(Lights up on Peter Carr, a manager. He addresses the audience)
Gina Davies, with the aid of some gorgeous Power Point slides told us in no uncertain terms that we are all individuals. She pointed to Bernie Markham and told him he was an individual. He seemed quite relieved to have it confirmed. She prodded Ian Porter and and told him he was an individual as if it were a direct order. Poor bastard. And then she looked me directly in the eye and told me that I am an individual as well. Cheeky cow. What right does she think she has to tell me who or what I am? So I put up my hand and demanded to know. That scuppered her bullet points. “And how exactly do you define “individual”?”I asked. She hitched up her cue cards, shuffled around for a bit and replied: “I think it might be better if we take questions at then end, Frank.”
I’d laugh it it wasn’t all so tragic. There’s the bloody HR director ordering us all to be individuals, five minutes before she goes on to demand we are all empowered by Monday. Yes, apparently from Monday we are all to be empowered individuals in a business that values the diversity of its people.
(He takes out a glossy credit card-sized card)
Do you know what this is? This little piece of glossy card that comes out at forty five pence each on a print run of ten thousand? This, is our statement of shared values. These are the beliefs that we are all supposed to live by. They are there, according to Graham Pearce to ensure consistent behaviour and attitudes across the workforce. So, we are now a bunch of empowered individuals who are all expected to behave and think the same. Genius! Graham Pearce is on 80k. Gina Davies is on 65.
Gina puts up this quote about how every human being in the world is a unique species of one. Last week good old Graham has an animated slide of Managers looking like the Simpsons in Pinstripe suits all shaking hands repeatedly and nodding. The caption is: “We are all one team. Success is about a single, consistent message to our customers”. The idiots printed it on the back page of the staff newsletter. You should have heard the piss taking in the canteen on Friday. These guys are not idiots you know. Andy Warren from the press shop was really funny. He walked over with his jacket potato from the counter doing his disco robot act and saying in a robotic impersonation of Graham: I am a total quality individual! But seriously it’s turned into one big joke. And the punch line apparently is that all this is going to get us a shiny new Investors in People certificate.
They are going to have to make a choice. One way or the other. Are we all individuals, allowed to think and behave as individuals, or are we all sheep, bleating to the same tune?