* PDB – Personal Development Bollocks
I recently had my annual PDR (or Personal Development Review as bollock-speakers [management] like to call it). It might be more widely known as an ‘annual report’ or ‘appraisal’.
The annual report was something which was done by your sergeant, who knew you quite well, knew what your strengths and weaknesses were, knew how you coped under pressure – because he/she was out there on job with you, and knew what the standard of your reports was. Unless the sergeant didn’t like you it was usually quite good to pretty good and sometimes excellent. You had little involvement in the appraisal process because it was a report on what supervisors thought about you and your work.
Nowadays, the system has been totally turned on its head. It kind of reminds me of the times when it was your birthday and people bought you presents or a cake. These days, when it’s your birthday, you have to buy other people cakes – how does that work?
Now, with the PDR, it’s you who has to do all the work and basically write your own report. It has two effects; not only does it mean that the sergeant no longer has to monitor your work (how can they these days as you rarely see them on the street on a job with you), it also wastes even more time when you are compiling stuff for your PDR which could actually be spent on the street catching naughty people.
It works like this; you have set objectives, some are set by the government, some are set by the force and some are set by the local division, there is room for a few you might want to set yourself. You then have to write a few paragraphs for each objective showing evidence of how you have met the target. So, for instance, I currently have these as some examples:
To meet responsibilities as set out in the Organisation’s Health & Safety Policy - I’ll be honest, I haven’t got a clue what the force’s health & safety policy even says, let alone how I have met the responsibilities of it. I know I haven’t crashed my car & I’ve worn my bullet-proof vest & I haven’t fallen over, but I did trap my finger under the lid of the photocopier, and I had 3 paper-cuts this year, so did I fail it? I haven’t a clue.
Conduct Operational Risk Assessments - They love the phrase ‘risk assessment’, it’s the bosses way of saying "not our fault, mate". I have, apparently, to ‘risk assess’ everything "ensuring adequate control processes are in place & appropriate contingency plans are developed". Hmmm… I don’t recall doing any of that, ever, but I’m still here so whatever I am doing appears to work. How do I evidence that, other than being present for work every day? I have no idea.
Adopt a Problem Solving Approach to Community Issues – it goes on to mention certain bollox-speak nuggets as ‘community partners’, ‘legislation policy procedures’ & ‘partnership agreements’ . Er, yeah, right.
Respect for Race & Diversity – I have to welcome diversity & treat people with dignity & respect. The way I evidence this is by showing that I search all travellers’ sites that my bosses send me to note the car number plates in the middle of the night with equal diligence. Institutional Racism, anyone?
There are several others including Community & Customer Focus, Problem Solving, Resilience, Personal Responsibility, (strangely, none on learning new legislation) yada, yada, yada.
So, I have to go through all the jobs I’ve dealt with, look them up on the computer, print them out, highlight areas which prove I adhered to one or more of the above requirements. It can take literally hours. Those younger in service spend eons doing their’s. You wright your own report. You don’t mention all the jobs you cocked up during the last year, or all the times you were playing ‘hide-&-seek’ on nights and watching porn, obviously. So by the time you’ve finished you have hard & fast evidence that you are a paragon of virtue & the best officer since Dixon of Dock Green. Your sergeant doesn’t know any different because they’ve never been on patrol with you and your inspector doesn’t know any different because they wouldn’t know who you were if you jumped out of their soup. You might have done two jobs really well all year and been total crap the rest of the time. Completely meaningless.
The system is totally and utterly pointless. It matters not one jot what the PDR says; I’m not relying on it for a wage increase as pay goes up depending on length of service, not quality.
To prove it, last year I didn’t fill in a single box. I signed it and submitted it. My sergeant wrote a paragraph about what a sterling chap I was and got me to sign that and my Inspector wrote exactly what the sergeant wrote only using longer words and got me to sign that too. After it left his hands I doubt anyone, anywhere ever read it again.
I’ve done exactly the same this year. It took me under 1 minute to sign it and return it. My PDR was 8 pages of A4, if I’d actually filled it in it could have been double that. And there’s officers all over the country sitting in offices sweating away and worrying about their PDRs, when they could be out there doing police work.