I learned how people perceive who sits where and what it means to them.
They even come up with naming conventions for it.
So where (some) of the managers sit, that’s called “The White House.”
If you turn around and go towards the other end of the building, that’s called, “downtown.”
And crossing the hallway, past the elevators, that is called, “across the bridge,”
Clearly, the culture of each of these areas within the very same building can be completely different–some may be upbeat, friendly, and productive, and others not so much so or even the opposite with the folks running and screaming, “Get me outta here!”
The message…where people sit and even who sits next to whom is a big deal.
Where you sit can indicate power, alliances, what is getting done, and at the other extreme who is on “the outs.”
Like in the movie, Office Space, when the guy with the red stapler is moved with his desk and all into the caverns of the building–basically to rot because management didn’t quite like him.
Often people who are in disfavor aren’t fired, they are simply put in cherem–excommunicated–and to die a slow and painful career and emotional death.
On the other hand, those who are the shining stars of the organization get moved to a higher floor, with a better view, possibly a corner office, and near the boss–aha, you’re needed!
At work, I suggested a little enterprise architecture challenge to look at the three office areas: White House, Downtown, and Across the Bridge and to define the culture of these–what they are and also what do we want them to be for the people and how can we change to get there.
No one should feel alienated, “less than” (as human beings), or put out to pasture (if they can be and want to be salvaged).
The messages that are sent to people by assigning fancy titles, fatter paychecks, providing bigger and more luxuriously adorned offices is a form of performance management (reward and punishment)–but remember that those downtown or across the bridge–who may feel underutilized and not valued in the organization, may become the aggrieved marauding mobs that want to take the proverbial “kings head.”
While there are differences in where people are at in their careers and where they sit, generally-speaking advancement and mobility should always be based clearly on fairness, equal opportunity, and respect and dignity for all people regardless of race, color, religion, sex, etc. No one should be sitting in the leaky basement!
Also, sometimes it really is just “the luck of the draw” where people end up–truly–where G-d provides the right opportunity, you have the right skill set, those involved have the right personalities “to click”, and it’s at the right time “to work out.”.
What was also interesting about this to me is that one’s persons White House is another person’s downtown or across the bridge–it’s all relative and we are all part of the carnivorous food chain.
Just to share something personal for me at work is that one thing that I do when setting up a meeting is that I never put in the meeting notice that the location is my office, but rather, I put it down as “my space,” because some people don’t have offices, but rather cubes, and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad.
In the end, it’s all G-d’s space! 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)