What do shivering birds in winter, a wet, bedraggled cat after a bath and my new coworker huddled over his desk all have in common? The apparent desire to be far, far away from their current situation.
Joe has successfully stayed off of the radar since he started and with 87 days left to go, he still has a very long orientation period. Our supervisor suggested bringing him into our office with a tiny, temporary desk to hang out, hear our discussions and naturally integrate into the flow of things. A good idea that was quickly shot down with any hope that Joe would learn to love the work or the team.
We were a schizophrenic group. We wanted a man on our team, but we didn’t want a man in our office. We wanted an experienced co-worker, but didn’t want to train him, but wanted him around to give him exposure and opportunities to learn. It was a unanimous decision that our boss struggled to understand.
I tried to explain it in the lamest way possible, “He’ll be bored in here.”
Then, driven by guilt, I went off to be more inclusive.
I peeked into Joe’s office and startled him, he was busy texting and avoiding conversation. There was a blank screen of blue on his computer monitor and a mostly blank pad of paper on his desk with a few scribbles and a doodle along the edge of the paper. He pushed his heavy, black rimmed glasses up on his nose and discreetly slid his phone under his leg without saying anything.
“Hey there, how are things going?” I asked.
He blinked at me with the eyes of a sensitive little bat, just brought out into the light. He did not appreciate this intrusion into whatever it was that he was working on, likely an epic game of Tetris. It was a strange situation, like a cat after a bath, this was an uncomfortable and disagreeable interaction for him, and like a bird in winter, his feathers still weren’t thick enough to protect him from the cold of group dynamics.