On A Scale Of One To Kill Me Now

“Ah, come in Mark. Grab a chair. Thanks for making the time for this, I know how busy it gets.”

And so the small talk begins. Spare me the camaraderie. We are not the same. I bet if I poked a knife through your cardigan your blood would be yellow. Let’s be crystal clear; the only reason I’m only going through with this farce is the vague and likely misguided hope that it’ll nett me a slightly under inflation pay rise. Why is he staring…oh I suppose he wants me to speak…

“No problem Malcolm. I’m sure you’re busy as well.” Busy doing fuck all of any actual value.

“I’ve always got time for my staff Mark…”

Thank you O benevolent leader. I will lay gifts at your feet.

“…my door is always open…”

Except when it’s shut so you can do your fuck-all-of-value safe from the prying eyes and searching ears of us proles eh Malcolm? What’s underneath that jacket you permanently keep on the hook on the back of the door? Is your soul under there Malcolm? Does it mewl softly at you as you create another spreadsheet? Does it slide its soft, lost tendrils into your skull begging you to remember that once upon a time so very long ago you were…oh bollocks I need to speak again.

“Thanks.” He’s probably expecting more. Wait…wait…wait…and… “How does this work exactly?” Look at his eyes light up. The joy. The rapture. Explanation of process. It’s basically bean-counter porn…

“Well, we’ll take each of the categories in turn and then dialogue until we have mutual consent.”

Your wife’s a lucky lady Malc. I can only imagine how she dreams of being dialogued into a state of mutual consent after your Thursday night egg and chips. Oh wait there’s more coming…

“You’ve probably noticed we’ve made a subtle change this year to fall in line with group policy. Each category is now a KPM – Key Performance Metric. I have to say I prefer this to the KPI and KPA acronyms of previous years. An indicator is a bit indefinite and an assessment all feels a bit doctor’s rooms to me. You know where you are with a metric, it’s so…”

Mid-sixties-groovy-baby? “Definite?”

“Exactly! Well done that man. Just the word I was grasping for.”

Don’t make me imagine you grasping for something. If this was quicksand you’d be fresh out of rope…

“Right-ho Mark…”

Right-ho? For the love of…

“…let’s start at the top with Professionalism. You need to give yourself a rating of one to four. Oh that’s also a change from last year. Four is overachieving, three is on track, two is under achieving, one is…”

Taking a shit on your boss’s desk every day for a month. Or maybe that should be a two given there’s a metronomic aspect to the whole arrangement. A one would be a really random poo and a look of confusion as to where you are…oh, wait time to talk again.

“Four.”

“Four? Are you sure about that Mark? Not that I’m questioning you of course and I admire your confidence…”

“Four. I’m professional at all times.” Boom.

“Ah. You see…that’s not quite how it works. That’s more a three really. I can’t fault your professionalism don’t get me wrong, but I’d really need some evidence as to quite why you see yourself as overachieving.”

I haven’t ripped your black, shrunken heart from your pigeon chest despite having to sit through nine years of this shit. That’s got to count for something surely?

“I’m professional at all times. I conduct myself professionally in all dealings both internally and externally. I’m not entirely sure what more I can do.”

“Ah. Well. I see your point Mark truly I do, but unless I can give some actual evidence to HR – you know what sticklers those buggers are for evidence…”

Got to hand it to you Malcolm – classic management. Textbook stuff. Throw in a mild swear word, an eye roll and a mild chuckle so that you and I can sock it to “The Man” that is HR and ride off into the sunset. Or at least you’ll ride off into the sunset. I’ll hobble there partly lame and in broken soles because we’ll have agreed to a three and shoes are now a luxury I can’t afford.

“…look, how about we park this one for now and come back to it later. I’m all for open and honest debate Mark. Next up we have Positive Influence. This is all about how you interact with your peers, drive up morale that sort of thing.”

“Four.” I’m a veritable ray of fucking sunshine. Ask anyone. Assuming anyone outside these four walls has managed to sustain the will to live through another day of the purgatory we know simply as “work”.

“Don’t get me wrong Mark, you’re well liked. But I see you more as a three on this one.”

I’m no expert but I’m starting to see a pattern forming here…

“I’m not really sure how I can provide evidence of this one to be honest Malcolm. Perhaps you could speak to some of my peers?” And spare me the if-it-were-up-to-me face and the fallback let’s-blame-HR-together…

“If it were up to me Mark I’d give you a four. No hesitation. But you know what HR are like…”

If I set fire to you right now I wonder if you’d burn with a beige flame…

“…look, I tell you what, let’s park this one for now as well. Give you time to gather some evidence.”

Whoopee. Now we can do this all again next week.

