The Thick Office Politics of Thin Mints

The Thick Office Politics of Thin Mints

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What do you do when Bob, your cubicle neighbor, brings in Ashley, his daughter, carrying a puppy dog pout, invoice sheet and cookie order form? She wants to know if you'd rather have the Caramel deLites or the "Do-si-dos." You say you'd rather just stick with the Thin Mints, the perennial best- seller? Well, of course you would. That's a given. Ashley wants to know what you'd like for your second box.

Uh oh. You forgot that Susan, the receptionist, has a cookie sign up sheet on her desk at the front door. Don't even bother trying to explain the ethical and personal relationship questions of why you'd buy from Bob's daughter but not Susan's. You did know that they are having an inter-office competition, didn't you? Along with Carl down the hall, whose daughter, Amanda, sold more than 1,000 boxes last year and got her picture in the local newspaper. But don't worry about that. There are bigger concerns.

What happens when Jerry, your boss, posts his daughter's cookie order invoice outside his door? Well, duh. You buy some more cookies. Are you an idiot? A little face time with Jerry, some chuckling over "kids these days" and some points for supporting his daughter's troop. Who wants to pass up a chance like that?

It's just that some people feel a certain pressure when the boss' cookie shop opens. You don't think Jerry, Susan or Carl will be miffed if you don't buy a box this year? Try again.

You soon find yourself rationalizing that freezer full of cookies with the fact that the process teaches young girls about responsibility, planning and confidence. Yes, it is true that selling cookies allows these young girls to interact with the public and raise money for worthwhile causes. But if you think about it, unless Ashley is there in the office with her cute pouty face, it's really the parents selling for their kids.

Because fundraisers inevitably cause corporate ladder and financial pressures on employees, some companies are starting to enforce a strict "no solicitations" policy. That way, they objectively don't have to explain why one fundraiser is fine while another is inappropriate.

According to Bill Truesdell, president of Management Advantage Inc., many more people these days are asking their HR department to adopt a "no solicitations" policy in their office. That way, they don't make little Ashley cry, Susan the receptionist doesn't accidentally mis-route their calls because she lost the inter-office competition and they earn points with Jerry for stellar reports, not a four-year supply of Thin Mints.