We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Praise from Caesar is praise indeed

We've done well in the customer survey asking if if they found the books they wanted. They say yes, overwhelmingly. T.Aldous takes the opportunity to pass on some good news for once and flunks it. "This is down to front-line staff and nobody else," he tells an audience which includes half the acquisitions team that have been killing themselves to get 48,000 items ordered, catalogued, received and distributed in between doing every other shit job that needs doing backstage when they're not covering vacancies. This does not go down well.

"We'll have to wait to the end of the financial year to get our thank you. They'll tell us how much they value us and they'll promise to do something about filling the vacancies, then they'll wander off and nothing will change" they mutter.

Why he couldn't have taken the opportunity to emphasise the value of the teamwork involving all the people, front- and backstage, who provide the books that our customers want I do not know. Actually, that's not true, I do know: we have a deeply-entrenched silo mentality that cripples a lot of our potential.

Mary pointed out the error to T.Aldous, who decided to make an apology to the acquisitions team. This is almost unprecedented. Having overheard the conversation I'd advise him not to bother in future. It all started okay with him saying that he hadn't meant to overlook the team, he was just wanting to make sure that people realised that the praise wasn't due to anything that management had done, it was a reflection of the work done by the staff who get their hands dirty. They explained to him that they understood what his intentions were but that it hurt to be sidelined yet again as they feel that their hard work is undervalued, especially given that one post's been vacant a year, another for two years and another for three years and not only have they taken up the slack, they've increased productivity and are expected to cover posts elsewhere backstage as and when they arise.

"We just don't think that anyone takes the work that we do seriously and nobody cares how much pressure we're under until something goes wrong or one or other of you starts panicking because we're falling behind on targets or the boxes are stacking up in the corner."

"Well, you have a think about what we can do to take some of the pressure off you."

"You can fill some of the vacancies."

"Mary and I need to get together to plan what we're doing with those posts. I'll get back to you on that. In the mean time, bear in mind that it'll soon be the end of March. I'll be thanking you for all your work then."

Ouch. When you're in a hole, stop digging.

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