Most people would say that their birthday, or Christmas is their favorite day of the year, but for me none of those compare to April first. I’ve written about some of my April Fools day shenanigans on this blog before, and I thought I might share this year’s festivities.
Background: There are a lot of organizational changes that are going on at my job right now, and because of that there is some uncertainty and also some very delicate moves and changes that are happening right now in the group I’m a part of. Delicate…changes…. sounds like a good target for a joke! The changes that I’m referring to go something like this: A group of several managers, including mine, are all changing jobs and moving into each others positions. They are calling it a “manger rotation”, and it is somewhat delicate because the managers are moving in to spots they are not familiar with, and will be relying heavily on the support structure (people in positions like mine) to make the transition smooth. When they first announced this, the effective date was to be April 1st…. How could I resist a setup like that? That’s like tossing a great big cream puff slow pitch right over the plate. You have to expect me to swing for the fences. So I did.
Step one: build your team.
For this joke I enlisted the other 2 supervisors who work with me (Shannon and Terrance). The three of us would be expected to keep the daily business running while the new manager gets up to speed. We all agreed that if we could pull this off, making our manager and director believe we were all leaving the company would have a devastating effect. Fortunately for me, Shannon and Terrance both agreed to join me in the prank. The next step was somewhat critical to making this believable, and that step was to get our HR generalist in on the game.
Step 2: the set up
You can’t just do something on April first and expect to have people believe you. People have their guard up and will smell it coming from a mile away. So you have to start setting some of the wheels in motion before the actual prank. Also, the more people that are involved, the less likely your target is to think that it’s just a joke. To bring these elements together, on March 31st, near the end of the day, I booked a conference room and sent out a meeting request to the 3 supervisors, HR,my boss, and his boss. My boss sent me an instant message asking what the meeting was for, and I made him sweat a little bit. I just said that the supervisors needed to discuss some of the upcoming changes. He seemed uneasy when I didn’t explain everything to him. I usually over communicate, and don’t hold anything back, so being quiet and vague added to the mystery and confusion. I’m sure having HR and his boss on the meeting invite added to the effect.
Step 3: game plan
The supervisors all made sure we were on the same page. We came up with a good cover story as to why we were leaving and came up with a few details so we would have the same story. HR ended up not being able to go to the meeting, but we didn’t let anyone else know that until the meeting started. We printed up and signed a letter of resignation and went into the meeting.
We went into the room as stone faced as we could. I told the boss men that we had some things we needed to discuss, and we would like them to read our letter and then answer any questions. This is what they got:
If all of this was true it would have thrown a major wrench into a lot of different things. It would have messed things up in more ways that I can even explain in this blog post. It wouldn’t be so much about us leaving as how it would effect (stop?) all of the fragile changes that were in the works. Those changes would effect 4-5 departments and potentially over 100 people.
I was hoping for maybe 1-2 mins of them buying the story as the best case. Worst case would be my boss saying “About damn time! We have been trying to figure out how to get rid of you guys.” We had these guys going for about 5 mins! They asked a few questions about who the company was (AFD Technology) and how we thought the team would respond to the mass resignations. All 3 supervisors added to the layers of BS. My boss as quiet as he normally is, and the director you could see was keeping his cool, but pretty upset.
After about 5 mins you could see the light came on for my boss. He had a big smile on his face and said something to the effect of : I just have to ask, it is April first, is this whole thing a joke?” When I admitted that AFD Technology was April Fools Day Tech…. the look of relief on both of their faces was followed by the whole room laughing. We got them! Hook line and sinker.
Chalk up one more unsuccessful April Fools Day!