1: An appraisal form. Typed up. This will lead to a very different approach to managing your staff. Instead of speaking regularly with them about how they are getting on, try documenting them. This will mean you can be objective in dealing with the human being in front of you by ignoring them and dealing with the appraisal form in front of you instead. You will find that this method will be easier than dealing with the system that actually causes poor performance, as you cannot get the system in a room to point at and tell them where it needs to improve, set it a 12 month set of targets and a training plan. A boon for tired and superficial managers! Will need to be extracted annually to be checked against a human being, so it helps if they have someone’s name on them. “Susan” or “Peter” are often suitable names.
2: A policy. Imagine what you would like to be true, about anything at all. Write it down. The resulting “policy” will be far easier for an external body to inspect when it’s in paper form, and can be revised and changed as and when senior management change their mind according to the whims of fashion. It is far harder to change actual policy , i.e. the thinking, the culture and the system. But paper, easy-peasy!
3: A performance report. You may already have performance indicators that are used in the workplace, but this is the wrong place. If it is important, it wouldn’t be in the workplace. Go to where the work is done, not the Adminisphere. Take a good look around. See anyone important? No. Important things aren’t there. Find out what are the important numbers by asking someone important. Not a customer, not the oiks doing the work. Ask someone important what they would like to see. Take those numbers and write them down. Store in a poly pocket. File in the cabinet. Threat averted.
4: A strategy. You may have purpose but is it written down? Try writing down and hiding your purpose in a filing cabinet. Once a year, organise a “find the purpose” Easter egg hunt. Fun!
5: A business plan. You’re a business. right? So you need a plan! You’ve seen Dragon’s Den, so you know that you need “projections” of how much money youre going to make. These are polite words for “guesses”. Write down your guesses. Hey presto, Business Plan! File it away securely, in case some future trouble-maker checks it for it’s predictive accuracy.
You may think that these five example will constitute a meagre diet. Don’t worry! As you start down the route of creating documents to feed your filing cabinet, you will find these documents will procreate and create more paper-based work-substitutes such as customer service standards, strategic implementation plans, performance dashboards etc.
The beauty of this approach is that you will soon find that, like a bird feathering it’s nest, you will soon be ensconced in a warm cosy safe place made of pieces of paper that serve no purpose at all other than feed filing cabinets and fend off that nasty reality.
Here’s the systems thinking lesson.
NB This post inspired by/copies a post on the sublime SystemsThinkingForGirls. a blog brought to my attention by a commenter on this site elsewhere. If anyone knows of any more good systems thinking blogs please tell me through the comments, and I will add to the homescreen so I don’t forget them and others can enjoy them too. You know the sort of thing i write, so anything gimmicky with pictures would go down a treat.