Saturday, April 16, 2011

Being the Odd Man Out at Work

I wrote about the peer pressure I felt when I decided to not go on a partially subsidized company "bonding" trip in my A Different Understanding of Budget post a few days ago. It made me a little uncomfortable to have to turn down the opportunity. At the same time, I also wondered if it was a good career decision. Since I had to pay for part of the cost (ski equipment rental, lift tickets, gas, etc.), I felt justified not attending. If cost was not factored into the decision though, I believe not going would have been somewhat of a negative career move.

Why? First of all, it was the inaugural group bonding trip (partially) paid for by the company, and it took some lobbying for it to finally happen, too. Also, from previous posts, you may know that I work for a small startup of less than 15, which made my absence that much more noticeable. During my decision making process, I can't help but wonder if not going would make me seem like I wasn't being a team player.
I know it's better for the sake of group dynamics that everyone shows up, but because I had to pay for a large portion of the trip, I didn't feel so obligated to go. As much as we have a friendly environment at work, I must say that I rather spend time with my own friends and family on the weekend than hang out with people I see for 8 hours a day, 5 times a week. It's especially hard for me to justify when I'm on a tight monthly budget

Moreover, when I found out that almost everyone who was going was bringing their significant other, I didn't feel so bad anymore. I decided that it was probably going to be less of a team bonding experience like it was claimed to be and more of an excuse to individually have fun. I turned out to be right. That's not to say that I don't value strengthening relationships between co-workers. I actually feel like there are better ways to do so. I can't make up for my onetime absence, but I certainly try hard to incorporate myself in other ways. I make it a point to attend every lower cost activity such as potlucks and group dinners, and I make sure to eat lunch with the group as often as I can. In my opinion, it's as effective as a ski trip!

What would you do in this situation? Would you have gone on the trip? What other ways do you incorporate yourself at work?


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