Home' Border Enterprise : Enterprise Spring-Summer 2009 Contents 13
outwardly appearing interested while inwardly
wishing your chair was one of those jet-powered
escape seats fighter pilots use. Although you might
imagine taking a sickie or pleading a pressing
workload to get out of attending, these events are
usually compulsory. Your only option is to arrive
on the day, brace yourself and prepare to be
PowerPointed into glazed submission.
And you'd better hope your tolerance for
PowerPoint is high. Most corporate training
sessions follow a simple three-step format
guaranteed to induce catatonia in any audience:
put up a lengthy, completely text-based slide.
Read it aloud in full as though all present are
STAFF development is something many
modern workplaces take very seriously.
Almost every large employer spends
huge amounts of time and money
planning, producing and reviewing
ways to maximise employee performance.
Unfortunately, staff often don't share this
enthusiasm for their own improvement. In most
workplaces, a Staff Training Day, declared in an
overly chirpy email from HR, is accorded the same
sort of response as a declaration that, for health
reasons, only decaf coffee will be allowed on the
Despite the rhetoric, the only training at most
staff development days is in the subtle art of
The uninspiring presentation of most training
days can belie the usefulness of the actual content.
Somewhere, buried in the droning torrent of
seeming irrelevance, will be a piece of information
you really should know. A couple of slides will
relate to how to replace the photocopier toner,
where the new stationery cupboard is or perhaps
which exit to take when your office is burning
down. As almost everyone is daydreaming about
the weekend, expect to see most of your co-
workers running into the caretaker's cupboard next
time the fire alarm goes off.
On the positive side, there are two consolations
for sitting through all this. Firstly, the free lunch,
which by tradition must be staggeringly miserly or
breathtakingly lavish. You will spend the afternoon
either in near mutiny due to the stinginess of your
employer or in near slumber from the quantities of
free food you've crammed yourself with.
Whatever the size of your meal, you'll need to
eat it quickly. Your lunch break will be half its usual
length because, as your trainer cheerily puts it: "We
have so much to get through!" For some reason,
this is seen as a positive thing, rather than a failure
to be concise.
Secondly, while you're training, you will have
access to unlimited amounts of instant coffee.
Now is the time to test your caffeine tolerance and
imbibe until your heart palpitates and your hands
shake. A pleasant side effect of this is that while
those training you may lack imagination, your
over-caffeinated mind will happily pursue all of your
wildest and craziest daydreams.
So when the going gets slow at your next training
day, you know what to do. Throw back a stiff
instant coffee. Reach down and pull the imaginary
red lever next to your chair. Blast out through the
conference-room roof in a cloud of make-believe
smoke, deploy your parachute without worrying
what colour it is and gently float to earth in a
nearby park. Snap back to reality. Repeat.
Scott Steensma is a freelance writer for the
Sydney Morning Herald.
There is precious little point to PowerPoint,
writes a patently peeved SCOTT STEENSMA
TRAINING DAY TORTURE
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