Archive for February 4th, 2009

Corporate Coat Check Check

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

As you probably know, corporations are set up like pyramids with some fierce competition for the decreasing number of slots on the way to the top. Young executives are evaluated by their expertise, their ability to work with Senior Management, their evaluations by peers and co-workers, and even the appropriateness of their spouses.  Although much of this testing goes on in the different regions and corporate headquarters, some of it is discreetly conducted at business dinners and even corporate Christmas parties.

Last year, a large Christmas party was hosted by the Chief Executive Officer of a Fortune 500 company at a ritzy country club in a major city. It was announced that the CEO would be late but the guests should enjoy the party and he hoped to arrive later.

Upon arriving at the grand entrance, valets welcomed the guests and drove away their cars to be parked. A uniformed doorman opened the door and gestured to the coat check room where a smiling butler took their wraps, welcomed them BY NAME, and indicated where they should enter the grand ballroom.

Once inside, the guests were treated to champagne, hor d’oerves, and a nationally-known string ensemble. Of course, dinner was magnificent and served on the finest china and in expensive crystal. Later, after desserts and coffee were served, the President of the company announced the CEO had arrived and would like to say a few words.

As the CEO came to the podium from a kitchen entrance, there were murmurs from the guests. The murmurs and whispering grew louder as the CEO paused at the microphone and pulled from his face, his theatrical mustache! He smiled.

“Hello…..……again,” he said. “You may recognize me as the CEO of ______ but also as the butler who took your wraps this evening. It was quite an eye-opening experience for me.”

“Some of you tossed your coats and scarves at me like I was a Medieval servant. Others impatiently drummed your fingers on the counter obviously annoyed that I took so long under difficult circumstances.”

“But I’m proud to say seven of you looked me in the eye, asked me how my night was going, and treated me like a real human being.” (PA– USE)

“_______ is a company which was made successful by our customers – the “little” guy – the “average Joe”. These ‘little people’ are the hope for our future. How you treat them is paramount to our success.”

“To that end, next week I will invite seven of you to (headquarters) to discuss the direction of our company and your roles in it. Congratulations. About two or three dozen of you will be re-evaluated to see what we can salvage from our investment in you. And eleven of you will be seeking employment elsewhere – Good luck.

Enjoy the rest of the evening.”

I’m told at least a half-dozen couples immediately stood up and left the party.