After a previous incident (I'm not at liberty to discuss details of what happened), a new manager was assigned to our team.

To be fun and welcoming, I decided to make a welcome video for our new boss that had some fun clips of the team. Some highlights were:

  • A skydiving trip with a few of us from the office
  • Clips from a comapny party
  • Some hilarious practical jokes that I pulled on coworkers
  • Spliced in movie clips (such as the Matrix and Lord of the Rings)
  • Secret (and slightly embarrassing) recordings I did of some people in the office without them noticing

I thought it was the funniest thing I've ever put together. I knew it was going to be a huge hit with the new boss. But when the movie was played in our first team meeting, it went something like this:

*Movie ends*

*Awkward silence*

New manager: "Hmm...."

*Coworkers all look down and avoid eye contact with me*

New manager: "That must have taken you a long time to make that"

Me: "It sure did."

*Awkward silence*

New manager: "Did you... did you work on that while you were in the office?"

Me: "Well..."

*Longer awkward silence*

New manager: "Let's proceed with the next item on our agenda."

A coworker after the fact pointed out that 85% of the video was just clips of me. And that the jokes were way too raunchy and inappropriate for work.

In hindsight, this was a really stupid thing for me to do. I screwed up royally. I know, so please don't lecture me on how this was a bad idea.

My question: I know I've messed up and given a horrible first impression with my new manager. What's the best way to proceed? Should I apologize to him? Or should I never again mention that video again and just hope he'll recognize my value by my good work output going forward?

  • 6
    Even if it was not a raunchy video why do you think it is appropriate for you to welcome the new boss? Lay low and hope you are not fired. You need to apologize to the people you secretly recorded. – paparazzo Jan 26 '17 at 5:13
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    I'd like to see this video – dan-klasson Jan 26 '17 at 5:36
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    @PeteCon I think copyright breach on this "half-private" video is really the least of OP's worries. I think a case for "fair use" (well, that's the term) can be made here. – Captain Emacs Jan 26 '17 at 6:46
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    Was the video seen by your peers before the meeting? Did they approve all of that? Was the idea of showing it at the first meeting planned or you just came up an said "hey, I have a video to show you!" – BgrWorker Jan 26 '17 at 8:06
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    In case it's not obvious: Those practical jokes that you thought were hilarious? Stop that too. – iayork Jan 27 '17 at 15:40

I think I really understand what you actually tried to do there, although how you approached it was just not the right way, but you already know that.

I think just never mention this again is not the correct way. IMHO it is a highly valuable soft skill to

  1. Know when you messed something up
  2. Admit this, if you need to (e.g. because other people were affected)

I think in your case there were other people affected because you did not just show videos from yourself but also

Secret (and slightly embarrassing) videos from your colleagues.

There are two things you need to do now, at least that is how I see this:

First talk to your manager and apologize for this stupid idea. Explain him that you wanted to make him an easy and nice welcome and that you also wanted to introduce the team but that you know that this was not the correct way, i.e. that this approach you took was a bad idea at all. Maybe you should also explain why you felt it was necessary to do this during working hours, but I am not entirely sure about this.

Second, you need to talk to your team. Especially to the people who were in those embarrassing videos. And you should apologize to your team, because this might not only throw a bad light on you alone, even if everybody clearly stated that you went it alone.

Side note: I do not know how good your team works internally but you need to be aware that you could receive a letter from HR, if one of your coworkers felt bad enough about this to escalate it to HR. In the end you not only made that video with them inside, but you also recorded a video of them secretly. I personally would question if you did more videos than you showed and what else you might have done secretly. But that are just my 2 cents

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    And destroy all that video material, and tell them you did so. – user8036 Jan 26 '17 at 10:34
  1. Do you know what you are apologizing for? If you don't, then your apology doesn't have much if any meaning and you're really apologizing as an empty gesture designed to get the heat off you. Your coworkers and your manager will most likely see through your non-apology. Whether they'll let the matter drop depends very much on whether they want to hurt you.

  2. It looks from your narrative like you consulted no one when you made your video and that the contents of the video was as much an unwelcome surprise to your coworkers as to your boss.

  3. It does trouble me that the fact that you are so far out of touch with the feelings of your office that it never occurred to you that your brain storm was actually a brain fart. You don't seem to be overly concerned that you misjudged your coworkers - should we expect more unilateral brain farts from you in the future? What's done is done and the past can't be changed. If you continue on this unilateral path, the future is going to be scary. For you. It's pretty ominous when you think what you did was funny but no one in the office is laughing. Take the hint.

Issue an apology to everyone including your coworkers. Apologize in particular to your coworkers for your failure to consult them in the making of your video. Say you are truly sorry for making everyone uncomfortable and that you're taking everyone's reaction as a message not to do it again. Say that it was never your intention to offend but that results not intentions are what counts and that the only only result that matters is that you offended and for that, you are deeply sorry. And that you know you won't repeat your mistake because you will be consulting with everyone the next time you will have a brain storm. I am assuming here that you are feeling apologetic.

And one more thing: NEVER take a picture of anyone or videotape anyone in the office without their consent! In fact, HR may already have prohibited taking pictures or videotaping in the office without first checking with HR - the prohibition makes sense if HR had made you sign NDAs and NCAs. In which case, your saga will show no sign of ending until HR has had their conversation with you.


Assuming this is not a troll: I am wondering how one can consider something like this as a welcome to a manager which is a completely unknown quantity as yet.

I realise OP asked not to be told off - but that's not what I am doing; I am suggesting OP needs to re-run their thought which led to such a dramatic error in judgement. A video like that may run with friends, or else, with people one knows very well and for a long time, and then in a bar, after hours, but not in a workplace. Anything that is not clearly above table is practically off-limits in a workplace environment, unless you know the people really well, and even then it is unadvisable, because it is always pushing the edge (and with secret recording, it definitely crossed it - people will certainly behave more carefully around you in future).

OP needs to very clearly delineate to themselves why this was a bad idea and how they got into that situation in the first place to never even come into danger of repeating something like it before even considering to mend things with their manager and their colleagues. Only then any apology has the chance of being effective.

Apart from that, I have no clear opinion whether it is better to:

  1. not mention the event again and behave at maximum professionally level from there onwards, no exceptions.

  2. apologizing, as suggested in the other responses, to the manager and the co-workers. This second option is, in principle, the Right Thing To Do (TM), but the blunder is so severe that letting things just be and hope that time will let them forget this (provided that OP behaves absolutely impeccably from now on) might be the more practicable solution. In any case, in case of apology, any such is probably best done in discretion and separately to each person offended, with the individual offence (i.e. secret recording or not) being apologised for.

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