continue watching. (So far The Good Place is my only exception for mainstream tv comedies I have not quit after 4-5 episodes due to the secondhand embarrassment.)

  9. Zennish*

    I once composed a written progress report as a series of haiku. I’m sure that was far more annoying. :-)

    1. cleo*

      One of my colleagues once explained her team’s role in a series of haiku and it was honestly the highlight of the meeting for me. Plus, I learned a lot.

      1. Hanani*

        I wrote my essays in high-school psychology in various rhyme forms, including a series of haiku and a sonnet.

        My very gracious teacher tolerated this at least in part because a) I got all the info in there and b) I finished the multiple-choice section in about 7 min. Apparently it brought great entertainment to the teacher’s lounge.

        1. Not in Nantucket*

          I write limerick summaries in status mails I send and reports I write. Some of them are pretty catchy if I do say so myself.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I used to quote songs in my history homework when I was 14 and 15, but my teacher never looked at it; she just got us to call out our answers so I rephrased if she asked me. She’d have seen the funny side anyway, as it was accurate. I was quoting from songs about the events in question (in Ireland, EVERYTHING is memorialised in song). I also did things like putting asides in brackets like insulting leaders I didn’t like and stuff.

    2. LadyAmalthea*

      One day when the store I worked in was wicked dead we wrote the evening log in sonnet form. It was fine as a one off.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My father’s office used to do cartoons. The characters were the employees and looked like the employees- very well drawn. And the humor was good general humor that did not bother people. My father saved them and I still have a few. I haven’t thought of this in quite a while. It seems like he worked with a good group of people.

  10. Manders*

    In law school my extremely creative brother turned in a 20 page poem on tort reform. Since it was both creative and covered the requirements of the paper, he got the top mark in the class.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This would probably have been much more fun to both write and read than a normal research paper.

  11. Yvette*

    Maybe the employee was Lin-Manuel Miranda. Most performers had day jobs when they were first starting out.

        1. Ann Perkins Knope*

          I say often “I will gladly do so!” about stuff. I’ve never had occasion to add “In song form!’ because I don’t sing.

        2. Usagi*

          Hahaha I was thinking about “we don’t talk about Bruno… BUT!” *proceeds to sing about Bruno instead*

  12. El l*

    Yeah, OP, this is pretty funny. More to the point when you have something like this, ask the fundamental question the next time you’re stumped if something is “professional”:

    “Did things get done?” And its followup, “Did it build an environment to get more things done?”

    So long as the answer is yes – that’s professional.

  13. The Editor-In-Chief*

    Years and years ago, I was told to assemble a press kit.

    I drafted my two coworkers into performing a press *skit* which explained in excruciating detail the duties of our PR jobs and what we brought to the table.

    Boss was not amused, but several higher-ups found it hilarious.

  14. AthenaC*

    Most important question – did it rhyme? Did it have good cadence or were the syllables / lines all jumbled together?

    1. Jora Malli*

      Solid question! I’d be more willing to roll with the song update if it was actually a good and/or clever song than I would be if it was a half-assed plea for attention. :)

  15. Zap R.*

    A joke between two of my coworkers that one of them should “give an update through interpretive dance” led to both of them overcommitting to the bit; Coworker A eventually compelled an enthusiastic Coworker B to unleash his inner Martha Graham during a meeting.

  16. MsM*

    I don’t know whether to be delighted or dismayed that the “additional recommended reading” came up with two other song-related pleas for help.

  17. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    At times when I’m super busy, my brain goes into overdrive and that is why I have written poems about litigation.
    My boss has been known to create collages about cases.

  18. Zan+Shin*

    My last, very happy position before I retired was as a nurse care manager in a nonprofit – community health related, with three distinct offices covering distinct areas of two rural counties, each comprising three or four separate small programs (think senior teapot painting, kids tapestry weaving, and information support for glass beading). At one of the last all-staff annual meetings and luncheons I attended, the direct supervisor for all three senior teapot locations was going to be on vacation. She asked each location to have its most experienced team member to provide an annual program update. Since we were smarting from the absence of an old favorite annual meeting segment – team skits! – I led the senior teapot painting team in writing an annual report based on, and to the tune of , Sheena is a Punk Rocker and brought an instrumental mix to play as we stood and delivered our report. It did bring down the house.

    1. Bexy Bexerson*

      Oh, the money I would pay to go back in time and be one of your colleagues to witness (or better yet, participate in) this!

      1. Zan+Shin*

        Bexy, I suspect a video transfer from phone may live on my hard drive. If so I will upload to my YouTube and post a link!

