May 30th, 2009

Just fill this in, leave it on my desk

There was a time when people you worked with knew what you were like. They knew whether you were good at your job or not, what your strengths & your weaknesses were. They knew how you worked, & if they were your supervisor, they knew how well you worked.

This went by the board some time ago; they introduced what they now call PDRs, or Performance Development Reviews. This replaced the need for supervisors to write about you, with an evidence-based approach in which you had to show them that you had the required skills for the role. You had to do all the work all of a sudden, then present it to the supervisor. Appraisals were done away with. Now nobody knows who does what unless it’s written down by the person doing it. Nothing is personal any more, it’s all done by proforma.

Theres more but that’s just a basic summary to get me to the point I want to make in todays blog entry.

I got asked to fill in a form this week. The management have finally cottoned on to the fact that there is a high level of stress in the control room. The fact that they have caused most of it by the way they staff the place has probably slipped seemelessly by their glass walled offices.

So I got asked to fill in a form which is designed to measure how much stress I’m under. This, of course, will not measure my stress level in any meaningful way. I am limited to answering the exact questions they ask. “Do your colleagues value your contributions?” Agree Strongly/ Agree/ Neither Agree nor Disagree/ Disagree/ Strongly Disagree.

There are, of course, many such anodyne, airey-fairey, non-specific examples of questions. Nowhere do I see questions like “How often do you have to work on your own under high pressure situations?” “Can you get the leave you are entitled to, when you want it?” “How often do you have to work for 7 or 8 hours at a stretch without a break?”

They will gather in the forms & some bean counter will analyse the to determine how much stress I am under. They will see that I am not under much stress at all. Nobody will come and ask me what I think about stress in the control room. None of the bosses will come & sit with me for a busy late turn to see first-hand the stresses placed on me.

They will look over their forms & know the cost of everything & the value of nothing.

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