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October 19, 2006 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me prevent my Pointy Headed Boss from implementing a daily required karaoke session. Theres definatly

Ok.. Well my boss has it set in his head that we need to do some daily activity at some point in the day to boost morale. His current idea consists of MAKING everyone in my office sing a song together.
Words cannot express how horrible this sounds to me.
So what can I counter propose as a fun (to everyone, even introverts) activity we can all do for 5-10 minutes a day.
I have been searching google on team building activities, but I think this is more of a attitude adjuster then team building..
I wish I could convince him how much fun a 10 minuite networked game of GTA would be, but alas, I'm the only gamer..
posted by Jonsnews to Work & Money (63 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about some quick stretches or yoga?
posted by gokart4xmas at 10:55 AM on October 19, 2006

Dude, I'd look for a new job.
posted by SpecialK at 10:57 AM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Good idea with the quick stretches and moving around. You can even research it and sell it to him with the added ergonomics benefits.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2006

Beer-thirty is a perennial favorite. Probably wouldn't go over well in your workplace though.
posted by matildaben at 11:00 AM on October 19, 2006

Agree with SpecialK. If this guy is your boss, he is a moron and you need another boss.

Or, suggest that you need to man the phones while everyone else is singing. 5 minutes of an online game together?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:04 AM on October 19, 2006

Nothing builds morale like shooting coworkers in Call of Duty 2.
posted by xmutex at 11:12 AM on October 19, 2006 [3 favorites]

If my boss tried to make me do this I would quit on the spot. I'm dead serious. The whole concept of team building makes me want to vomit to begin with. This takes it way to far.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:14 AM on October 19, 2006

Luckily, instead of that nonsense, we play Call of Duty 2 from 8-9pm every day.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2006

Do something mildly active - walk around the building, or 'office yoga' - at midafternoon, when people are hitting 'the 3 pm slump'.

Any company song crap smacks of official IBM haircuts and companies don't retain people long enough to get away with making them do that sort of silliness.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:23 AM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Solving a crossword as a team can be pretty engaging. 10 minutes may be pushing it for NY Times' crossword (doable if you do have a large office staff, however), but you could also have a go at whatever your city newspaper has. I don't know much about sudoku puzzles, but that would probably work too.

There is an inherent element of collaboration whenever you have more than one person trying to work out a crossword, which should make it easy to pitch to your boss as a good example of a team-building exercise. You could also tell him that this is something that will help the office staff recognize and value each other's individual strengths (e.g., some people will be great at answering sports-related questions while others will be great at European literature), or some happy managerial-speak stuff like that.

As an aside, really, how helpful are answers like "Dude, I would totally quit that job if I were you?" The op has probably contemplated this already and, judging by the fact that his question implies that he is not about to look for a new job, rejected that as an option.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 11:29 AM on October 19, 2006

What about Movie Monday?
posted by chiababe at 11:31 AM on October 19, 2006

Seconding yoga or stretching exercises.

PLEASE let us know what you present and what he says. This is madness. I might quit too. Work expects such a different person than I am anyway, and to add on forced singing every day - well, it would be kill myself or quit, and I'm not ready to die.
posted by agregoli at 11:34 AM on October 19, 2006

Ask if he knows who "Grass Valley Greg" is. If he doesn't, send him this link.

On the other hand, your idea for a networked game is great! I'd probably try and find something a little less "complex" than GTA but overall, great idea. We did this at my old place of employment and it worked wonders for morale. Cross-bowing Sheila from Accounts Receivable, in the face really put a skip in my step.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:39 AM on October 19, 2006

Dissenting opinion: This could be kind of cool if you pick the right song. Just imagine the whole company linking arms and singing You'll Never Walk Alone. Brings a tear to me eye, it does.
posted by timeistight at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2006

Many Japanese companies practice company-wide daily calisthenics.
posted by porpoise at 12:05 PM on October 19, 2006

well if team building is what your boss is after, perhaps you could suggest that the team come up with the activities as the first "team building exercise". Other suggestions would be that the coordinator of these sessions rotates so yeah, once in awhile, you'll do the awful sing along, but hopefully not too often.

What do your co-workers think about the bosses' plan? If you have others that also dislike it, then it will be easier to sow seeds of doubt with him.
posted by mmascolino at 12:06 PM on October 19, 2006

Instead of looking for 'team building' I think what you're looking for fall into the category of "icebreakers".

