Two weeks later I was summoned into a darkened room with a horde of tablet PC wielding youths hiding in the shadows behind a giant projected image of my face circa 1982 when I first joined the company. There followed a colourful but essentially meaningless PowerPoint presentation during which I would normally have dozed off, were it not for the fact that my name appeared on every slide.
Their conclusion was that I spend an average of 7.4 hours a day in transit and that I should make more efficient use of this time. I pointed out that, as I am the European manager, travelling is really rather important and, given that my day starts at 04:00 and ends around 21:00, I work at least 7.4 hours a day more than they do.
It was no use. I had to appear to take action in order to appease the handshakers. So this month, I have repeatedly taken a limo to the airport, travelled first class on trains and even bought spare laptop batteries on expenses. As a consequence, I have gained many hours, which I have primarily used to reply to moaning colleagues in my capacity as the nominated management dispute arbitrator. This has resulted in my superiors having to attend internal hearings that I have scheduled on Saturdays so as not to disrupt their operational workflow processes. I'm not sure what has cost the company most: the fees for the third party 'assessments' or my expense account for this month.
Last month HR emailed me to demand my presence at head office for an 'assessment'. This failed to fill me with joy for the simple reason that it took me away from the job I'm paid to do and, according to my immediate superior, there is no commission structure for undergoing the said assessment.
I sent an aggressive email threatening to get in touch with my union representative should management insist upon this tomfoolery. I then sent another email asking whether, indeed, I actually had a union representative. Alas, it would appear that there is no union and, more worryingly, I have apparently been the nominated management dispute arbitrator since 2006, explaining all the emails from unknown colleagues that I've been junking.
I appeared, as requested, ready to be assessed. For a whole day I was asked stupid questions by a spotty teenager with a tablet PC who insisted on shaking hands before and after coffee breaks as if I had forgotten who he was during the intervening 20 minutes. Having failed to recite the company's 'mission statement' and to explain my operational workflow processes adequately, I was expecting to be handed a P45 on the spot. But there was just another handshake and final reminder of his name. 'Kevin' I believe it was.
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