Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Workplace Drama - "The Dog and Pony Show"

   The company I work for is a multi-national corporation which, while it may not be that well known in the States, it's a big player overseas. Twice a year, the big-shots from the various business divisions globally convene for a week-long series of manager's meetings.This latest round of meetings is being hosted this week here in Baltimore.

   As I've mentioned before in this blog, I work in Research and Development, working on projects in inorganic chemistry and metallurgy. It's not a suit and tie job. It's hard core chemistry; it can be messy sometimes, and while we do a decent job of trying to keep things clean, things are not going to be anywhere near spotless as long as we are actually working. Since a lot of the upper management types who attend these manager's meetings started off as chemists or chemical engineers, they are well aware (or should be) of this fact. However, this didn't stop our bosses from wanting to shut down our labs Friday to clean everything top to bottom, hide away any equipment that didn't look shiny and new, and stash samples of materials being worked on in with our chemical inventory, and then stand around dressed all neat and pretty with our hands in our pockets when the managers were due to tour the place. I've always hated these dog and pony shows that put lab workers in a false light. We do hard core chemistry; it's not a sterile environment, messes will be made. That's the reality of the job, why try to pretend otherwise?

  So, as scheduled, the big wigs showed up to take a tour. The big wig we were most panicky and frazzled about was the head of Global Research (a chemical engineer by training) who decides on our budget and our employment status, led the pack of managers as he was shown our main lab. And as he stopped and surveyed the quiet, squeaky clean and polished surroundings, the first thing out of his mouth was, "Wow, it's so clean here, I was hoping to see some action. Isn't anybody doing any work today?" Sigh...maybe he'll come back tomorrow and see some WORK and not a PERFOMANCE...


  1. I would kinda prefer them touring a clean lab. I hate people looking over me while I'm working but hey, what do I know :)

  2. A clean lab is better for touring, unless somebody wants to ask you a bunch of questions about details of what you do, then it helps to have something running so you can show them what you're talking about. There's positives and negatives to each way of doing it...