Being inspired, maybe – 38

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:



And, then, the words:



I'm sure the person in HR who came up with the idea of having a Management Bonding Camp didn't quite think through the possibilities of thrusting a group of self-serving, egotistical, and utterly ambitious junior executives, would throw up.
Particularly when there was a plum promotion to go to the most successful candidate.
It sounded to me, after a quick scan of the advertising for the Rapport Building establishment, like we would be using wilderness training as a metaphor to help bring diverse groups together in a single goal.
Survival.
And the question, at the end of the document, posed the question: “Was it any different out in the wilderness as it is in the corporate jungle?”
On paper, at least, it sounded interesting.

Let me say this first.  I think I was only one of a very few whose ambition didn't exceed his or her capabilities.
I'd received the memo from HR about my place on the weeklong 'adventure' with utter disdain.
My counterpart over in Logistics had also received the letter and viewed it with equal disdain.  I discovered this when a group of us, who went to morning and afternoon tea together in the middle management tearoom, the subject was broached by several of them.
The following morning where our concerns had been derided, and, at her bidding, we sat at a different table.
For several minutes we watched them.  The conversation was animated, but not for the reasons many would think.  Rivalries were born, cracks in friendships between people who had hitherto been friends were starting to appear.
I suspect it was having the exact opposite effect than was expected.
“You hear what I heard?”
There was a rumor mill, and a grapevine, one tossing odd truths about with individual commentary, the other perhaps another management tool to assess the junior staff.
One truth, there was a trained psychologist working for HR.  Why we didn’t know, but you could see his hand in the training camp.  My qualifications, what I didn’t embellish my resume with, included psychology.
Another ‘truth’, that one of the Director’s sons was being groomed for a management position, the same that was expected to be awarded after the camp to one of us.
“I did.  How true do you think it is?”
“If it is, it’s the first time, but, sadly, there have been changes in management, and some say not for the better.”
We’d talked about other opportunities elsewhere before, but not the elephant in the room, what was going on between us.  I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to push it.  She’d been burned before and was wary.  Perhaps apart, it might take a turn for the better.
“Then I’m sure we’ll soon find out, one way or another.”

We all took a 52 seat coach, provided by the company, all twenty of us, and several HR observers, including the shrink.
They sat together down the front, and it was not hard to see Larry, the protégé, sitting right behind them.
Francis and I sat down the back, avoiding the others.  They could draw their own conclusions.  There were groups sitting together, alliances being formed, enemies being identified, strategies being formulated.
Conversations were muted and secretive.
Francis was one of five females invited.  All of them knew they didn’t have a chance at the role being offered and were along for the need to look like the company was observing gender equality.  It was another reason why Francis wanted to leave.
I hadn’t realized until now that she was very athletic, a hiker, and on various weekends, a mountain biker.  I suspect there was a bit of climbing to go with that.
And, since we were sharing confessions about ourselves, I told her I’d been in the Army once, and been on something similar, with far more intensity,. And had luckily made it to the finish line, alive, and with more than my pride wounded.  No one had told us they would be using live ammunition.
She didn’t seem surprised.  In fact, all she said, rather cryptically, was we’d make a good team.

The helicopter, big enough to fit a platoon of soldiers and their kit, took us to the drop zone, a clearing somewhere in the middle of ten thousand acres of bush, scrub, rivers, caves, and wildlife.
We had three days to find our way home, rather cryptically lying south by southwest from our current position.
Everyone had a compass. 
Everyone had rations for a day and a half, including water for a day. There were plenty of streams and a river.  In our kit there were the means to use the land to provide the rest of our food.
HR would be observing us from back at the camp, apparently through remote CCTV.  A good reason for three days of living it up on the company expense account while we stumbled around in the dark.
It was our choice to work together, which was I thought the option HR was expecting, on our own, or in groups.  They were looking for leadership prospects.
I laughed when I heard that, and the psychologist gave me a very disgusted look.
Then they all climbed back aboard the helicopter and we all watched it till it disappeared, back the way it came. 

Then the fun began.

© Charles Heath 2019


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