WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's diary

WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's diary - MONDAY

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Smokehouse board meeting. We now have two women on the board. We only need one more for the full coven. Madeleine Rose (Organisation Development Director) announced that for businesses in the future the cost of training would replace the cost of building factories. Bloody cheap factories, I thought. To assess our training needs, she was introducing competency-driven 360-degree appraisals. Sir Marcus is all in favour of 360s because there is no-one above him except God, and as God's gift to management, he's unlikely to get a bad word there. Mad Rose said continual feedback was the breakfast of champions. I prefer toast and marmalade. Sir Marcus complained that the meeting ran three hours over time (after three hours of him complaining) and suggested we all had time management training.


Looked into training and it turns out that all Smokehouse staff are entitled to 10 days' training a year. Someone's been trained in throwing money down the toilet. Bill and I booked ourselves on a time management course just to impress Sir Marcus and because it meant a day out of the office.

Then had first part of my 360, which was appraisal by a fellow director. Clare O'Keefe told me I was a bullying, arrogant, lazy, sexist manager from hell and that in any other company I would be neck-deep in industrial tribunals. I thought long and hard and decided it was her way of saying she fancied me.


Did the 360s with my team. On the agenda I put Point 1: 360-degree appraisal; Point 2: salary review. They're completely separate items but for some reason my team insist on connecting them. I encourage my team to be open and honest with me. That way I know who's first in line for natural wastage.

One guy in my team said nothing throughout his appraisal. Apparently, he's a quantitative researcher, which means he counts things for a living.

I wrote on his appraisal that he was the office equivalent of a dead horse and would only be useful if boiled up for glue. That'll give the girlies in Human Remains something to think about. One of my team put in my appraisal: 'John Weak is the rock on which this company is grounded', which I thought was very nice. Instant pay rise for him.


Time Management Course. The trainer started by saying: 'Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource.' He paused for impact, but Bill burst in and apologised for being late. We decided the course was a waste of time and left for lunch at Mr Bojangles. After three bottles of red we admitted we were the finest managers the world had ever seen. We talked about appraisals and Bill said he used an old Cosmopolitan quiz, which tells you what kind of person you are. It's not exactly competency-driven but you do find out whether you are mostly As, Bs, Cs or Ds. After the fourth bottle the room started doing our 360-degree for us.


Slight blip in whole 360-degree set-up. The coven has decided that the board should appraise Sir Marcus. He thinks he's turned the company around single-handed. He has if you mean turning a bureaucratic and inefficient company into an inefficient and bureaucratic company. He didn't need the board to tell him how wonderful he was so he's put his trotter down on that one. I got Henderson to work out that 90% of appraisals said people were working inefficiently and 39% of working time was spent doing appraisals (it's always worth flogging a dead horse). I suggested that if our 360s become 180s we'd save a lot of money and time. Sir Marcus leapt at this idea and has now restored top-down bollockings. I comforted Mad Rose by saying at least we could spend the savings on a new factory.

- John Weak can be contacted at john.weak@smokehouse.co.uk.

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