That said, the activity should be something that relates to what the company does. If you work in the music industry, maybe singing does make sense. If you work in publishing, the crossword puzzle thing makes sense. What is it that the people where you work actually DO?

P.S. Yoga could be incredibly awkward/embarrassing for employees with body image issues.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 12:11 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Ping Pong?
posted by k8t at 12:13 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Doing this will build a team alright.....against this boss.

I'd recommend just offering up a food break. Bring in snacks & drinks and let people chill out and talk for a bit every day. Kind of like a preschool cookie time. People would want that way more than any organised activity.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:25 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Unreal Tournament, with co-worker skins.
posted by Deep Dish at 12:31 PM on October 19, 2006

Foam weapon combat. Pound the crap out of your boss on company time.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: *headdesk*

what do bosses think? that people like teambuilding bullshit? no one does. ever.

my suggestions:
nothing that involves anything where people could be embarassed (singing, jumping jacks, etc)

quick card game of some kind

charades or pictionary
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:56 PM on October 19, 2006

I think some form of friendly ungoing game might really do the trick, like maybe break into two teams and play a game of community chess, only making 2 mores per team each day. Or 3 or 4 hands of poker, or an on going game of hang man. I am sure there are games out there that would work. And if your make teams instead of playing individual you build bonds - because they only thing better then trying to beat someone is having people there to help you do it! and I second Pontius's observation about the completely unhelpful comments like "quit your job" and I actually think at least your boss is TRYING to do something, instead of having everyone stew in misery. Kudos to him for the effort, now come up with an improvement on his idea and you'll get kudos from the office as well.
posted by crewshell at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2006

Send him an anonymous email suggesting that if he does this, the first words you sing will be "I quit.". Encourage enough of your co-workers to do the same, and he'll get the idea.

Then casually suggest that he takesa small chunk of change from the petty cash and invests it in getting some bagels and fruit delivered on a friday morning. That's a much better investment...
posted by baggers at 1:02 PM on October 19, 2006

Response by poster: Ugh.. Yeah.. I work in one of hte few tech jobs in my area, and I had to spend 3 years on the factory floor to get here..
So quitting isn't such a good idea, with a wife and two kids and few job opportunities around here.

so far the songs suggested are total drek like "honky tonky ba-donk-a-donk" and other rubbish like this. I flat out said I would refuse to participate if we had to sing songs like that, and got called a "stick in the mud", and pointed out I'm not a team player.
It was a group decision in his eyes, as he and two other people in the department decided. Theres myself and 3 others besides.

I think yoga would be interesting, as I have allways wanted to try it, but there are serveral larger people in my office (my self included) which may not want to do that. I rather not make someone else feel the way I am feeling about the current choice.

I would love it if we could do some kind of networked game, but I'm the only "gamer" in the entire office (beyond the scope of our department) and two of the women in my office are older ladies that totally would not even be a little up for this idea. Back in my tech support days we kick each others ass at GTA or UT over the network for 10-20 minutes and that was wonderful. I still look back to those days as my greatest office experience.. Unfortunatly I am the lone nerd in my office world.. I share so little with the people I work with in the realm of interests its not even a little bit funny..

So far I think I may pitch either the Yoga, or crossword puzzles. Any links to some cool networked non-violent games or websites we could multiplay on?
posted by Jonsnews at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2006

It's just a song. Who cares?

Anybody who would quit over this takes themselves, and their jobs, way too seriously.

I'm not saying that it's a great idea, or that I would ever implement it in my workplace... but I've dealt with a million things more obnoxious and difficult than a song.

Sing the fucking song and pretend you like it. if you feel the need to dissent, do so in a really positive manner... by singing the fucking song happily, but perhaps suggesting alternatives in a positive manner.

Actually... the responses in this thread have me considering a mandatory morning song, because I'd be glad to get rid of anybody who would quit over something that trivial.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 1:11 PM on October 19, 2006

Suggest a list of songs, beginning with Nine to Five, moving on to Don't Beat Me Down, then maybe Take This job and Shove It and so on.

