Rutland, VT – Jenna Barstow joined the firm as a Marketing Manager in April. It’s annual review time, so she’s thinking about how she is going to rate and speak about all of the employees on her team. She’s got a good handle on most of the team except for one employee everyone calls ‘Corndog.’
“I’ve just always called him Corndog too,” says Barstow. “I guess it sort of seems strange now but not at the time. Everyone else just called him Corndog so I decided to fall in line with that. I didn’t want to upset the team when I first arrived or have them think I was the ‘not fun’ boss. I pulled up his annual review form the other day and realized that I don’t even know what his name is. Much like the rest of the team, his work is below average. I can’t help but think that this nickname may give me some more insight into giving him feedback and coaching him next year.”
Jenna set off on a course to ask around the office about Corndog. She had a little extra pep in her step, as she knew that there had to be some really good story behind all of this. Barstow became puzzled and more intrigued as she pulled team members into her office. “I just call him Corndog because everyone else does,” volunteered one of the new team members. “I just say it because it’s easy to remember. And he kind of looks like a corn dog if you really look closely at him,” commented one of his cube mates. Another senior marketing associate told an extravagant story about how he was at a party with Corndog four years ago and he ate 47 corn dogs as part of an impromptu eating contest. None of these explanations were true. Barstow soon realized she not only had a low performing team but also had a bunch of liars reporting to her. She needed to go to the source.
“Corndog, thank you for coming to see me,” started Barstow. “I’ve been working on your annual review. When I got to the name portion of the form, I realized I don’t even know your real name. I know it sounds silly but I need your real name and I’m very curious why everyone calls you Corndog.” “That is my name,” Corndog quickly responded. “I don’t really like to talk about my old name but I hated it so I changed it to Corndog. One name. Like Madonna or Prince. There’s not much more to the story than that.” “You changed your name to Corndog on a whim?” asked an even further troubled Barstow. “Why would you do that?” Corndog looked down at the ground to compose himself, as the anger was building inside of him. With a calm but incredulous look, Corndog lifted his head and answered. “What else would I have changed it to? Larry?”
The two stared deep into each other’s eyes for about 10 seconds before silently parting ways. No one has spoken about the subject since.