        1. Zan+Shin*

          Crap. It’s on a former laptop and gone. All i recall is the chorus reiterating the very important news about our main social worker “Pamela is….retiring, Pamela is…retiring, Pamela is …. retiring nowwww”

  19. Born a smart alec*

    I was forced to take a college course on office administration and the instructor had found over the years that the textbook he had chosen, in addition to being very dry and boring, used a lot of words that the majority of students did not know. This lead him to create lists of vocabulary words for which we had to write out definitions and turn in as homework.

    I was deeply offended at both how badly the textbook was written and getting assigned vocabulary words at 40 years old. My solution to both issues was to write out my vocabulary homework as short stories. The instructor hated it, but as I was adhering to the crux of the assignment there was not much he could do.

    My masterpiece involved a word list which inexplicably contained ‘prestidigitation’ (in a textbook on office admin, may I remind you). I wrote a short history of Jasper Maskelyne the war magician and ended up getting a standing ovation from the rest of my class.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I might’ve imposed the Gibbs $3 rule.

      Cash owed for each $3 word used in lieu of a reasonable word.

    2. Meow*

      I did something similar when we had vocab words in 12th grade AP English. Also the vocab words were in alphabetical order, and there were so many of them, I don’t recall us ever getting through the Cs – so most of the words I had to construct my stories with began with A. It took a lot of creativity.

      My English teacher just rolled her eyes and told me to stop wasting time writing stories and use the time to actually study. I told her I had to do it this way to keep my brain from rotting of boredom.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        How is writing stories NOT studying English? And I say this as an English teacher. The Leaving Cert. English paper here (equivalent to exam at the end of 12th grade) has an option to write a story for 25% of the entire grade. And there is another 12% for another sort of creative assignment – tends to be stuff like “write a diary entry from the point of view of a character” or “write the speech you would give welcoming new students to your school,” that sort of thing.

        I mean I can see why it would be annoying to correct an assignment on vocab words in the form of short stories, but…an English teacher refering to writing stories as “wasting time” seems bizarre to me.

      2. FalsePositive*

        Stop wasting time writing stories in AP English class?????? The mind boggles.

        ‘You there, stop doodling, this is an art class!”

      3. Churpairs*

        I got in trouble in English class for creating – CREATING, not doing – a crossword puzzle while the class was doing a reading I’d already completed.

        1. allathian*

          Luckily I never got in trouble for creating find the words among random letters puzzles in my classes when I was done with the assignments.

    3. MsM*

      I doubt I would have been clever enough to come up with that inspiration in your place, but now I’m picturing giving this guy a bunch of Lemony Snicket-style definitions for things.

      1. Feral campsite raccoon*

        I really feel for this guy. When I’m in a non-creative position my brain tends to get bored. I’ve more than once gotten a reputation that way. In high school biology I once turned in a Star Wars- inspired cartoon explaining the theory of the prokaryotic origins of mitochondria in eukaryotic cells. It contained the phrase “Leuk, I am your father.” Fortunately the teacher found it funny.

    1. Allonge*

      I agree! Once, and preferably with only your boss present or boss and your team, not higher ups :)

    2. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Exactly what i was coming here to say.
      Everybody gets a “once” (within reason).

  20. stick in the mud*

    I’d find his behavior annoying as shit. I asked for a status update, not a musical interlude. Don’t get me wrong, people should be able to be silly at work, when appropriate.

  21. Xakeridi*

    If it’s done on a private or limited audience setting and infrequently, I dont see the issue. Work is work but it doesn’t need to be brutally controlled.

    It would be different if it happened in a large conference setting. But that’s not what the letter writer described.

  22. The Computer Science Chanteuse*

    TL, DR: I could have done what the OP’s employee did. I actually did something similar.

    The saga:

    Once upon a time, I worked for a major R&D organization (if you use the U.S. phone system, the Internet, or anything with a transistor in it, you have used our work). One of the internal organizations I worked for had a long history of entertainment at luncheons. Before my time, there was a department head who played a pretty mean banjo and would sing songs at these luncheons, mostly parodies of popular songs, celebrating promotions and retirements and project milestones and such. Shortly after I arrived, someone showed me a copy of this gentleman’s “songbook” — it was a hoot!

    Because I can sort of play guitar (enough chords to get by) and have the odd gift of being able to figure out rhymes for almost anything (looking at you, “orange” — maybe some day!) I took over the (unpaid but much appreciated) job of luncheon musician. Someone got an M.B.A? That’s close enough to the M.T.A. to bring up the song about poor Charlie. Provide something for the December Holiday Luncheon? Take “Jingle Bells” and “Old Lang Syne” and the organization’s “purpose, vision, and values” statement, plus some visual hamming it up from those who performed with me, and people were laughing out loud.

