Dave Starling was sitting quietly at his desk working on some code for the new system with Chris Tackle. It was made slightly more difficult than it needed to be because Chris refused to take off his headphones. They were adding support for two factor authentication so it would send a one-off special code by SMS whenever anyone tried to login to the application. Chris was mainly working on this part, while Dave was adding in the exclusions so neither him, nor his team, would have to go through this when they used the system.
Flux Larson appeared at Dave’s side.
“Time to justify your existence, Dave.”
“You’ve got a management task that you don’t want to do?”
“Exactly. Personal Score Cards. They are due today.”
“Already done it. Sent it to you last night.”
“Not yours. Everyone else’s.”
“Can we have a discussion at some point about which management activities are going to be performed by the Manager, aka you, and which ones are going to be done by the Team Leader, in this case, me.”
“We don’t need a discussion on it. That’s easy to explain. If it is good news or involves upselling to senior management, then I’ll do it. If it is bad news, boring, or in any other way, something that I don’t want to do, then it’s you. Personal Score Cards – you.”
“Great, and you’ve told everyone to send them to me and go through them each week with me, haven’t you.”
The silence answered Dave’s somewhat rhetorical question.
“Okay. You cancel your weekly one-on-one catchups and I’ll book replacements.”
“It’s a bit more urgent than that Dave. There is a spot inspection happening tomorrow. Someone from the Project Orifice wants to have a look at them. Need everything to be ship shape and Bristol fashion, whatever that means.”
“Okay, I’ll get it sorted.”
“Thank fuck for that. I hardly slept last night until I thought of getting you to do it. Slept like a baby after that.”
“I’m very happy for you.”
Flux bent down towards Dave and lowered his voice. “The thing is, some of these people have never done one before and upper management think we are all over this. Glad you’ve got this. Good man!”
As he walked away, Flux turned and casually mentioned, “As well as the current Personal Score Card they said something about wanting to review the last 3 months as well. Good luck friend, and remember, I’ve got your back!”
Penelope Crank resented being in a meeting room with David Starling. Actually, that is too specific. Penelope Crank pretty much resented everything. Dave was just the latest example thrown up by life to prove her right again.
“What do you want Dave? I’m pretty busy.”
“Penelope, this is our time to discuss any issues you have that we can work on to make your time at Amalgamated Bank Limited more enjoyable and productive. This is you time.”
“I smell bullshit, and Chris is nowhere near. Don’t try that crap on me. Nobody has ever managed me before and you…” she paused to make an unpleasant face, “…are not going to be the first. Here is the deal. You stay the fuck out of my way and I won’t bring your nice little world crashing down around you. Okay?”
“So, what do you really want? Nobody has had a one-on-one catch up with me for fifteen years.”
Dave cleared his throat, “Personal Score Cards.”
“Golf? You want to talk about golf?”
“No. We have a system in place for two-way feedback between managers and staff. That is you and me.”
“Jesus, it gets worse.”
“Every Thursday you are supposed to send me an updated version with what you have done for the last week, what you plan to do and any blockers or challenges. Plus, anything you need me to do.”
“I’ve told you. I need you to fuck off and let me get on with my job. I don’t have time for this.”
“That aside, we still need to follow the system.”
“Look Dave, you are a little worm who wears a suit to an office full of tee shirt wearing stinkers. But. I quite like you and I am getting old and find less entertainment in breaking the hearts of my managers. I’ll do you a deal. Write whatever you want on this score card thing and I’ll agree to it. Just don’t make me have anything to do with it. If anyone asks I’ll swear blind that we catch up for an hour a week and you are the best manager in the world. But leave me the fuck alone. If I wanted a career I would have done something about it 30 years ago, and if I need to feel better about myself, I just look around the room.”
Dave felt like he now spent his life in meeting rooms having one-on-one conversations and they generally weren’t going well. He looked across the table at Barry McGuigan and didn’t think anything was likely to improve in the next thirty minutes.
“I need you to work with me here, Barry. And by the way, did your parents not know that name was already taken when they named you?”
“Taken? By who?”
“Never mind. You are just about the only person in the team who has been filling out your Personal Score Card.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“Well, you would have thought so, but actually not so much. Take this week’s.”
“Achievements. ‘Continued to plan monitoring improvements for the Ares Reporting System.’”
Barry smiled proudly.
“The thing is, Barry. I’ve looked back on the last six months of your Personal Score Cards. You have had the same achievement every week.”
“And what is worse, we retired the Ares Reporting System four months ago. Mainly because someone in trading wanted to use the same acronym.”
Barry looked a little worried now.
“Let’s look at this week’s blockers shall we? ‘Inability to concentrate’. ‘Limited programming experience’. Barry, a blocker is supposed to be something along the lines of you can’t continue because you are waiting for sign off, or you don’t have access to a system that you need. These aren’t blockers, they are reasons to sack you.”
“What can we do?”
“Leave it with me, Barry. I’ll sort it out.”
And that is why David James Starling was still at work at 11pm on a Thursday night writing, or re-writing, the Personal Score Cards of his entire team. With the exception that is of Chris Tackle, who not only completed his weekly, but also, as Dave could see, was, with the exception of Penelope, the only person in the team who seemed to do anything. Unfortunately for Chris, that wasn’t the task at hand, and Dave was slowly spreading Chris’ achievements across the whole team.