Man Management

29th January 2007

I was reading the other day about the famed man management skills of football managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourhino. It reminded me that when I was a supervisor with Ferodo Brake Lining a long time ago that on at least one occasion my own man management skills weren’t all that bad.

George was the night shift sweeper-up on my shift, employed to keep the passageways of my section and other sections in our block clean and dust and debris free. He was without any doubt the most lazy idle sweeper-up in the world. He should have been shown the door long since but this was pre-Thatcher when trade unions were very strong and the only offence that warranted the sack was murder, and even then the offender might have got off with a written warning. So how to get rid of George?
On company headed notepaper I wrote to him pointing out that the company had just taken on, as his opposite number on the day shift, a man with only one leg. I went on to say that as that it was clearly unfair that a man with two legs should be paid the same wages as a man with only one leg the options now open to George were –
(a) Carry on with the company, but on half the wage he was on previously. Or –
(b) Have a leg off.
I signed the letter with a fictitious name and added under the name Manager and Chief Executive. I put the letter in an official Ferodo envelope and handed it to him at the start of the next shift. Five minutes later he was in my office.
“Have you seen this?” he said in a shocked tone, brandishing the letter, and all of a shake.
I took the letter off him and read it. “Hmm,” I said. “Actually I do know about this, George. The Manager and Chief Executive left this for you.”
I handed him two pieces of paper. One was a leaving notice, made out in his name. The other was an appointment with Cavendish Hospital, Buxton, to have a leg amputated. He looked at them in turn.
“You’re to sign one of those and let me have it at the end of the shift,” I said.
He thought about it for about ten seconds or so then said: “Tha can have me answer now. Because I’m not having a leg of, t’job’s not worth it.”
With that he signed the leaving notice and handed it to me. Man managers? I’ve shit ‘em.

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