Sent: October 1
From: Scott, CEO
To: All Employees
Subject: Business Travel Rules
Just want to clarify a few things—btw, I know you’re not all guys and I should probably change that greeting, but hey, I built this company and I’m not going to change now!
The title of this email is “Business Travel Rules”—which, when I read that, I crack myself up because business travel really does rule!! But unfortunately, that’s not what this is about.
I got a big old hand slap from Ms. HR herself, Hannah, about some of the free-forming norms that we use when traveling. First, get things approved before you go, OK? I know, this should be basic, but some of “us” aren’t doing it, so pretty please?
Second, regarding the drinks, rein it in a little, guys!! Even I can’t have six tequila shots both before and after dinner! Kudos to whoever tried to pass that expense report in, and whoa, keep it up, dude, just not on our dime, OK? According to Hannah, we need to start listing the purpose for all of the expenses, including the meals, and “to meet ho’s” apparently is not appropriate (although pretty funny!).
Apparently, we do have an employee handbook, and we all need to read it and sign it as I guess there is some good stuff in there to help keep us from getting sued. Get that into Hannah Banana as soon as you can. She’ll explain anything you don’t understand. We’ve got a few unhappy campers here—especially the women—so we need to see what we can do to make the ladies happy!
Here’s the big bummer: we can’t have booze in the office anymore. I guess we’re being sued by someone who joined one of our after-parties. Not even sure who brought him into the building, but he drove drunk and hit a bunch of parked cars, so his insurance is suing us— and so are some of the owners of the trashed cars. Oh yeah, we can’t have unescorted guests here anymore as well. They all need to pass through the security downstairs. Really sorry about that. I will miss some of our “guests” at the after-work parties!
Oh yeah, we’ve gone through three cleaning companies in the last two months as they refuse to clean up after our parties, and apparently, we now have a mouse problem because of all the food in the cubes. Clean up after yourselves, guys. Remember, yo’ mama doesn’t work here—at least I don’t think so! Ha!
OK, I think those were all the things I was mandated to say, but hey, it’s all good.
Sent: October 2
To: All Employees
Subject: Email from CEO re Business Travel Rules
The board of directors has asked me to follow up on Scott’s email from yesterday regarding our handbooks and business travel rules. Scott is on indefinite sabbatical and Ron, the chairman, will be filling in for him until his return.
Please disregard any suggestive or inappropriate wording in his email. The board would like me to inform you that it does not reflect the values of the company.
You will all be required to sign the employee handbook after reading it by 5:00 p.m. today. If you are out of the office today, you will be required to read and sign it before returning to work.
You will all be required to follow all business travel rules in the future, or you will not be reimbursed. You might also be subject to discipline or termination, based on the policies in our handbook.
Please keep your cubicle clean or, again, you may be subject to discipline according to our new policy, outlined in the handbook.
Lastly, my name is not Hannah Banana and do not address me as such.
LET’S GET REAL
Yes, this may have seemed extreme, but again, it’s a real example. Some leaders never grow up and want to relive their “fun times” in the workplace, much to the dismay of the employees. Although there will always be some who love it, it doesn’t help productivity and it opens you up to all sorts of potential legal trouble.
A good test for determining if you should behave a certain way or implement a specific policy in the workplace is whether or not you could or would want to credibly defend it on network news. We used to say, “Would you like this to be your 60 Minutes moment?” Most of those guys are so old they wouldn’t recognize the workplace of today anyway! So, think network news: Do you want to have to defend a policy that allows drunken parties and illicit behavior? Never say or do what you can’t defend.
The workplace isn’t your college dorm; it’s not your church; it’s not a comedy club; it’s not a fun house or a ballpark. It’s a place of work. It’s up to you, as the leader, to make it conducive to the day-to-day business—not a place to play. This often seems to be forgotten in the need to attract and retain top talent. It’s OK if we bend the rules a little; it will make people happy, and happy employees are productive employees, right? Yes, BUT— that’s a big but—you have to stay in the lanes.
There is just so much that can go wrong when you mix work, alcohol, or drugs—any kind of behavior that should only be done on personal time. You want to protect the company and your employees. You are not running an adult day-care center. If you are, plan on lots of legal bills and frustrations because your liability just went up exponentially.
Provide a safe place for people to work; encourage friend- ships to form, but limit what happens on work time. If you don’t want your employees to be romantically involved with each other, define it. If you’re OK with that, define it. Either way is acceptable as long as you put up the guardrails to protect everyone. Think of yourself as a risk manager. Your people can be one of your biggest areas of risk. Help them stay safe, feel productive, and feel like they belong, and they’ll help the company succeed.