It's not easy being the boss. Everyone expects you to act a certain way, you become responsible for a lot of people and the business of the office, and you have to wear a tie. Well, most of the time I have to wear a tie. The hardest thing is how it changes your relationships with your co-workers. They become your employees, instead. And they act differently around you. I used to be I would go out to lunch regularly with my co-workers. Now I can't even get them to eat with me.
Our new director wants us, the managers of our directorate, to put our focus on the employees. One way of doing that, I thought, was to invite employees to join me for lunch in my office and just chew the fat, as well as talk about whatever they want to discuss. I sent out an email to all of my employees (about 65 total) to invite them to lunch each Wednesday. I really thought this would be a good idea. I started to wonder just how many employees I could fit into my office (about 7), and whether I would have to take appointments, or perhaps even move to our much larger conference room, given how popular my idea was going to be. My Office Administrator (OA), who actually came up with the idea, was very excited that I took her suggestion, and she said she would help me organize it.
Last week was the first Wednesday for the big "Lunch Day With The Boss". At the given hour, I expected dozens of employees to start knocking on my door. But no one showed up. I stood outside of my office and looked around. I didn't hear anyone. It was almost as if the entire office decided to go out for lunch. I went back to my desk and started to munch on my sandwich and work on a few documents. All of a sudden, two of my employees, Larry and Karen, knocked on my door and asked if I was still having my open lunch. I invited them in and we had a really nice time. We discussed a lot of different stuff, work related and non, and enjoyed our 30 minutes together. Afterwards, I said they should spread the word about our lunch and see if others wanted to join me. They said they would. I walked out of my office feeling pretty proud of myself, and my OA, Kay, said, "Well.....I guess I should tell you that I told Larry & Karen that they should come in and join you." D'oh!
After yelling at her and saying I wanted this idea to live or die on its own merits, I started walking around the office and visiting various employees, inviting them to join me next Wednesday. Many said they would. So today is "next Wednesday". And nobody showed up.
I've decided that it's really not me, necessarily, that is keeping the employees from joining me for lunch. In fact, I still think it's a good idea. However, the problem is my position. Unfortunately, I think people are just intimidated by the boss, no matter who it is. I can be the nicest or meanest guy around, and it wouldn't make a difference. At least, that's what I think, and I'm sticking with my story.
Maybe if I buy everyone pizzas... Or donuts! Or all-you-can-eat spaghetti....!!!