Constructing the Ping Pong Table (and other menial tasks)

Posted In: The Office
Posted On: 6/27/2017

My company just bought a ping pong table for our office and I learned there is a direct correlation between low price and high degree of difficulty of construction.  Well, actually, I didn't learn it first hand, but instead by observing the diligent efforts of one of our amazing summer interns.  Who would have guessed that a ping pong table required so many screws?

At the same time, another intern was busy stuffing boxes with tee-shirts and coupons as part of a marketing effort targeted at media outlets.  The boxes needed to be put together perfectly as they would be the first contact that a publication would have with our brand.

I jokingly said to them, “These projects will be classified as complex problem solving when you describe your position in a future job interview!”

As they both cheerfully conducted the tasks in front of them, I thought about what they were really doing for our company today and how they were preparing for their future full time jobs:  they were being team players

What an important life and career skill: being a team player.

Since that interaction, I have been thinking about all the attributes that I look for in my team members:  work ethic, intellectual curiosity, personal leadership, drive for results, team player.  And, sure, I would love every team member to have every one of those characteristics.  But when I think about what characteristic creates a culture where people want to work, it has to be: team player. 

Every business has stuff that needs to be done, stuff that no one really wants to do.  Yet, somehow, in the best performing teams, that stuff just gets done.  And whether you are the controller who puts the stamps on the envelopes (not in her job description) or the operations VP who puts together the Ikea bookshelves (not in his job description) or the marketing director who is known by name at FedEx (not in her job description), somehow it all gets done because every person is part of something bigger than just them:  they are part of a TEAM.

For anyone reading this who is making copies or cleaning out the break room coffee pot or making sure there is toilet paper in the bathroom, thanks for taking one for the TEAM.

Can’t wait for the first ping pong game and the first media mention!