"I will see the two of you in my office as soon as we're finished here."
Violet began to giggle.
"And you too, who thinks this is funny. I will see all three of you in my office as soon as we
are finished here. Now, where were we?" Dimple started another diatribe on the wonders of this
appraisal system. The room was dead silent except for the sound of her voice.
"Any questions?" Mandy heard Dimple say. No one moved.
"Good. Then I have done an excellent job today as usual. You are dismissed. The three
musketeers follow me."
In single file the group followed Dimple down the hall to her office, like chicks following
the mother hen. She motioned for them to have a seat and slammed the door behind them.
"I was told I would find the likes of you here at Big Top. Behavior such as yours will never
be tolerated at Three Ring. So I suggest that the three of you remember that, or you will be out
on the street with no job at all sooner than you think."
Violet, Gary, and Mandy were as still as church mice. "Now for your punishment. I want
your reviews of every person on your staff on my desk by noon tomorrow."
"But Dimple," Violet interrupted, "I have forty-three people, and Gary just took over
Mandy's group of over fifty. And Mandy doesn't even know the names of half the people in
accounting yet. How can we give fair reviews to people we hardly know?"
"No ‘but Dimple' f rom you, young lady. They will be on my desk by noon. I will see if
Big Top has enough brains to follow my directions. You will just have to figure out what is fair
amongst yourselves. That will determine how much more work I have to do to get this motley
crew in shape."
They hung their heads in shame as they left the office, if only to make Dimple feel like she
had impressed them. After the episodes with Lisa Peeples, they had become well aware of who
they were dealing with. As soon as they were out of Dimple's field of sight, they raced down the
stairs and outside so that their conversation wouldn't be heard. They knew that if they huddled in
an office, the employees on their teams would get suspicious. The battle that was about to erupt
was first and foremost on their minds. They needed a game plan, and fast.
"Well, we're certainly going to earn that big fat salary now, aren't we, Mandy?" Gary was
being sarcastic, but Mandy could see how angry he really was.
"Let's not forget these instructions about the importance of a fair and accurate performance
appraisal," said Violet. "Oh, and look, it has suggestions for gently administrating the review to
the employee.
‘Show compassion for their situation, listen to their concerns, and let them speak freely.' I
think I'm going to throw up."
The three continued to pick at each other as they made their way across the enormous
parking lot. They found a picnic table at the far end and plopped down. Mandy had a feeling it
was going to be a long night.
"We have to list all our people and classify them. Then we can tweak it from there."
"I vote we just tell them all they are not fired today and be done with it." Gary was
"Ah, but you are forgetting that bell curve."
"You always have to be the spoiler, don't you, Mandy?"
They began to list names and ratings. Crumpled paper began to pile at their feet as they
crossed off, changed, and moved people in and out of categories. Their pencils began to wear
down to stubs. Gary got out his pocket knife to sharpen them. It was eight o'clock at night and
they were still sitting at the smoking table outside, writing, erasing, and calculating that perfect
bell curve. Finally, they had it done
"That's a wrap. We can key this into the spreadsheet tomorrow morning and have it on
Dimple's desk long before noon," said the always optimistic Mandy.
"What a bitch that woman is. But at least this is done," said the cynical Violet.
"We had better study the gentle administration, because once we start this there will be no
turning back. Get a good night's sleep!" Mandy was still cheery even at this late hour. Violet and
Gary slumped back into their seats with the thought of what tomorrow would bring.
There was no sleep for any of them that night. With circles under their eyes, at ten o'clock
the next morning, Mandy, Gary, and Violet, spreadsheets in hand, marched into Dimple's office.
"Good morning, Dimple. We have all our performance appraisals for you." Mandy was
leading the way.
"My, my, and you are even early. I really didn't think there was anyone at Big Top up to the
challenge. Let me look at this."
Dimple took the paperwork and started to examine it closely. She pulled a pair of halfglasses out of her desk drawer so that she could see it more clearly.
"Hmmm, hmmm. Nice touch adding the bell graph." She put the papers down and looked
at the three, who were anxiously awaiting her verdict. "I have to admit, you did a fine job. Now
go inform your employees. Go. That's all I have to say to you. Inform them all today."
As they walked down the hall, Gary murmured, "Now let the fun begin."
Mandy decided to start with the easy ones and work her way down the list. First she called
Andy into her office. He seemed to be one of the few people she had met on her new team that
didn't subscribe to the Bozo method of accounting.
"Andy, we have instituted a new performance appraisal system.
This system will bring some structure to how employees are rated in our company, allowing
you to know what your strengths and weak- nesses are, and what you need to work on in order to
"Andy, you have been rated You suck less than the next guy doing the same job, and you will
receive a five-percent raise. Five percent is very good."
Mandy held her breath.
"What? I suck? And the raise has always been ten percent. What could be so great about
only five?"
"Andy, please relax. You've been given the highest overall rating. I value your contribution to
the team."
"But you said I suck."
"No, I said that your rating is You suck less than the next guy doing the same job."
"Mandy, that sentence still has the words ‘you suck' in it. I give my all for this job—and
you're telling me I suck?"
"Andy. This is a new rating system. It will take some time to get used to it. Let's talk about
this again later when you've had the chance to let it sink in."
"Nothing needs to sink in. This sucks!" He got up and stormed out of the office. As he
opened the door, Cassie had already appeared, heading up a line behind her.
"What's going on? We heard yelling in Gary's office and they're all crying over in Violet's
area. I ran over here to find out what was happening. Everyone else was too chicken."
"Come on in, Cassie. One at a time. I'll be quick, you won't be waiting long."
Mandy knew to get them in, get them out, and suffer the consequences after that. There was
nothing in her repertoire of management skills that could save this.
"Cassie, we have a new appraisal rating system." She scrolled down the list to find her.
"Here you are, Cassie Schneidler. You have been rated You suck That's a four-percent raise.
Thank you. Please send the next person in."
"I what? I suck? What are you trying to tell me? Twelve years of hard work I've put in here,
and you're now telling me that I suck?"
"Yes, Cassie, that is your rating, and it's a good one. Would you like me to read you the
other ratings so you can see where you fall into the whole?"