A conversation between an HR manager and a group of line managers.
It’s appraisal time again and the scene is the appraisal and objective setting workshop where the process is explained for the umpteenth time to managers who have worked for the company for years.
Line Manager: So….could I set someone an objective like ’Fill in your timesheet on time’ ?
HR Manager: Well, not really. Objectives are supposed to be specific goals that you set people year on year. Filling in timesheets is just an ongoing requirement of the job.
Line Manager: Yes, but if someone isn’t doing it properly and I want them to start, surely if I put it in their objectives, which they know is linked to their bonus, then they are more likely to do it.
HR Manager: Have you tried explaining that this is simply part of the job?
Line Manager: Yes but a bit of an incentive would give some encouragement to improve.
HR Manager: (Getting a bit exasperated by now.) What next? Shall we set objectives like, ‘Don’t fiddle your expenses’ or ‘Turn up to work on time’ or perhaps even ‘Just turn up for work’ and then give people bonuses for achieving them? If people are failing to complete timesheets we should be giving them warnings not offering them incentives.
As she said to me afterwards, “I’ve been having these sort of conversations for years and I’m fucking sick of it.”