Exposing cruel and unusual workplaces since 2005.
Tale # 128
Dept: Management Score: 13
Nov 27th 2007 Submitted by Anonymous
“Teambuilding Company - Tyrant President”
A donut I contracted with a teambuilding company - something like Outward Bound, but not at all as professional. This company solely focused on working with companies ranging from Fortune 500s to small local businesses. We would create 1/2 day to 3 days programs for these companies so that they could challenge their groups, sales forces, managers, etc. We would use group challenges and high ropes course events to build team communication, time management and stronger leadership. We helped to build better teams.

The President of the company that I contracted with was not a team player. His introductions to the groups would always include his tales of how he got started and how his employees and company rallyed around each other and made a wonderful team.

But the reality was much different. He hired young people and family members. He dictated his will. He failed to communicate clearly and expected you to know what he was thinking. For instance, an employee - his nephew - was instructed via notes on a napkin to build an outdoor ropes course. One of the challenge events was to be an 8 foot wall between two trees. The nephew went out, built the wall by himself using 2 x 8 boards. When he finished, the President (his Uncle) came out to the property looked at the wall and said "Hmmmmm... we need to raise this entire wall 5 more inches." The man was like the character Vizzini from The Princess Bride.

My personal story is when I was hired to Tech (gopher) for the President's own program. The event was to happen on a Friday in the mountains about 6 hours or more away from our office.

Communication failures - The President left no schedule or agenda so I had to pack his program by calling around to get ideas for what he might want. I found out that one event he wanted was a bosun's chair. I had no idea what that was, but found out that I would need to (1) find a large ditch on the property, (2) rig safely two cables across the ditch, and (3) secure a swing (the bosun's chair) to the cables so that the chair would become the way to transport people over the ditch.

Long story short... I was expected to pack for a program that I had no idea what it would entail, know about some items that I had no idea what they even were, know the layout of property that I had never been to, and make sure that the President was kept informed of all that was going on.

Once I got to the property, I scouted the area at night in the dark. Next morning, in sleet no less, I set everything that I could up except the bosun thing. Then with my hands numb, I went to ask the President when he would be leading his group out to the program. The reply was "We are going to stay in and continue working in the conference room. We will not be going outside." LINK
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