“Right. We’ll get on to your role-based indicators, sorry, metrics shortly but let’s close off the general items with Timesheets.”

“Four.” Two can play at patterns old chum.

“Ah. Now again on this one I’ve scored you a three…”

“I fill my timesheets in on time every single week. The only time I’ve ever been late has been because I’ve been waiting for a project code from the central administrators at Head Office who are no doubt ex-HR or failed the entrance exam because of a lack of opposable thumbs. In those circumstances, without fail, I send an email requesting the code before the deadline for the timesheet in question has passed. I fill them out accurately, diligently and broken down into half an hour portions as specified in your manual of directives or, as I like to call it, The Big Bad Book of Shit. I would draw your attention, if I may be so bold, to Chapter Four of the Big Bad Book of Shit which is devoted to the appraisal process charade you and I are currently enacting. It has a paragraph explaining the scoring system. That’s it. It doesn’t bother with all that flim-flam about metrics being measurable, achievable and so forth. Maybe it could have spent a few moments defining the scoring for timesheets. Something simple like if you fill them in perfectly every week you will get a maximum score of three, if you do not you will get a two. I’m guessing that a one is to cover those poor sods who have died at their desks through sheer boredom. That leaves us with one more number. So explain to me if you will Malcolm, short of ripping open the tea-lady’s stomach and divining the future from her steaming entrails how the absolute fuck does one score a four for fucking timesheets?”

I should probably say something. He’s got that look like earlier when I was daydreaming. Good job I didn’t speak out lou…bollocks.

“…”

I think I should probably leave.

“I think you should probably leave my office now Mark. We’ll have to reconvene and bring in HR to facilitate the process going forward…”

Hmm…if it looks like a disciplinary and smells like a disciplinary…

“…is there anything else you’d like to say?”

This is probably a good time for an apology. Smooth things over a bit. Calm things down.

“Yes.”

Oh magnanimous arm-sweep! Oh joyous Sultan of Smug! What do you reckon Overlord of Ordinary, has the nasty little worker got an apology left in him…?

“I’m not budging on the four for professionalism.”

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22 thoughts on “On A Scale Of One To Kill Me Now

    • Thanks Shannon – I’ve experimented with this kind of thing a few times and I have a lot of fun with it. Every time I get stuck in a rut, writing something funny via dialogue seems to work – it’s almost like it’s a sign that perhaps that’s what I should focus on… 🙂

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    • This is an entirely fictional piece of course Diane. No living persons have been harmed. Yet. Glad it gave you some laughs – the process of performance appraisal in general is a fairly easy target for me to go about with a stick. I can only imagine what Hugh would make of the idea…!

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  1. Funny as F**k! Again proving your genius with the dialogue and attention grabbing headlines.Dare I mention your closeted passion for all things HR?
    Nik, you’ve made my morning. Thanks for getting the sh*t off your chest. (*still laughing)

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    • I think I may have worked in HR in a previous life Mel…

      So pleased to have given you some laughs to start the day – there’s nothing that gives me more joy than a woman laughing at me, Wait…that came out wrong…haha 🙂

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  2. It’s funny because it’s true! Certainly reminded me of my recent appraisal in a few places…good God like we don’t have better things to do with our time than actually go through this mindless stuff rather than do the jobs we are paid to do. Then when they finally do give you a tiny pay-rise, they take three months to actually action it! It’s making me angry just thinking about it! Great stuff as always. You are good at the funny dialogue stuff.

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    • Sorry to have passed on some of my rage hehe 🙂 I think most people who have been through this kind of process can relate to the joy of it all. Very glad it made you laugh in amongst the hair-pulling-internal-screaming memories it spawned!

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  3. Oh my god, this is SO GOOD! I absolutely love the balance of internal and external dialogue: the internal is hilarious and perfect. Some of the prose in there, like ‘What’s underneath that jacket you permanently keep on the hook on the back of the door? Is your soul under there Malcolm? Does it mewl softly at you as you create another spreadsheet? Does it slide its soft, lost tendrils into your skull begging you to remember that once upon a time so very long ago you were..’ – even as you’re being funny and wry, these lines are wrought so vividly evoke the idea of a struggling soul lost to the painful BS of bureaucracy. I laughed reading this 😀 Great work Nik!

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    • Thanks for such a lovely comment Ana – seems like this subject has resonated with a lot of people. What is really satisfying is that you’ve really connected with the thought process behind this one – I try to inject a bit of humanity into all these pieces and even poor old Malcolm deserves a bit of love. The main thing however is that it made you laugh – last week wasn’t filled with a lot of happiness for many people so if I raised a smile I’m happy.

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