Recently, the director of communications of Taco Bell Corporation was asked to prepare a memo reviewing the company’s training programs and materials. In the memo was a reference to the “pedagogical approach” used by one of the training manuals.
The day after the memo was circulated to members of the executive committee, the author of the memo was summoned to the office of the director of Human Resources and told that the executive vice president wanted him out of the building by noon. When asked for an explanation, the director of human resources told him that the executive vice president didn’t want any “perverts” working for her company.
After further discussion and the use of a dictionary, it was discovered that the executive vice president had mistaken the word “pedagogical”, which means befitting a teacher or education, for the word “pedophilia”, which means something entirely different. Obviously, this shed a new light on the memo whereby the director of human resources promised to take care of the situation vis-à-vis the executive vice president.
Three days later, a memo went out to the entire corporate headquarters directing everyone not to use any words in memos that could not be found in the local Sunday newspaper. Since only about 14 people on the planet know what the word “pedagogical” means in the first place, this is probably a good idea.
When the director of communications quit a month later, he created his resignation memo by pasting together words he cut out of the local Sunday paper.
Just because a person is high on the corporate ladder doesn’t mean they aren’t a couple of slices short of a full loaf. The following quotes are phrases from actual corporate memos recently submitted to a magazine contest to prove it.
General manager, Lykes Lines Shipping – “What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter.”
Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service – “This project is so important, we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it.”
Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation – “Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.”
Legal Affairs Division, Microsoft Corporation – “This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above.”
Director of security, Microsoft Corporation – “As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.”
Business manager, Hallmark Greeting Cards – “If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!”
Transmission supervisor, AT & T Long Lines Division – “We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with employees.”
Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company – “E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should only be used for company business.”
Research & Development supervisor, 3M Corporation – “Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them.”
I once had a manager approach me while I was eating lunch. He looked at my tiny bag of potato chips and asked me if I wanted more of them. Naturally, I said “yes.” He then smashed my bag of potato chips with his fist, turning about six chips into a hundred chips. “There,” he said, then walked away.
Oddly enough, he was one of my favorite managers -- perhaps that’s why I no longer have managers.
Quote for the Day – “There are few things worse in leadership than an overdog with no vision trying to lead underdogs with great vision.” Richie Norton
Bret Burquest is the author of 12 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and an absence of upper management.