Tacos, did it ever occur to you that a lot of people would rather not pretend they can sing, when they know they can't? Why should it be a condition of their employment that they do something they find humiliating?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:16 PM on October 19, 2006

I think an appropriate request for Karaoke night would be Nine Inch Nails, "Closer". Here are the lyrics to get you primed up:

you let me violate you, you let me desecrate you
you let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you
help me I broke apart my insides, help me I’ve got no soul to sell
help me the only thing that works for me, help me get away from myself
I want to fuck you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside
I want to fuck you like an animal
my whole existence is flawed
you get me closer to god
you can have my isolation, you can have the hate that it brings
you can have my absence of faith, you can have my everything
help me tear down my reason, help me its' your sex I can smell
help me you make me perfect, help me become somebody else
I want to fuck you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside
I want to fuck you like an animal
my whole existence is flawed
you get me closer to god

through every forest, above the trees
within my stomach, scraped off my knees
I drink the honey inside your hive
you are the reason I stay alive

posted by JJ86 at 1:21 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Jons, from your follow up post it seems as if your not really listening to any suggestion other then the Yoga, which you indeed already ruled out because of certain people and your coming across a bit selfish here.

So singing is out, ok... no biggy. Think of something EVERYONE would want to do, step outside of the box. You seem to be trying to come up with ideas that YOU would love, how about ideas that would work for everyone even if they aren't really any specific persons FAVORITE idea.

I don't know about you but network games aren't something most people can pick up on in 10 minutes a day, and for those who don't play often getting beat constantly by the real gamer(s) in the office is not going to improve their moral.

The key here is to find something that has broad appeal, even if its not massively appealing to anyone person.

So - maybe "joke time" maybe snack time, maybe chess time, maybe watch 10 minutes of a stand up comedy act, maybe have someone in the office or hell, everyone in the office read the last nights TOP ten list from David. Some ongoing game of Hide the post it note that entiles the finder to an extra 20 minute break, be creative - non traditional and dont be scared to step outside of the box a bit.
posted by crewshell at 1:24 PM on October 19, 2006

I suggest a 5 or 10 minute briefing during which the boss or someone else explains what is going on with some aspect of the business at present. It'll make the company as a whole feel more like a team rather than a collection of self-interested groups. Also, and more importantly, nothing boosts morale like knowing what's going on.
posted by teleskiving at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: How about taking a walk as a group? A quick 5-10 minute walk will rev up circulation, be less potentially embarrassing than yoga, allow you guys the chance to chat and build a relationship and give a little mental vacation.

Or what about some of the mental exercises from games like Cranium? Or Trivial Pursuit? You can do a few questions and a day and have a team for a month. Then switch teams for the next month, etc.

Mmascolino has good ideas too.

The concept of saying "we're going to boost morale by embarrassing people" (via karaoke and/or songs) is so wrong. I would honestly start crying because I am the worst singer in the world. How can that possibly be good for the team and morale?
posted by ml98tu at 1:48 PM on October 19, 2006

Actually... the responses in this thread have me considering a mandatory morning song, because I'd be glad to get rid of anybody who would quit over something that trivial.

I simply wouldn't show up for the exercise, nor participate it. There is nothing necessary about it, and no possible way for an employer to spin it as "other tasks as necessary".

If an employer didn't like it, he does, of course, have the option of firing me. I guarantee that I would get benefits and a great story to tell future employers in an interview.

"Why did you leave?"
"I was fired for refusing to participate in morning karaoke."
"Wow. We offer four weeks of vacation. When can you start?"

So, OP, just don't show up for the meeting. Put the ball in your boss' court.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:49 PM on October 19, 2006

OH! I HAVE IT! Ping pong!!
posted by ml98tu at 1:53 PM on October 19, 2006

I don't know that making suggestions the this fellow is the best idea. It might make him notice you as contradicting him. Or worse, he may take your suggestion, mangle it, and then it's your fault.

Let his idea eat itself. You worked to hard for your job to lose it over this.
posted by dragonsi55 at 2:14 PM on October 19, 2006

Volunteer to sing a solo. Make it horrible.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:32 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Puzzle Pirates is a great online game that people of all skill levels can play - and it's cooperative when you are battling other ships - everyone on one team.
posted by agregoli at 2:33 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: How about watching episodes of "The Office"? Seriously, that's what this is, right?

