Friday, August 27, 2010

A company farewell party

The last day I was with my company in Malaysia, my boss brought me and my coworker to a private club to enjoy a delectable buffet lunch.

One week before I left my company in the USA, my managers organized a farewell lunch with our team members. They also offered me a photo album with my name carved on the front page. All these were paid by the company.

Things are different in France. Most of the time the person who is quitting will organize a farewell party (pot de départ) in the company pantry or meeting room, he or she will bring in some drinks and snacks. The coworkers will then start "an envelope" to collect some money among themselves and use the money to buy something for the person leaving.

I had the opportunity to participate some of the farewell parties and contributed to the envelope. This time, it was for my manager's manager, someone with whom I worked directly with and someone whom I admired. Let's call her C here. I was heavyhearted to learn that I would no longer working with her. C decided to become a school teacher and, envisaging to have time for herself, for example taking adult piano lessons.

This time around, I was the one started the envelope. I sent an email to the mailing list (by first removing C) and informed them where they could contribute their part. I suggested everyone brings in a family photos but nobody replied. Later I found out from a coworker that a family photo is private and she didn't feel like giving it to a manager. Well, after talking with many people outside the team, I figured we could take a team photo as a sentimental souvenir. I felt that our team members were not motivated, so I shared this idea to another manager. With his support, I conveyed the message to everyone and I got one pitiful reply out of 100 people. To diverse C we asked a manager to set up a meeting with her during the time we were taking the photos. I was afraid we wouldn't have enough people showed up, but to my surprise, more than 40 people turned up. At right at that moment, C arrived with her car seeing all of us gathered in the parking lot. Well, there go the surprise!

Even though I worked with C for more than 2 years, I realized I do not know her well outside of the work context, thus having a hard time figure out what presents to buy for her. Eventually we talked to her husband and found out that she wanted a piano. Well, a piano was way out of our budget so we bought her a piano bench (tabouret piano in French, a new word I learnt). With everyone's contribution, besides the piano chair, we got her a Hello Kitty pencil box with some pens, two team photos and a Yves Rocher gift card (for facial, massage...).

C, all the best to your future endeavors. Bonne continuation!

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