Santa’s Post-Christmas Performance Appraisal

Hi Nick. Take a seat. Thanks for coming. How’s the family? Reindeers doing well? I heard Rudolph was nursing a cold. Hope he’s okay.

Now, look the reason we’re meeting today is to review this year’s performance and is part of the new performance appraisal system we have set up. All staff, the elves included, are being evaluated in this way, and you’re next on the list. First of all, and before we begin, would you like a tea, coffee?

No thanks. As you can imagine, I’ve had plenty of refreshments on my rounds. Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!

Yes, quite. Okay so we asked you to fill in the self-evaluation sheet, which you’ve already done and submitted – thanks for that – and I’ve read through the form. You’ve said that you’ve met all your objectives and expectations for the year, that you’re very happy with your performance this Christmas. You don’t see any areas for improvement or things that you would have done differently – although you do say that some of the world’s kids need to be good – and you don’t identify any further training or development needs. Is that correct?

Yes, that’s right. Ho, ho, ho!

Thank you for that. Here is our own assessment of your performance, filled in by myself and the rest of the management team. As you can see, while we recognise your hard work and your ability to get along with many different people, and children, from all over the world, allowing them to sit on your knee, listening carefully to their requests, asking them if they’ve been good, reading their letters and so on, we feel that this year’s performance could have been better.

But I delivered all the presents?

Yes, that’s true

And I delivered them all on time

Yes, also true

And there are more children than ever

Yes, also very true. However, our main concern is that what you’re doing lacks hard evidence and is driven purely by instinct and your charisma, and as you will no doubt be aware, there is in today’s competitive climate a real need to base what we do on ‘what works’ and experimental findings.

I delivered every single present

Okay but did you do that as well as you could?

I’ve been doing it a long time

Yes, but can you tell us how you did it? What evidence informs your practice?

It just happens, doesn’t it?

Well, to help you there, we’ve enlisted technical expert, Dave Pavlov, to make thing more productive.

Who? Has he ever done my job? Does he know my kids like I do?

No, not exactly, but he’s built up a large portfolio of evidence based on his observations of other delivery systems that tell us what works best, and what he has done is to break down your system into bite-sized, measurable chunks and recommends that through the year you practice these micro-skills over and over again, hour after hour, so that by next Christmas your performance will be even more expert. He’s identified for example that your chimney-entry technique could be streamlined.

But if it just happens, how can it be broken down? He’s making it all up, isn’t he?

Look, Nick, we have also surveyed the world’s children and asked them how satisfied they were with you and your delivery and unfortunately the feedback was not as positive as it should have been.

Which children? You didn’t ask the ones that weren’t given a present this year because they had been naughty, did you?

As you know, this is a results business, and if the results aren’t good, then the business is in jeopardy. Also, hand on heart, can you honestly say that the kids of the world have been as good as they can be this year?

Hand on heart? But that isn’t my job. I’m supposed to be there to reward them for being good by giving the good ones presents. My job isn’t to tell them how to behave. That’s the responsibility of the parents or whoever is looking after them.

But we feel, and have evidence to prove it, that your quality is much more important than say the quality of a child’s home life or the income of the parents, and all the other excuses for bad behaviour in children. So, look, Nick, this is where we go from here: We’ll be setting up a programme of professional development courses early next year, where you’ll be trained in the micro-skills that Pavlov has identified. There is also money available to fund educational management courses at Lapland University, and to participate in a small research project here at the workshop. We’ll be checking your progress with the on-line journal that you’ll complete and with meetings with your course tutors, and we’ll meet with each other again this time next year to see how it’s all been going.

Is this a joke?

Look we know that you’ve a lot of experience, and you’ve been used to a particular way of doing things, but there is always room for improvement and Pavlov’s innovative approach is driving up standards across the world.


Thanks again for all your effort this year, and we hope to see this redoubled next year. Just a couple more things before you go. We’d like you to fit a tracking device to the sleigh and to each reindeer. I’ll ask IT to get in touch next week. Based on the data, we can then identify optimum performers and those who might need some gentle prodding. We’ve already fitted them to the elves and we’ve seen productivity rise significantly. Also, we are a little concerned with how you dress at the workshop and on your sleigh. You see, it doesn’t quite fit with our new corporate image, an image that our consultants tell us is better for morale and enhances performance. It also cost a fortune. We’ve got most of the elves on board, now how about ditching the red and white thing, and is there any way you’d be able to smarten up the beard and the baggy outfit?

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