I manage a group of people. If you only know me from here and from my Facebook identity, you might find that a hoot. Hysteria notwithstanding, I do manage people. I'm supposed to be a responsible adult, the grown-up in the room.
I've been interviewing lately to fill a new position on my team. It's been interesting, to say the least, because my staff is composed entirely of young men (ah, ya dirty perverts, it's not like that...). I'm faced with trying to find a new employee that has all the requisite skills, and yet won't likely be horribly offended by the rowdy locker room atmosphere of our group.
You're sitting there, wine glass in hand, saying, "Really now, DT. Perhaps you're being a bit dramatic. How bad could it be?"
Well, they're boys. They are crude, rambunctious, politically incorrect, and young. They burp, they fart (well, I do those things too, but we're not talking about me at the moment) and they swear. Sometimes, I let them drink - but only on Friday's after 5pm. The job we do can be very stressful, so we vent. Alot. In strange ways. Like...by shooting Nerf darts at one another, or going on ambushes of other teams, or by sharing completely-inappropriate-to-the-office-but-relevant-to-our-trade humor, or positing completely ridonkulous theories to one another.
Because our trade is male-dominated, the majority of the candidates I've interviewed have been male. But one day, we interviewed a woman. And I had my first frisson of fear...what if the environment offended her? I mean, I'm a manager; I'm supposed to be the adult in the room, I'm supposed to make them "behave". Maybe I'm too laid back (getting your work done? backing up your team? then sure, I'm not going to ride your ass about being fifteen minutes late now and then, or if you have to run an errand). I don't like being a drone, and I don't want to break their spirits. They put on their professional faces when dealing with customers, they should be able to be themselves when they aren't. Or should they?
It's got me to thinking about our world, and grown-ups and work and fun. In the past, an office environment was a staid and dry place. Some still are. Only recently, with companies like Google (http://youtu.be/eFeLKXbnxxg) and Facebook, has that started to change. Even my company, which tries to be a bit of a googlette, has to worry about HR concerns. What if she complains? What if what if what if...what if I'm putting my team members at risk by hiring her?
The decision was easy for me, and I am thankful it didn't hinge on this issue; I had a more qualified candidate to choose. But I will face this dilemma again, and I won't always have an easy out like I did this time. I am left wondering if it's time to put my Nerf gun down, and put on my Boss hat, and start closing down Neverland.