Ideas, Stories and Beer Talks

Being Social at Work

I just finished a consulting job with a foreign client last week. My entire team is still busy with handing over process. Since Monday, I have been involved with meeting and meeting in and out of office.

On Wednesday, I received a complaint that a junior team member has been a “distraction” to a new addition in Accounts Department. Er.. “What did he do?” So, I decided to find out more. The next morning I asked junior on why he popped into Accounts Department so frequently that Accounts Department HOD raised a flag with me.

Junior was visibly uncomfortable when I began my interrogation. So I asked, “how often do you have go to Accounts Department?” and “for what purpose?” Answered, “Sometimes I have to get my claims from Accounts Department.” Oh… “How many times do you file claim in a month?” Total silence. I guess it’s once a month or twice a month. Would that warrant a complaint from head of department. I think not.

So, I investigated further and found out that Accounts Department new recruit made a lot of simple mistakes that ticked off her HOD. Perhaps, the excuse was “there were a lot of distractions and interruptions during work hours.”

While I believe being social with colleagues in a small company is important as part of team building culture, there is a time and place for social interaction. There is this subtle difference between excessive gossiping or “chasing skirts” during work hours and being social in office. In this case, HOD implied that junior was busy “chasing skirt”.

In today’s work environment, there are many channels for social interaction under the superior’s radar in a small company. Internet and smart phones make the bridge to enable such communication channels. As the leader in a small company, one must learn how to sense the changing dynamic in office social interaction. As new member of a small company, one must learn how to adapt interaction norm in the office culture.