ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-27
"Come on, Mandy, or we'll be late for the meeting." Gary was rushing past her office.
"What meeting is this? I can't keep track anymore with all this takeover shit going on."
"This is the one about the new performance appraisal system. Someone from Three Ring is
showing us how to use their system."
"What was wrong with ‘Here's your ten-percent raise, thanks for nothing, see you next
"I guess Three Ring likes to do things by the book. Won't that be a switch?"
As they passed by the holiday cube, Mandy noticed it had turned red, white, and blue since
the last time she had checked.
"What is it? Flag Day or the Fourth of July? I don't even know what day it is anymore."
"Over the years I've noticed that not much decorating goes on between Memorial Day and
Labor Day. One theme covers all. She must go on summer vacation."
Mandy and Gary were handed a packet as they entered the room by Tiffany, who was now
the friendly HR clown. Tiffany much preferred her cheerleading outfit and pompoms. But there
was a new sheriff in town that thought Tiffany in a clown costume was more appropriate.
"Hi, Tiff!" They all exchanged a discreet, close-to-the hip wave so as not to be noticed. As
they waited for the meeting to start, Mandy flipped through the information in the packet.
"Gary!" She elbowed him to interrupt his conversation with Violet. "Check this out. Page six."
Page six displayed the rating categories along with an explanation of how each were to be used.
You suck less than the next guy doing the same job. You suck more than the next guy doing the
same job. You are fired.
You are not fired today, but beware tomorrow.
"Well, at least it's some kind of rating system. Isn't that what you wanted?" He began to
belly laugh uncontrollably.
Violet looked over at Gary as he was holding his stomach. Mandy repeated, "Page six."
Violet scrambled to find the page.
"Attention, attention." It was a voice none of them recognized. "Let's get started.
There was large woman standing in the front of the room who they didn't know. She was
yelling in an angry manner to get the noise to stop. She looked thin compared to Lulu. Where is
Lulu, anyway? No one had seen her since the merger announcement. The crowd began to quiet.
The voice remained loud and angry as she said, "I am Dimple Vanderdoober, The director of
Unenthusiastic applause broke out. "Dimple? Gary, did I hear that right?"
"You did. Hang on, ladies. I think we're going for a ride."
"I come from Three Ring. I'm going to introduce the first of many procedures that are
changing as part of our merger and integration. With that, let's get started. We have no time to
waste around here."
"Do you think that's her real name?" Violet whispered. "Well, Bozo was his real name, so
"The first change around here is there will be no earplugs. You will no longer be needing
them. Please pass them to the HR clown as she makes her way around the room." When Tiffany
got to Gary, she pretended to take his earplugs as he carefully slid them back into his pocket.
"Second change. Today is the last day of the three o'clock break. Enjoy it. Tomorrow it will
cease to exist."
The chatter started up again across the room.
"I have one rule in my meetings," shouted Dimple. "No side- bar conversations. Did you
hear me?" She yelled over the din, "NO SIDEBAR CONVERSATIONS! If you have
something to say, say it so the entire group can hear." She glared in the direction of Mandy and
"We're going to go through this new rating system today. I will go into depth on what each
rating category means and how to communicate that to your staff. This is the rating system that
we will use for every performance appraisal, beginning today. Then we will have a Q and A.
You have all been given informational packets. I strongly suggest that you read through them
thoroughly when you return to your offices."
"Let's get started. You suck. This rating is for your average everyday performers. They come
to work, they do their job, they don't complain. That is all you are ever going to get out of these
people. Since we will now be working with a bell curve, it is estimated that sixty percent of our
employees will fall into this rating."
You suck less than the next guy doing the same job. This is for your top performers. These are the
people you can count on to go the extra mile for you. In some systems this would equate to an
exceeds standards Any questions so far?"
The room was totally silent.
"Good, maybe you're smarter than I think. Let's move on then. You suck more than the next
guy doing the same job. This is for your marginal employees. This will be about fifteen percent of
the employee population."
"The next category is You're fired. These people are doing nothing all day and need to go. You
know who on your team will fall into this category. Lastly, You are not fired today, but beware
tomorrow. This is equivalent to a written warning. They may have some potential and are not so
horrible that they fall into the You're fired category."
Everyone in the room was stunned. They couldn't speak or move. Some managers did
understand that it wasn't normal to give every- one a ten-percent raise and be done with it. Most,
however, were afraid of the ensuing revolt once they had to explain this to the rank and file
"The next piece is in your packet, and it's important, so we need to go over it. Turn to page
Mandy felt like a young schoolgirl. If she didn't march along with the crowd, soon the nun
would rap her knuckles with a ruler.
This woman has never cracked a smile in her life. How would anyone have known whether
she really even had a dimple in order to have named her that?
You suck is a four-percent raise."
You suck less than the next guy doing the same job is a five-percent raise."
You suck more than the next guy doing the same job is a three- percent raise."
You're fired. No explanation is needed. No raise, they're gone."
You are not fired today, but beware tomorrow is a two-percent raise."
Mandy could not get a picture out of her head. Swords and knives thrashing all about.
Chairs and desks overturned. Hard drives erased. Monitors smashed. Blood-stained walls. The
chaos was devastating and all consuming.
"Gary, what are we going to do?" she whispered. "Get out the battle gear, that's for sure."
"But they might like being put on a written warning while still getting a two-percent raise,
don't you agree?"
"I think that's the least of our worries."
Dimple rapped her knuckles on the table. "There will be no side- bars in this room. The two
of you in the third row—please share with us your conversation. Now!"
Gary opened his mouth first. "We were just saying how nice it'll be to have a rating system.
That way our employees have a real picture of where they stand."
"Oh really? Why don't I believe you?"
Mandy chimed in. "That was it, Dimple. The employees have been asking for more structure