Monday, January 05, 2009

#112: Enjoy The Silence

Remember this posting? Of course you do. But I'll allow you to sneak away and re-read it before you go any further. Go on, I'll just have a quiet glass of milk and tap my foot until you return.

Back already?

Good. How was your New Years Eve?

My, you are a fast little reader aren't you? So what's new in the world then? Hey, to quote Rob Morrison, I'm glad you asked. Another conversation with a compatriot in the Federal ranks alerted me to the full extent of the Formerly Known As Focus Days, now delightfully referred to as an internal acronym. If you read the previous entry then you'd be aware of what the Formerly Known As Focus Days involves - no email, no phone calls, no outside stimuli at all. As if that wasn't bad enough...and you knew it, it had to get worse. Today's little gem included the following: the idea of the Formerly Known As Focus Days is so that they can have a a day free of distractions such as, meetings, training, email, internal messaging, phone distractions including mobiles and general chatter.

Got that last bit? Yep, you read it right - staff are not allowed to even speak whilst in the office. I wonder when the shackles and chains will be produced, and the Nubian with the drums introduced. Also I guess staff will now have to put up their hands to speak or to go to the potty. Now the person who is instigating this works a good 2,500 kilometres away from where it's to be implemented and has never done the job in question, but like all middle tier management they do know how to do the job better than anyone who might have a few years of actual, on the ground experience. God love 'em.

The whole idea of the Formerly Known As Focus Days is that the teams will be able to reach their KPIs successfully, mind you these were KPIs that were more than likely planned without taking into consideration sick days, leave, flex days - you know, if you work in Government then these, along with perennial understaffing, are standard practice for any day. If a workplace is supposed to have ten people then you can count on eight actually being there on any given day and two of those will leave by lunchtime. However the management here are asking people to provide an effort of around 120% each as they're already providing 80% of their KPIs with 80% of staff - in effect, 100% of effort. Mind you, those numbers confuse management no end, all they see is 80%.

I love human resource departments. I might go to TAFE for two years, part time, and earn a HR degree as well. It might serve me in good stead when it comes to telling people how to work whilst never actually having to attend their workplace, let alone do the job in question. Brilliant!

There's going to be a series of meetings about all of this in the Federal Building Of Doom. I'd suggest that the people there ask the following questions before agreeing to the Formerly Known As Focus Days:
1] Is this legal?
2] Has this been run past the union, and if so, what was their stance?
3] What are the penalties if someone dares speak, send an email, answer a phone or violently break wind?
4] If a staffer needs a phone for emergencies, such as a disabled child or an elderly parent, are they expected to switch that off as well?
5] How will this be policed? (Hopefully by a staffer with their hair pulled into a screaming bun walking behind the staff with rulers at the ready)
6] Where is the evidence that this will increase, and not decrease, productivity.
7] Has this been implemented in another department, and if so, can they provide solid evidence that it had the desired result? (And none of that, "Oh, over in Goat Rooting they do this all the time and it works," crap, I'd want spreadsheets, reports - the lot)
8] Are management going to be doing the same as the staff and having the Formerly Known As Focus Days themselves?
9 ] Who came up with the idea?
10] What drugs were they on at the time?

Well, maybe not the last question, but the first nine would be where I'd be starting. And then I'd be contacting my union rep and asking them to earn my $10 per fortnight and do something. This is not how professional working adults are to be treated, not if they want decent service.

I await the next chapter in this particular book.