November 2015 – inside out – The Team Leader by Simon Evans

The Team Leader

by Simon Evans

Twas the night before Christmas and I was just finishing stacking the dishwasher. My daughter entered the kitchen holding a glass of wine and placed her free hand on my shoulder.

“Come on Dad, the kids are waiting. It’s story time.”

“Well I shouldn’t keep them waiting then!”

I grinned from ear to ear and walked through to the living room. My grandchildren were sat, all three of them, beaming in front of the Christmas tree.

“Hurray!” they cried in unison as I sat myself down in the armchair.

“Tell us stories Grandad! Tell us! Tell us!”

“Oh my! You’ll tire me out!”

I ruffled the hair of the eldest, Curtis. He stood before me, face full of Christmas light. My daughter stood in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe, smiling between sips of wine.

“You sit down with your brother and sister, Curtis.”

Curtis sat down but rocked eagerly with anticipation.

“So, what sort of story would you like on this magical Christmas Eve?”

Curtis shot his arm up.

“Yes? You have a request, Curtis?”

“Grandad, please tell us about your career as a team leader in the financial services industry.”

“Oh my! Well I suppose that is my specialist subject – my life’s work. Are you sitting comfortably?”

“Yes Grandad!” cried Lucinda, the youngest, with a lisp. “Please tell us about the one to one monthly performance reviews.”

“Yes, Grandad. Tell us! Tell us!”

“Well, now this takes me back. Let me think. One to one performance reviews were a key way of checking in with your team members. You needed to keep them informed of how they were performing against their objectives. These meetings really were platforms for vital communication. And – as I’ve told you before – communication is the lifeblood of any business within the financial services industry. You need to know your team inside out and if you don’t communicate, you won’t know them at all.”

“How many one to one performance reviews did you do in your career Grandad?” asked Ryan, the second oldest.

“Oh! Oh my. You’re getting my old brain working now! Well, let me think. I usually had a team of at least ten people and I worked as a team leader for thirty years. So that’s about 120 monthly one to one performance reviews per year. So that makes about 3600 performance reviews during my team leader career within the financial services industry!”

“Wow Grandad, that’s really amazing,” said Curtis who was now up on his feet and spinning around with excitement.

“Now tell us about planning” cried Ryan, as he placed his little hands on my knees and bounced up and down.

“Well, I used a web based tool for planning my staff resource and it was vital that any shortfall in resource was addressed so that we kept on top of any incoming work.”

“Wow Grandad! You’re so amazing! I want to be a team leader too! It sounds simply super!”

“Well, Curtis. If you put your mind to it and refuse to have any vocational training, if you achieve average grades in your education, if you receive no career guidance of any value or merit, if you don’t specialise in anything, then maybe, just maybe, you could be a team leader in the financial services industry too.”

Curtis sprang up on to the arm of my arm chair and landed on his knees and looked at me with big, bright earnest eyes.

“Really Grandad? Could I really be a team leader like you for decades?”

“You know what?” I said, chubbing his cheeks. “I just think you could.”

“But what does it feel like Grandad? What does it feel like being a team leader?”

I looked him in the eye and paused. He gazed back at me with a face full of trust, admiration and wonderment as his brother and sister looked on, spellbound.

“Follow me” I said. “All three of you, if you want to know how it feels to be a team leader, follow me. Put your coats and shoes on, we’re going into the garden.”

“Really, Dad? Are you sure? It’s very cold out there.”

“We won’t be long.”

The three children put their coats and shoes on and filed out into the back garden behind me.

“Now, as you all know, I have a pile of manure in the corner of the garden.”

“Poo! Smelly poo!” said Ryan.

“Yes indeed. Now, Curtis, you wanted to know what it felt like being a team leader.”

“Yes Grandad, I really, really do!”

“So I want you to lie on the manure pile.”

“Dad, are you sure?”

“Go inside Beatrice” I snapped at my daughter. “I know what I’m doing and the boy must learn. Now, Curtis – lie on the pile of poo.”

“Er, OK Grandad.”

He clambered on to the pile of manure and lay down and I began pushing handfuls of manure onto his shivering body.

“There, Curtis. You’re on your own, coping with the shit from below while being shat on from above. That’s the life of a team leader in the financial services industry”.

“Can I get up Grandad? This is horrible. I don’t want to be a team leader anymore.”

“Ok. Let’s go inside and get cleaned up.”

Lucinda tugged my sleeve as we crossed the patio.

“Why do you only have one eye Grandad?” she asked.

“Oh, well, that’s another story.”

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