Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Save the trees

One week back at work and the paperwork is accumulating. My head of department (HOD) told me that I would have to carry out appraisals for all my staff. He pointed out appraisals were a good way of assessing performance over the last year and for identifying training needs. He then told me (violins softly playing in the background) that due to cuts in departmental budgets, he would not be able to pay for all requested training anyway. Furthermore he told me categorically that appraisals were not to be used to justify promotions or to criticise the performance of staff. So I asked if an appraisal who still be required for someone who would be leaving within the next two months. After all, there would be no concern about training because that would depend on the next job. The employee had been not been at work for most of the year, for various medical and personal reasons. So not much I could write about performance since this was related to "confidential" matters that were off-limits. Predictably (why do I bother?) he said it was very important that the appraisal should still occur. Doh! The member of staff in question, has admitted that the last year was a "annus horribilis" and does not want an appraisal. They do have the right to refuse an appraisal. This is a disciplinary offence but by the time anyone realises, they will have left so the University won't be able to take any further action. Hmm..........maybe I can fight against the system after all.

Another irritation is the need for a formal probation period for new members of staff. In their wisdom, human resources have deemed that this should be extended from 6 months to 12 months. So I am in the situation where I have someone on a 12 month contract. I will need to have probation interviews and report on progress; upon arrival, then at 3,6 and 9 months. After 9 months I get to make a formal decision on whether they pass the probation period and continue their employment for another 3 months. Incidentally the probation forms need to be signed by me, the staff on probation, a "mentor" who is independent, and the head of department. Technically if I was successful and got a new grant to keep on this member of staff, it would count as a new post and I would have to go through this whole process again! At this point it would be worthwhile to place plastic caps over all my teeth to prevent me grinding them down to stumps during the course of the next year.

While idly perusing the student noticeboards, I read a print out of an email warning female students to be vigilant while on campus. Two female students were assaulted on separate occaisons last year when walking after dark. I then realised that despite many notices (by email and during departmental meetings) about bloody appraisals, waste control, staff training, seminars etc, I had not heard this important news. I asked a colleague about this, and he said that he had gone to the HOD last year. The HOD told him, that any formal announcements about safety had to come from the Health and Safety Department. However my colleague should alert female members of staff informally, which he did. Surprise, surprise Health and Safety never issued the notice. I am now convinced that my HOD was recruited from the Civil Service. Nevermind Elvis, common sense has well and truly left the building!


Blogger pogo said...

Appraisals, eh? Aren't they a fantastic idea? I'm told, every year, that my appraisal is "for my benefit". So every year I tell them what I'd enjoy doing, and every year they ignore it. They also say "it's a two-way thing", but I've long since given up bothering to try and say anything meaningful, cos they just don't listen. And yes, appraisals aren't supposed to have anything to do with pay. So why bother with them? They don't care about what I have to say, so I don't care about what they have to say, and the pay is determined long in advance of it all anyway. Silly. It's just a machine to make paper for the paperpushers. Paper is the root of all evil, I'm convinced :-)

12 January 2005 at 10:00  
Blogger Chromatin said...

Appraisals are pointless. Ours consist of us telling them how we think we've done (much like the fashionable DIY school reports of the 80s) but the only time I've tried to get actual feedback out of them, all I got was (unwarranted) complaints (http://tinyurl.com/4zbjl).
Maybe they're trying to keep you occupied so you don't notice them sneaking Elvis out?

12 January 2005 at 21:39  
Blogger Professor Xavier said...

Hello Pogo

Yes you're right. But the question is, are we powerless against the "Human Resources" empire? My philosphy is to fill in all the forms using the magic of cut n' paste. My HOD did comment last year that my appraisal form had remarkable similarities to a previous form. Let's see if he has improved his line in withering sarcasm for this year's effort!

12 January 2005 at 21:45  
Blogger Professor Xavier said...

Hello Chromatin

I forgot to mention that my HOD turned down my request for training in "personnel law" because he thought I would use it in a negative way! Incidentally the lack of feedback seems to be a common theme of appraisals. My HOD also uses the appraisal interview to land me with more duties that will help my "career development".

12 January 2005 at 21:52  
Blogger Katbo said...

I do HR work and boy does it get boring. Thanks to your blog I get through the day. In fact I've thought about turning my writing performance appraisals into a blog also. Since appraisals are all I know.

20 October 2005 at 19:26  
Blogger lady said...

Honestly, they are trying to get you preoccupied so that you'll get your head off of it. Try to be vigilant of what is going on around you.

16 September 2006 at 01:54  
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25 November 2009 at 01:15  

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