Thursday, August 30, 2012

Team Building

Thursday. Sorry about my tardiness; it has been a little crazy this week. But it is almost Friday. You can make it.

I am off on tomorrow, so there probably won’t be a blog. I am going to Washington DC to see my friend’s son play soccer. He is the captain of the Georgetown soccer team. My wife and I are using this weekend for a four-day getaway. We may try to sneak away to Annapolis or something, too.

But enough about my vacation. College Football starts this week!!!! Are you kidding me? I can hardly stand the wait! It is a new year with brand new expectations, and probably a new year to get disappointed, but it is okay. The Gators were on the mountain top at one point. We will rise again… someday.

I watched The Expendables this week. It is the movie with all the old and new action actors. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Stathom, Dolph Lundren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Lee and Stone Cold Steve Austin are all in it. I went in with very low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was decent. Some of the special effects were terrible and I had to look at Sly Stallone's terrible plastic surgery for two hours, but other than that, it was at least entertaining. Perfect for Netflix.

The topic du jour is the office team-building experience. Just yesterday I put a sign in the staff lounge with the date and what we are doing. I don't make anyone do it; I want it to be fun enough that everyone wants to go. Three Mondays from now (we don't work Mondays), I have time reserved at a gun range. This particular range has a virtual simulation with fake guns. They fire like real guns, but you shoot at a 360 degree screen with bad guys. The virtual simulation has good people that will come up to that you are not supposed to shoot.

We will go at about 9 a.m. and then I will take everyone out to lunch. With the downturn in the economy, we haven't been able to give big raises or even give out much profit sharing, so I want to do something fun that everyone can enjoy.

I have kind of matured in this sense. I used to want to do these huge things, like go to the AGD Annual Meeting & Exhibits with my whole staff. We would spend $15,000 on flying everyone up there, paying for their courses (that some would not show up to), paying for their hotel, paying for all their meals and drinks. And, of course, we missed a couple days of work. Two years later, 3 out of 8 staff members had moved on, grumbling about how little they got in their bonus. (Now, if you are a staff member reading this, I am not talking about you. I am talking about other people on your team. I swear.)

I just don't think all that goes very far. When I did that, I think I did it for me. I wanted all the other dentists to that I was so well that I could bring my whole staff 2,000 miles away from my office. I don't really think they care. I think they want to be appreciated and they want money. I have a staff member who has been here 17 years. She will say, "Do we really have to go to a Christmas party? Why don't you just give us the money?" She is half joking, but kind of serious.

My family is the reason for this topic. I told my wife about the team building day. She told me that I had better take my son because he loves that place. I told her that he is not part of the team. I know that she would want to go too, and I would want her to go, but my staff always tells me that I act differently when I am with my wife. Well, maybe. But that is because I am trying to blend two lives. Maybe I am exaggerating. It is not like I have a work personality and a home personality, but maybe it is a little different.

The girls cut up. They talk about their girls’ nights out and their girl parties. And I may join in the conversation and I may ham it up a bit. The girls do not care to talk about their weekend and stuff like that. Not that they are all huge party people (everyone is married and almost everyone is over 40), but sometimes there is a story worth laughing at. When that talk leaks over into a staff party, it might look unprofessional to outsiders. Am I making sense?

If that talk starts when my wife is around, I get a bit uncomfortable knowing that I have two worlds blending. I can get quiet and the staff think I’m just not the same around my wife. If I get a little crazy with the girls, my wife might say, "That was a bit unboss-like talk in front of the staff, don't you think?”

I think my wife is kind of the same way. I know the staff really like her, but she doesn't know that (as much as I tell her). I don't think she can help feeling like an outsider. As much as she is not, it is just a little uncomfortable. If we go out with the staff, she spends half the time trying to figure out where she fits in.

Please tell me I am not the only one with this issue. What do you guys/gals do? Is it easier for a female dentist who has a male spouse? Does he absolutely want to go to your team building events so he can ham it up with all the ladies? Or does he just tell you to go ahead and go to that party and that he’ll be right here on the couch watching the game if you need him?

What about when the spouse works at the office? I am not one to have the family work at the office. Not for any particular reason, but I have heard of so many bad experiences that I am jaded. But if the wife works at the office, does the team building become easier because then the wife is one of the girls? I can't be the only one that thinks about this stuff.

Tell me about your experiences.


Tammy said...

My best friend is married to a dentist and has been his office manager for decades. They seem to love attending these team building and dental events together. I think the fact she works there does make it easier. My daughter answers phones at their office part-time and says they always get along, too. It's a great personal and professional relationship.

Anonymous said...

I am a wife of a dentist. We both read this blog and enjoy the variety of topics and the different points of view. I absolutely agree with what you wrote about "the team" and team building events. This summer my husband took his team to a Cubs game (we live about 3 hours away from Chicago) and while I would have loved to have gone, and I know he wanted me to go, I told him he needs to have time with just his staff and not me. (I do work for him, but from home, payroll and accounts payable, I quickly learned that I don't like to be in the office.)

He has owned his own practice for almost 6 years now and it has taken me that long to find my comfort zone as the "wife". He and I were married young and I was with him through the whole dental school experience. I've been on his journey when he worked with the government as a dentist, when he was an associate, and when he left that practice and went out on his own. I know the sweat and tears he has put in his work. I feel like I'm his teammate for life and our team bulding activites are at home and on vacations and obviously, loving our children.

His staff is his day to day team. I like (most) of them, but I honestly can't tell how they feel about me. They are always kind and polite, but I do think there is a "gotta be nice to the wife" attitude that prevails. Which is fine with me. And yes, I'm sure they bond with my husband on a level that makes it fun to be at work, that would have me rolling my eyes and saying, "oh geez..."

When we have our annual Christmas dinner, which spouses are invited to, I go. Of course I do, I'm in charge of it. I make it very nice and fun, we have games and great prizes and none of the staff has to do any of the organizing because I take care of it all. But all the other team building activities are only for the actual TEAM, the dentist and his staff.

jason said...

enjoyed "Getting Organized"


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