“Your’e a Fart in a Whirpool”

25

Friday 03 January, 2014 by Uncle Spike

“A Fart In A Whirlpool” – yes, that’s how my boss described me once! Strange, eh? But for me, it was one of those life changing statements. Even now, a couple of decades later, it signifies and embodies a work ethic that made me who I am (whoever that is?).

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whirlpool

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Far from being an insult, what he had tried to explain was the reason for my lack of advancement, and as much as it might have been a little crass, I am forever grateful for his insight – it changed my outlook on my working life from that point onwards. He was dead right, by the way.

Let me take you back to the early days of my working for the bank – a loooong time before farming I can tell you. Like many modern large national companies, we had detailed appraisals of our work performance, every quarter in fact, and one’s annual appraisal rating was the ultimate measure of one’s success, or failure. It had tangible effects to, such as your appraisal rate directly influence your pay, with performance related pay, PRP, plus any thought of a job change or promotion was all dependant on your appraisal rating too – so all in all, it was pretty vital and integral to career progression, or stagnation.

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I had always been a ‘2’, or ‘less than effective’.

That meant I was not quite up to scratch and in turn, no pay rise, or a mediocre one at best. But damn it, I worked hard, really hard. I worked numerous hours unpaid every week, I volunteered for all the crappy jobs no-one else wanted and often went without lunch breaks when business levels demanded so. But was still a ‘2’. I even wondered if ‘2’ was my personnel number. Nope, I was just a ‘2’.

I went for a whinge to our senior boss, the District Manager.

He was sympathetic, yet unapologetic. Yes I was a known hard worker. Yes he praised my day to day achievements. BUT, and this was the crux of the matter, in the eyes of the management, I was indeed like “..a fart in a whirlpool…”

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He went on to explain. I needed to change but one thing – to work smarter, not harder. I needed to work less hours, but be more effective, to target my efforts, not spread them all over the shop like a manic 4 year old, saying “I’ll do it daddy, I’ll do it!” to every job in the damned branch. I needed to set specific goals and make them happen. I needed to…. well, grow up in the eyes of the management.

He then went on to explain it was not something you could be pushed into, but now that I had got to a certain point, where ‘I’ wanted to change, he said I could be taught. For the next 12 months I still worked hard, but more targeted and focussed than previously. I was still Mr Helpful, but not to the point that my own work suffered. I shifted departments, created my own niche and started to feel better about myself, realising at long last that I was making an impact – being effective.

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That was many moons ago. But I’ll give that guy something, he inspired me to admit I was wrong, he told me something that, deep down, actually rang so true it didn’t hurt, but motivated me into making a step change, for the better. The rest is history I guess. I was never gonna be god, never reach the dizzy heights of the upper echelons of management, but progress I did. Year upon year I practised what he told me, and the result was both tangible and satisfying. 

I guess even now, I still practise what he told me. We all get in these whirlpools from time to time, but we have to move to the side, to climb out, to make a difference each and every day, and to make it count. Funny how a few crap appraisals and a ‘telling off’ by your boss can motivate one for years to come. Thanks boss!

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25 thoughts on ““Your’e a Fart in a Whirpool”

  1. LadyPinkRose says:

    I really enjoyed the read, Uncle Spike. Good to know that you took that “criticism” and improved YOU. You could have gotten indignant and created a poor attitude which would have brought you even lower then 2. But you didn’t. A fat in a whirlpool …. what a description! I had to laugh. I just had to!!! Love, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Uncle Spike says:

    Maybe you should use that line at your next management seminar Dave 🙂

    Like

  3. The problem is the unequal power dynamic in most workplaces . . . some are going to 360 degree evaluations, which might make some improvements. The IWW had it right . . .
    Are you poor, forlorn and hungry?
    Are there lots of things you lack?
    Is your life made up of misery?
    Then dump the bosses off your back.

    Like

  4. Gill McGrath says:

    Now I know why the banks went the way they did……. you left!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, presenteeism or working long hours doesn’t mean you are a better worker than others.

    Like

  6. Jennifer G says:

    Sometimes I get overwhelmed feeling like I have to try to do it all to keep up! Thanks for the reminder to just focus on a few tangible goals at a time to work toward success!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous says:

    Haha love this. It’s amazing how a small statement can change your perspective.

    Like

  8. You reminded me of all the performance appraisals I endured when I worked in a bank. Glad that’s over!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Joe says:

    Great post Spike but I can’t get the image of a fart in a whirlpool out of my head, LOL. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. fredrieka says:

    A good work ethic is sadly missing these days! A good heads up..:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good story Spike. It reminded me of an appraisal story of my own. I was only a youngster and the Sunday School teacher gave an assessment of me to my dad. He said “Andrew is frustrating, he appears not to take any interest but underneath he is learning and taking it all in and when I ask him a question and he gives me the answer I know that he has been listening all the time”. I took this as a sort of reverse compliment and then spent the next 50 years trying to perfect my talent for casual disinterest both at school and then at work. It didn’t always do me a lot of good because my teachers used to get cross with me and at work I used to get some similar appraisals to your own.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You said it, perfect 🙂

    Have a nice day, Uncle spike.

    Liked by 1 person

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