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The pain and perils of staff training

Think you're having a trying day?

Spare a thought for the poor sap in Gloucestershire who presumed he had hit a career low when he was forced to dress in a sumo suit and wrestle a colleague, only for things to worsen when he bounced off his workmate with such force that he knocked himself out and was hospitalised with head injuries. I believe that's what the kids would call #BadDayatTheOffice.

As anyone who has been through the pain of team bonding will know, the idea is that mutual degradation will forge strong relationships between colleagues. The reality is that you spend the rest of your career avoiding eye contact with those who witnessed your dodgy Wonder Woman impression.

In my own brief experience of the corporate world I underwent a six-week initial training and team-building exercise, the memory of which I have never successfully managed to suppress. One of the japes involved us standing on A4 pieces of card which had been arranged on the floor to make a "raft".

The individual leading the systematic humiliation slowly removed pieces of card/raft forcing us to huddle ever closer to our new colleagues. By the time we got down to a handful of card pieces, the more diminutive in the group were shinning up the torsos of sturdier colleagues in true tree monkey style in a bid to stay on the raft. From this exercise we were quickly able to ascertain who had the most dubious personal hygiene and who was heavier than they looked.

Once fully trained, we were ready to be presented to our new colleagues - all 300 of them - in the staff canteen at lunchtime. For our official induction, we had been tasked with penning a song extolling the virtues of the company to the tune of Otis Reading's Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. As we stood poised to sing a cappella in front of a sea of tittering faces, I spotted a face in the crowd I recognised from the outside world and my mortification was complete. The opening bars of that song can still give me palpitations.

Still, could be worse. I know a fellow who did commission-only door-to-door sales. He and his colleagues would be driven by their boss to some far flung housing estate and in front of an audience of hostile youths be made to do a team cuddling, air-punching chant in the street before being abandoned to their individual fates for 12 hours.

So anyway. If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which animal would you be?

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