We should never forget that the way we are performance managed is a BT policy: that on paper it looks like a fair system that was agreed in good faith.
What we see in reality is a set of targets cascaded down layer, by layer through the management structure until ultimately they fall at our feet and we are expected to not only reach but surpass these targets. We have argued that our members work on a binary system: a 1 means job complete and a 0 means incomplete; so when managers and senior number crunchers raise the bar by a ‘mere 0:4%’ or so, it’s a whole job that has to be completed somewhere by one of our members, we cannot do 0:4% of a job, it would be classed as incomplete.
Setting targets for managers is, we think, the root to all evil. This leads to team league tables and of course pressure on managers to succeed which ultimately means pressure on our members.
What can you do about targets: the CWU line is ‘we never agree targets’ which is true, however this does not help our Branch members; as everyone is measured and judged by one or other set, and failing to hit them means performance issues, a plan and possibly dismissal, that’s coupled with the stress and humiliation which is often felt when going through the process.
Never formally agree targets, the only thing you will promise and can ever promise, is that on any day you will work to your best ability for that day, in line with BT’s policies and processes. As you know, each day is different.
That is all we would expect to see you have promised, not to hit 75% or 90%, regardless of anything a manager may threaten you with or say, you simply promise to work to the best of your ability on the day, in line with BT’s policies and processes. It does not matter where you work, or what you do, this is the only commitment you can give: anything outside of this will depend on a third party, the job you are given, the weather, customers, surroundings, health, etc.
If you are set a plan with a target, let’s face it, who isn’t? Then make sure your manager notes that you do not promise to hit the target, if you feel under pressure to give a response, (because your manager may be under pressure to note one), then simply state, that regarding the target they set, you ‘will endeavour to meet it by working to the best of your ability on the day. ’ The new performance dashboards, we are told, ensure that the ‘basket of measures’ is considered in a far fairer way than ever before: time will tell, and in seriousness we really hope it does for our entire members’ sake.
We recently wrote to Colin O’Callaghan regarding an update on performance management issues and the talks that senior CWU are having with BT. Below is his response, our Branch health and safety officer will feed back to us all anything that comes from the occupational report.
The national team are continuing to meet on a regular basis, we are pursuing some further guidance on the use of Settlement agreements in sick absence cases. There have been escalations under the new escalation procedures and the Company are dealing with the issues we are raising. Inevitably most of the escalations are coming from Prospect as they are the first to see any inappropriate behaviours. We have raised the inappropriate use of Settlement agreements in BT MSL and Brian Healy has got that rectified. The National Team has met with Dr Nita Clarke on two occasions as part of her Independent Review. We are currently awaiting the outcomes of that review. The company is just about to embark upon its second Organsiational Health survey and the Executive has been invited to attend the Leadership Training that it is rolling out to the top 600 managers on the new approach to Organisational Health approach.
Should you be called in to review your figures, if you are told you are below target, our advice to members is to make sure your manager has done a thorough ‘Root Cause Analysis’ and that what is levelled at you as a failing, is indeed something you can alter and improve upon; something that your manager can pin point as being more or less, your fault. If this is not done, if this cannot be proven then no matter how good a coaching plan may be, you will not be able to improve your figures.