Pick Me…Ohh Ohh Pick Me!

I was not one of those kids who was picked first on the playground nor was I the one who was picked last.  Average performer…story of my life.  I can distinctly recall, though, feeling a pit in my stomach watching those last two kids waiting to be picked – each hoping they wouldn’t be the last.  And then the look of disappointment, rejection, and confidence drain from that last kid.  Tough times on the playground.  But I suppose it’s a good lesson for later in life.  One can’t always be first, and sometimes you’ll be last. 

Opportunities to invite, include, or exclude abound in the workplace.  Whether it’s a conference call, a meeting, a business trip, a lunch, a dinner, or a boondoggle.  Someone is always going to feel left out.  Still happens to me – there’s a meeting going on right now with my executive peers in another city and I wasn’t invited.  That’s cool, though.  I understand why I’m not there and don’t expect someone to justify my absence.  Yes, I’m a big boy now.  None the less, I have some thoughts on inclusion in the workplace.

  • You can’t include every one all the time.  And it is nearly impossible to avoid bruised feelings.
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the pot and the same applies to too many business people at the conference table.
  • HOWEVER…when in doubt, over-include.
  • If someone is excluded, take the time to debrief them off-line after it’s all over.  That way they won’t feel like the “secret society” continues.
  • If you’re the one excluded, let it go.  If it eventually becomes a habit, talk with your boss (not your peers.) If it continues, start looking for another job.
  • If you’re one of those included and you go out of your way to rub it someone else’s face and flaunt your attendance like you’re something special, get a grip…you’re nothing but an asshole. (My Mom taught me never to talk with other people about parties you were invited to unless those people tell you specifically that they were invited too).

The more I think about it, there are a lot of things we could learn from our days on the playground that would help us in the workplace.  As it relates to inclusion, just try to be a bit more thoughtful about it.

4 Responses to Pick Me…Ohh Ohh Pick Me!
  1. thehrd
    March 4, 2010 | 4:46 am

    Great post and very true. I think we all remember the feeling in our stomach at school when thwy were picking the team. Just reading about it makes me associate. So why do we think it is any different at work? Maybe because then it was about being liked and now it SHOULD be about what value we add.

    That said, so many decisions in organisations are based more around emotional reactions later dressed up with seeming logic than they are rational business based thought processes.

    I guess some things never change.

  2. Sharlyn Lauby
    March 5, 2010 | 12:32 pm

    Great post. It’s so easy to focus on being one of the cool kids that you miss out on other opportunities. There have been plenty of times when I was glad not to be included. It does take some getting used to. But in the end, it was the best thing for me.

  3. Charlie Judy
    March 5, 2010 | 1:58 pm

    you bring a whole new element into it. if there are people at work who are inviting people or excluding people based on who they like or don’t like, we need to get rid of those people…fast!

  4. Charlie Judy
    March 5, 2010 | 2:00 pm

    so true. it’s nice not to feel like you have to be part of everything. we keep tripping all over each other. let people do what they are there to do and ultimately they’ll do the same for you. thanks, sharlyn!

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