    Note: When writing original lyrics, I was always careful to be positive. Any fool can be negative and get a few chuckles, but these were supposed to be tributes to the people being honored. I admit I sometimes needled management a bit, but only in the sense of “so this person just got promoted? They’re so great it should have happened years ago!”

    The one that came closest to getting me in trouble: we were preparing for some sort of international quality certification, maybe an ISO thing, and people were going to be coming in to interview us and among other things we had to know the organization’s quality policy. I did not realize at the time that it was legitimate to post a copy on the office wall and point to it if asked about it. I thought we had to memorize the thing, and although I’m not great at memorizing paragraphs of corporatespeak, I can learn nearly anything by heart if it’s set to music. Thus, for my own edification and amusement, the Quality Policy became the new lyrics of “Three Blind Mice,” “Frere Jacques,” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Then came a dry run: an internal team interviewing randomly selected people, in preparation for the big event, and I ended up on their list. The interview went well until the end, when they asked me for the quality policy in my own words. I knew one person on the committee, and she knew me, so I told her I didn’t know if I would have the nerve to do this if it were the real thing, then took a deep breath and launched into the Quality Policy Triptych. When I finished, they actually laughed, and my colleague explained my role in the department’s extracurricular activities. However, I doubt that it was a coincidence that I was *not* selected as a candidate for the formal interviews.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Not being selected for a formal interview sounds like a bonus. (I’ve been close to ISO interviews and audits also.)

      1. Beth*

        “English is a language than which none is sublimer,
        But it presents certain difficulties for the rhymer.
        There are no rhymes for orange or silver
        Unless liberties you pilfer.
        I was once slapped by a young lady named Miss Goringe,
        And the only reason I was looking at her that way, she represented a rhyme for orange.”

        — Ogden Nash, from “A Brief Guide to Rhyming”

        Of course, there’s also the Stan Rogers song “The House of Orange”, which ends with a successful rhyme for “orange”, but only according to folk song standards, which are much more generous.

    2. Gumby*

      I can learn nearly anything by heart if it’s set to music.

      Many a student has memorized the bulk of the periodic table only thanks to the work and ingenuity of Tom Lehrer. (I am not one of them. I haven’t *tried* but I suspect it would take more effort than I wish to expend even set to music.)

      1. quill*

        I can only do elements to the tune of the continents (where’s austrailia? there’s austrailia!) song and believe me, by the third repetition that tune gets stale.

      2. Anonymous Cornellian*

        In the late 80s one Cornell chemistry prof offered extra credit to the student who would memorize & perform that in front of the full lecture hall. I know at least one person got it.

    3. Golfball*

      We are the model of a modern office regulatory
      We’ve information on published policy and quality
      We know ISO 9001 in a form of oratory
      For management and direction it guides us, you see

      That’s about all I can do for five minutes worth.

        1. Golfball*

          I’ve had some practice, although not at the office.

          Growing up, if for whatever reason a particular Christmas gift could not be obtained in time for a variety of reasons (for example, one year I wanted a vanity plate for my car for Christmas. Since Dad owned the car, he needed to do it, but also needed my input, so it couldn’t be done before Christmas), a brick was wrapped and put under the tree. There was also some work of literature, my dad and one of my brothers modified “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The recipient is supposed to read it out loud.

          I modified show tunes. Recipients (except my mother) would need to sing them if they knew the tune.

          This could get extensive sometimes. One year, I was trying to get my brother a stuffed 1-up mushroom. For whatever reason, shipping was very delayed. The brick song was “Comedy Tonight” from “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”. It was fun to write, and my brother had fun singing it (as the entire cast).

      1. Eater of Hotdish (fka jitm)*

        Is that better, or worse, than being the very model of a scientist salarian?

  23. A. Ham*

    I am disappointed that in my many years working (administratively) in the performing arts, I have never seen someone give a report in a meeting in song. :-(
    of course it is super common to hear people randomly break out in Broadway showtunes on any given day, and I have seen (and participated in) full on sing-a-longs every once in a while, but never an original song written and performed specifically for a meeting. I will have to tell my colleagues to step it up.

  24. musician*

    I’m a music therapist in a healthcare setting as my day job. I wouldn’t do this when meeting with non-music therapist colleagues, but when meeting with other music therapists across sites, stuff like this wouldn’t make any of us bat an eye. It’s not like we always (or even regularly) do our updates through song, but it wouldn’t be out of the question either.

  25. Goody*

    This one depends entirely in the rest of the audience, IMO. I wouldn’t want to harsh his mellow, but there do need to be some rough guidelines somehow.

