A graduate has received an apology from Curry’s over him being asked to dance at a job interview. An act that proves that there are indeed plenty of David Brent type managers out there. As well as proving that that BBC programme The Call Centre wasn’t fiction. :crazy:
Its difficult to know where to start with this one. But there is firstly the issue of discrimination. Some people, e.g. those with disabilities (either physical or mental health issues) might be unable to comply with such requests or it might make them deeply uncomfortable. Within certain cultures and religions dancing in front of complete strangers (particularly of the opposite sex) is a complete no-no. In short you couldn’t get more un-PC if you joined UKIP.
It is unfortunately all too familiar with the process of job hunting, which these days seems to be becoming ever more soul destroying and demeaning (as if IDS and his Welfare Chain Gangs werent bad enough!). For those who haven’t had to change jobs recently, these days your expected to fill out endless application forms and equality monitoring forms, some of which will increasingly ask you abstract and pointless questions.
Then if you get an interview, you diligently go and do some research about the employer, as this fellow did regarding Curry’s, only to arrive there and find some office psycho’s turned it into some sort of sick game, where you can be asked all sorts of silly questions that will have nothing to do with ones ability to do the job… or indeed simply asked to dance!
And interview expenses? Don’t even ask these days! best way not to get the job! Indeed here we see the effect of another Tory cut, they’ve stopped a scheme that paid for interview travel expenses in situations where hard up job-seekers were unlikely to get them.
Granted part of the problem here is that we have a large volume of people out of work and management often find themselves swamped with applicants, many of whom are often vastly overqualified, seeking work. Another employer recently complained about getting swamped with offers from all over the country for a job paying just £8 an hour. Ironically none of those she shortlisted for interview showed up (probably because they realised they weren’t going to get expenses paid, so why spend a hundred quid on a train ticket for a job you’ve little hope of getting!).
Of course this has to lead one too question the professionalism of companies who engage in such unconventional interview practices. Do you want to put your faith in a company, and the services it provides, if it judges future employees on how well they dance (or make up bullshit!) rather than on merit?
Or let me put in this way, if British Airways started selecting its pilots on the basis of how well they can sing, as opposed to how good they are at keep the big metal tubey thing up in the air, would you ever want to fly BA again? I certainly won’t be shopping in Curry’s for some time, if this how they select staff.
Middle management from hell
However, I would also pin the blame on the modern system of middle management. As Lucy Kellaway recently pointed out in her history of the modern office, there are now five million managers of some form or another in the UK, that’s 1 in 5 of the total UK workforce. And that is just an overall average figure. I’ve sat in project meetings and counted more managers around a table (talking about mission statements and strategy) than actual engineers and technical people there to do the actual project work!
I mean take the army, a good example of how a chain of command is supposed to work. The lowest ranking manager, a corporal is typically in charge of 10 troops. And strictly speaking he’s not really the boss of those ten, just the guy who does the shouting when the Sergeant (1 squad or 20 men) isn’t in ear shot. And even a sergeant (quite literally!) takes his marching orders from the Lieutenant (platoon leader) or Captain (a company or 4 platoons). And in most armies all officers of captain rank or below are typically field commissions. i.e. they are expected to be down in the trenches in the thick of the fighting alongside the rest of the troops.
…Or to put that in terms of the modern office, all but the most senior officers are expected to roll up their sleeves and do some of the actual work, not hiding away in an office drawing up organisational charts and drinking coffee. I mean how well would the British Army fare if, say, during an Argy invasion of the Falklands, with an officer corps ratio at 1 in 5, all the officers fecked off mid-battle to go on a three day retreat to discuss corporate branding? In short if the army was run like many UK companies you’d likely end up with scenes like this, or this :P.
The Dilbert Principle
The end result of all of this is that it is my observation that many middle management types have worked their way into a tidy and comfortable little rut which involves doing very little actual work. However their priority is often now in keeping that job to the point where they’ve develop survival instincts that would put a rat or cockroach to shame. A situation not helped by the fact that a large proportion of managers are likely to be psychopaths (as I discussed in a prior post). Consequently they’re goal when hiring is merely to hire someone who will further their little empire, not further the goals of the firm. This is how we end up with ridiculous Elf N’ Safety dictates banning conkers or cake sales….or as I prefer to call it SAPS (Save Ass Policy Schemes).
Hence they will sooner hire some moron who clearly shows a willingness to be the bosses minion (e.g. the guy who willingly dances around with his trousers around his ankles at interview if asked too) rather than someone competent who can do the job well and (god forbid) will be looking for said managers job in a couple of years time. In short this incident is further proof of the reality of the so-called Dilbert Principle.
To me the solution is very simple, sack a couple of rows of middle management. But who to sack? How about a dance off judged by the general workforce :))