In my experience, nothing builds a team like free food.
posted by chippie at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2006

Go and sing, offkey and as loud as possible. Could this possibly last more than one time?
posted by Joleta at 2:48 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Hangman. Seriously. Low-tech (networked games aren't really interesting for non-gamers) and participatory without being humiliating for even the introverts. And each of you takes a turn leading. This doubles as a humorous way to constructively vent.

For instance, my word would be:

But some of my co-workers would probably choose r-e-l-a-x. Or, s-u-b-c-o-m-m-i-t-t-e-e.
posted by desuetude at 2:51 PM on October 19, 2006

Watching episodes of "The Office" is good, too.
posted by desuetude at 2:52 PM on October 19, 2006

Response by poster: Tacos, I put way too much effort into getting where I am to quit over this, or any other "little" thing. I think in my first post I kind of stated that I wanted to propose something different, not quit. I got a house payments and a family to support. If my boss says "dance", I say "Is samba ok boss?"

Jons, from your follow up post it seems as if your not really listening to any suggestion other then the Yoga, which you indeed already ruled out because of certain people and your coming across a bit selfish here.
Its certainly not that I am "not listening" to any of the suggestions, I haven't ruled out anything. I was just saying I liked the Yoga, and crossword suggestions so far.. Since I was at work it took me about a hour to type my post up between doing other things, so I hadn't read all the comments yet.. If I am coming across as selfish, i completly apologise. I just want to help improve on this idea that by boss is intent on implementing, and trying to make it not completly fucking soul crushing for some of the people. I don't mean to dissent or start a revolt or undermind his authority, I just want to help make it bearable.

Regardless, there are alot of great ideas here. I will mark the ones I am going to propose tommorow as BestAnswer, and I will update tommorow if the PHB accepts my gambit and I get this situation defused (he was buying music on ITunes this afternoon in preparation)
posted by Jonsnews at 2:54 PM on October 19, 2006

3rding ping pong.
Hangman is also good, because it allows varying degrees of participation.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:13 PM on October 19, 2006


Got cha - Well good luck in whatever happens and of course, please post a follow up.

posted by crewshell at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2006

Actually... the responses in this thread have me considering a mandatory morning song, because I'd be glad to get rid of anybody who would quit over something that trivial.

So, tell us, what is life like as a pointy-haired boss?
posted by xmutex at 4:05 PM on October 19, 2006

Response by poster: Ping pong would totally kick ass, but theres not place to set up a table, except like in the lunch room. Does anyone know of any studies putting things like ping pong tables and shit in community areas does for productivity? If I could sell the Upper managent on putting something like this in a area that the entire factory could get to it, that would be a pretty kick ass improvement..
posted by Jonsnews at 4:06 PM on October 19, 2006

I think ping pong tables, free lunch, and fireman poles were standard in all dot coms --- pick a few good ones (like google) as an example to show the boss as a case study.
posted by crewshell at 4:09 PM on October 19, 2006

You (or better yet, everyone) could sing this classic from Team America.
posted by Wet Spot at 4:12 PM on October 19, 2006

My reaction is, great opportunities for subversion, if you get to choose the song. Or even if not -- unlike some, I can certainly carry a tune, but you'd never know it if this was a daily requirement in my work-place. I bet I'd clear the room, and they'd never let me sing again. One technique I'd incorporate (and fail miserably at, painfully) would be that annoying melisma.
posted by Rash at 4:53 PM on October 19, 2006

So, tell us, what is life like as a pointy-haired boss?

It's pretty great.

But seriously, there are lots of valid reasons to quit a job, but this is not one of them. Fortunately the OP realizes that.

If 5 minutes of karaoke was the worst part of my job, I'd be thinking that I have an amazingly great job. And I say that as somebody who despises karaoke.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 5:31 PM on October 19, 2006

Oh, and realize that no matter what group activity you pick, somebody will despise it.

An inflexible or insecure person might hate yoga.
Somebody with a poor vocabulary might hate crosswords.
Somebody with bad hand-eye coordination might hate video games.

