WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's Diary

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

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Disastrous results of staff satisfaction survey on my desk. Staff are only ever satisfied when they're being paid through the nostrils for doing sweet FA. Completing a survey is probably more work than most staff do in the average day so it's no surprise that they're miserable by the time they've finished it. Normally, I just give the forms a quick check for death threats and bin them, but Sir Marcus is demanding that all staff be enabled, engaged and inspired by the end of the week. Had lunch with Bill Peters. We agreed that asking staff if they're satisfied is as pointless as asking totty if they're getting enough romance. You could be the Milk Tray man 24 hours a day and they'd still want that little extra touch.


Staff satisfaction levels are all low except in marketing, where they are hovering between mutiny and mass suicide. If I find out who's unhappy, I'll personally make their life a misery. It's alright for operations - give them an adjustable spanner and they're as happy as Larry, even though they're paid less than 10-year-old Filipinos. IT are happy because they've got us all by the balls, and Sales are happy - all they've got to do is smile and they get a new car. You'd expect support staff to be happy because they're just simple peasant folk with a high alcohol intake. Took Bill Peters to lunch and after a couple of big red ones we hadn't solved the staff satisfaction issue but felt a lot happier about their misery.


Good news. Sir Marcus has solved the entire staff motivation problem. He passed round little yellow cards which say: 'Stop the bull - Start the change.' He then explained at length why these cards would change Smokehouse overnight into a can-do, empowered, motivated culture. Bill was holding his yellow card up through most of the speech, but Sir Marcus didn't seem to notice. After work, met Howard at the gym. He suggested some vigorous exercise but I had my yellow card on me and sent us both off to the bar. Steadily improved satisfaction levels until we eventually found ourselves naked in the middle of an ante-natal aqua aerobics class. If that doesn't induce them, nothing will.


First team meeting. I was just getting into my stride about the power of marketing to create universal happiness when Nigel Henwood, one of my lickspittle brand managers, raised a yellow card. He might just as well have waved his P45 at me. It all got beyond a joke as every time I opened my mouth my entire team would show me a forest of yellow cards. They seemed to find this fantastically amusing. Some of the fun will wear off when they're all down the job centre. Had emergency lunch with Bill. He told his team that the yellow cards are parking permits, so he's bought some time. On the way back into the office I was about to give Shirley on reception my usual friendly breast-related banter when I found a yellow card in my face. I feel I'm being discriminated against.


Board meeting. Sir Marcus was half way through 'good morning' when Giles Renton-Willets raised his yellow card. Every director reported that all their meetings had been sabotaged by yellow-card waving anarchists. I remarked that at least our people were all enabled, engaged and inspired by something. Renton-Willets started in on the standard HR rubbish about people and assets when Sir Marcus flashed a specially made gold card which read: 'I'm your boss - JFDI'. He explained that a gold card meant what he had to say was more important than what anyone else had to say, so it overruled yellow cards. Only directors were to get gold cards. That certainly shut Renton-Willets up. Revolution over, staff miserable, normal service resumed. Very satisfying.

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

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Books for the weekend: Daniel Goleman, Jack Welch, Nelson Mandela

Beaverbrooks CEO Anna Blackburn shares her reading list.

What happens next: COVID-19 lessons from Italian CEOs

Part I: Marco Alvera, chief executive of €15bn Lombardy-based energy firm Snam, on living with...

Coronavirus communications: Dos and don'ts

Uncertainty and isolation make it more important than ever to be seen, to be heard...

Leadership lessons: Mervyn Davies, former CEO of Standard Chartered and trade minister

"People talk about pressure – I worked 24 hours a day. There is more pressure...

How to reinvent your career through motherhood and midlife

Pay it Forward podcast: Former Marie Claire editor-in-chief Trish Halpin and BITE managing editor Nicky...