Keeping the Party Alive

I’ve got to tell you – I’m a little mixed about this whole Wells Fargo thing.

People are having a lot of fun right now waggling their fingers at corporate overspending.  The Germans (who have a word for everything – remember Fahrvergnugen?) have a word for this kind of fun:  Schadenfreude, or delighting in somebody else’s misfortune.

And yes, it’s fun to point and laugh at people like John Thain, driving their companies into multibillion-dollar nosedives while buying $1400 wastecans and $35,000 antique toilets.

But Wells Fargo’s supposed sin is quite different.

In case you haven’t heard, they’ve taken quite a flogging in the press and in Congress for planning to fly their top people to Vegas for a big recognition event after receiving bailout money.

Sure, the planned event was pretty lavish – just the latest in a long Wells Fargo tradition that has included wine-tasting trips, helicopter junkets, and even a private Jimmy Buffett concert in the Bahamas for a thousand employees.  The Vegas trip was to include twelve days and nights on the Strip.

Now it’s been called off.

So why are my feelings mixed?  Because I know WHY Wells Fargo was flying their people to Vegas.  They were going to celebrate successes.  They were going to congratulate their most productive people on a job well done.  In short, they were going to do what they need to be doing to keep their employees engaged and their company healthy and productive.

Every time I hear about another company canceling a celebration, I cringe.  Stop celebrating successes and you haven’t a breath of a hope of seeing the other side of this thing.

BUT…is it necessary to go to these extremes?  Of course not.  Isn’t it possible to make people feel appreciated and celebrated without spending like a sailor in port on payday?  Yes, it is.  And that is what Wells Fargo is certainly, quietly doing now that the big party is off.

A Wells spokesperson put it this way:  “Recognition events are still part of our culture.  It’s really important that our team members are still valued and recognized.”

That, my friends, is right on the money.  It’s the kind of attitude that will see a company through the worst of times.

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