I don't see any obvious ways around that issue, given the above suggestions.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2006

I'll offer a dissenting opinon. If I was in your situation, and my boss proposed such a ridiculous thing, and he'd let it be know that he values 'team players'... I wouldn't argue or offer alternative ideas. I'd go along with it. Sing enthusiastically. I bet the karaoke sessions won't last for for more than a week or two before your boss gets busy, and your coworkers get bored. Then come up with an alternative idea.
posted by bchaplin at 5:50 PM on October 19, 2006

>> Send him an anonymous email
>> suggesting that if he does this,
>> the first words you sing will be "I quit.".

Perfect for situations like this.
posted by lampshade at 6:07 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: I agree with SpecialK.

Now, having said that, whenever I've been canvassed about 'team-building', I suggest it take place in a pub. With free beer. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don't, but I think it's worth suggesting.

...and having said that, we do trivia and wordgames here, which arose spontaneously rather than as a top-down mandated activity. Might be worth suggesting.
posted by pompomtom at 6:09 PM on October 19, 2006

I think picking a creatively subversive song would be ideal in this situation. Maybe not Nine Inch Nails, but something like "You're so vain... you probably think this song is about you."
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:36 PM on October 19, 2006

I think picking a creatively subversive song

Not "Take This Job and Shove It"?
posted by pompomtom at 6:59 PM on October 19, 2006

I thought this post was, like, a joke. Or posted by the temp on The Office. That is just ridiculous. Karaoke??? Are you serious?
posted by orangemiles at 7:02 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: Seconding Sammon. We used to do afternoon tea time (3:15), which was great, because 1) tea, 2) cookies, and 3) everyone gets a chance to catch up with what other people are doing.

We only stopped because I think we got a little bored with it/got too busy to do it daily.
posted by fishfucker at 7:04 PM on October 19, 2006

One word: Croquet
posted by occidental at 10:19 PM on October 19, 2006

At my last job my entire floor would rock out to The Final Countdown every Friday at 5:00 PM. I enjoyed it immensely, even though my shift ended at 8:00.

They also had foosball. I didn't play but it was quite popular.

Oh! And Halloween is coming up -- you could do a pumpkin carving contest. We did it by team. Here is my team's submission from last year.
posted by Famous at 12:32 AM on October 20, 2006

Response by poster: To answer a few points/questions:
Sprout the Vulgarian - Our company makes Moulded Plastic Parts for Cars
Anyone that suggested a song = I asked if I could pick a song, and was told it would have to be agree'd on by everyone else, and when I asked, if I had to agree with everyone elses choices I was told no.
Tacos - Oh, and realize that no matter what group activity you pick, somebody will despise it. = I agree. I am also going to suggest that every single person who is asked to particapate has either opt-out, or veto rights, and if we cannot all agree on one, we call it a wash.
orangemiles - Totally not a joke, I wish it was.

quick stretches, yoga, short walk
Solving a crossword, hangman, Trivia or wordgames, charades, pictionary, Cranium, Or Trivial Pursuit
Ping Pong, foosball
A REALLY simple multiplayer game like Puzzle Pirates,
Snack break, tea time
joke time, read a top ten list,
watching episodes of "The Office", 10 minutes of stand up,

Those are the ones that I think may go OK with the people in my office. Not that some of the other suggestions aren't very very good. I would love Nerf Warfare, or a networked game, but I would be the only one enjoying it.
Thanks for all the great advice! I will post if any of the suggestions get accepted!
posted by Jonsnews at 3:13 AM on October 20, 2006

Ten Iriquois Twists?
posted by electroboy at 6:52 AM on October 20, 2006

ANY kind of come-together thing that a boss tries to implement on a daily basis is unlikely to last long. Maybe he can be talked into a weekly activity, instead? That way, it can be different each time; yoga one Wednesday, team crosswords the next, karaoke the Wednesday after that.

Making molded plastic parts for cars makes me think that appropriate activity themes would be some kind of car-race theme, or a three-dimensional puzzle to assemble.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2006

We play Boggle in my department. Once or twice a day, we break for 5 minutes and play a couple of rounds. It's easy to learn, it's a great team activity (gets everyone laughing), a good stress release, and when you've been concentrating hard, it feels like a nice way to 'reset' your brain and go back to your desk feeling refreshed. We're marketing, so we like to think it gets our creative neurons buzzing too, or something.

It's a tradition in our dept that's been passed from team to team over time.
posted by girlgeeknz at 1:13 AM on October 21, 2006

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