    If this was a one-on-one or a small internal team check-in, I would applaud his creativity and ask that he just be mindful of the situation and sparing in his usage for the future, because it could get very annoying if it becomes an ongoing thing.

    Somehow it needs to be made clear that this would not be appropriate around upper management or outside contacts without making him feel like he’s being given a warning.

    And then maybe set up some sort of team building activity where he can really lean into his skill as an entertainer? The literal song and dance may not be a job skill, but that was definitely pretty cool.

  26. Spicy Tuna*

    I had a job once where there was a quarterly presentation by various departments to the whole company to bring everyone up to speed on who they were and what they were working on and creativity was not just encouraged but mandatory. They actually ended up scrapping this because it was a company filled with type A overachievers and people really went too far with the songs, dances, costumes and skits.

  27. buddleia*

    To those of you who have given status updates/reports/meeting summaries etc. in songs, detective noire, haiku, poems, short stories etc., you are all so talented. Paging Alison to please start a separate post so people can post their masterpieces in the comments for all to see. Please :)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Search for the post “we have to write deeply personal poems and share them at a staff meeting” from April 29, 2019. The poetry-writing talent is on full display in that comments section!

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Oh, that’s awful! I would have happily shared teenage me’s collection of emo poems from the point of view of anime characters with my co-workers. Probably would have freaked out the bosses as many of the themes were pretty dark, but you play silly games, you win silly prizes.

  28. Heffalump*

    ♫ I’ve been clowning around too long . . . to stop now. ♫

    (With apologies to Otis Redding.)

  29. Regina Phalange*

    I’m all about having a little fun at work, but the issue with this is that he was delivering a status update. I would be so distracted by the song that I would probably miss the update and have to ask for it again, which is a waste of everyone’s time. Plus you have to know your audience and I can think of very few meetings I’ve been in where everyone would be okay with it.

  30. EmmaPoet*

    I think this would be funny once, but I wouldn’t want them making a habit of it or doing it in external meetings.

  31. All Hail Queen Sally*

    I have worked in offices where this would have been fine and offices where it definitely would not have been fine.

  32. J.B.*

    Are you trying to get me to talk about myself? Because I will gladly do so…in SONG FORM!

    (That is from Moana, and OMG Jermaine Clement was the Bowie sounding crab and Taika Waititi directed!)

  33. Not really a Waitress*

    I once had a song for the steps in the procedure we had to teach all new hires before they started related to health code. Then they kept changing the procedure and it didn’t work any more. But people would come up and ask me to sing it and I would!

    There’s nothing wrong with it if it gets the job done

    1. Lizzo*

      Depending on how your brain is wired, songs can be super helpful for actually remembering steps to procedures!

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and that’s why oral histories are or were often passed down the generations as sung poems. Some people with advanced dementia are otherwise non-verbal, but can still sing old favorites if someone plays the first few bars of the song.

  34. Toodle*

    My immediate thought would have been “We need to challenge the other departments to a harmonica-off — we’ve got a ringer!”

  35. Dark Macadamia*

    This reminds me in one of the Little House books when Laura was a teacher amused at the antics of a student (who was the same age as her!!!) then was like “I shall never regain control of my pupils, for I twice smiled at wickedness.” Or the outdated teacher advice not to smile until Thanksgiving. You’re allowed to think this is funny, even if it needs to stop! You haven’t lost the chance to correct him just because it made you laugh.

  36. Waving not Drowning*

    I gave a presentation to my Team once in interpretive dance once (and I’m not a dancer!). It made a very dry training session a bit more interesting, and certainly memorable. I use it as as one of my examples to the interview question around “tell me about a time you have communicated to a diverse group of people” – I say that 4 years later, people still know to come to me for help with xyz program, because of the training session.

  37. Retired (but not really)*

    When I was doing vacation bible school about 30 years ago we learned the books of the Old Testament to what was basically a rap. The rhythm made it so much easier to remember. I can still get over halfway through without wondering what’s next.

  38. Not So NewReader*

    I have a friend who can set things to rap off the cuff.
    Sometimes he will say a couple things that rhyme. “Can you rap that?” And he goes on for a couple dozen lines off the top of his head.
    It’s bad rap. I mean it’s actually not that good. But because I can’t even get close to what he is doing, I think it’s amazing and I end up laughing each time. I wonder what he’d come up with if he spent 5 minutes thinking about it.

    I think I probably would have been a bit miffed initially, but in the end I probably would have been impressed with the employee. Then I’d tell him once is a free pass, but don’t do it again.

  39. Fun in HR*

    Oh, for Pete’s sake! This is not an issue!

    Why do so many managers insist on making the workplace as insufferable as possible? Don’t create problems where there aren’t any.

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