So it is, for those of us following the Gregorian calendar, January, the beginning of a new year. And for anyone who read my last blog post only to find some nicely illustrated but essentially dull stats, I thought I would attempt to make up for it with a look forward to what will be happening in the coming year – the one the cool kids are already calling 2015.

Firstly, this blog and its author are based in the United Kingdom, so the next (pauses and counts on fingers – trickier than you think while typing) four months will be an unholy and unsightly squabble between grown-ups over who should run the country. It hasn’t started in inspiring form, with the two main parties offering a choice of cuts or austerity. Or the other way round. It’s difficult to tell.

Either way, it won’t be edifying and won’t be of much help. So, enough politics, and thoughts of what the year will mean to those in the world of work this coming year:

January

Everyone comes back to work after a festive break. The employment tribunals resulting from that event at the work Christmas party starts in earnest.  One of the non-execs asks how the strategy document is going on, forcing someone to actually start writing it. Programme and Project Management Offices are set up across the land, and GANTT charts are started in earnest. Many are colour coded.

February

Weather happens, and the British infrastructure fails utterly to deal with it. On one particularly snow-filled day, in a business based in a town surrounded by hills and pretty much cut off from the rest of civilisation the MD decrees that anyone not coming into work will be subject to disciplinary proceedings, even those with the ability to work from home. Employee engagement levels at that workplace remain at zero. (True story, btw). In the PMOs, the debate about which colours are used on the GANTT charts to represent which projects enters its seventh week, and a special sub-committee is formed.

March

Expense forms pile up across the land as finance departments realise they need to get the books cooked finalised for audit. Several cases of spreadsheet palsy are reported, bringing an already teetering NHS Accident and Emergency service to its knees. Sufferers sit, rocking slightly in their chairs, hugging their knees, muttering about who the macros hadn’t copied across to the next spreadsheet, and weep at the lack of conditional formatting options. The HR department, having finished the last of the Christmas party tribunals, finally gets round to reviewing the employee survey results from last September. In the PMO, the use of cerise for the Finance Workstream is finally agreed, as long as the Capital Spending and Estates Programme can be chartreuse.

April

in the private sector, fears over the profit warnings in the annual accounts lead to a spate of CV polishing. In the public sector, fears of swingeing cuts following the forthcoming election results in a spate of CV polishing. In Accrington, Lancashire, Josiah Arkwright and Nephews, the last surviving manufacturers of CV Polish in the UK goes under, inundated by orders they cannot fulfil, and a lack of raw materials. Tragically, none of their staff can polish their own CVs, and can only get jobs in high street moneylenders. HR have finished reviewing the employee survey results and realise engagement levels have fallen by 10 percentage points. No-one wants to tell the board. In the PMO, the GANTT charts are baselined and ready to go, with seventeen full colour copies printed off on glossy paper for the Programme Board’s first meeting. Their first decision is to split the Capital Spending and Estates Programme into two separate workstream and ask for a new plan.

May

Election fever fails to grasp anyone, with the whole country thoroughly fed up with a series of ostensible adults having spent the  past months in a series of increasingly petulant spats causing children in infant school playgrounds to look away, embarrassed and slightly ashamed. No-one votes, and the party leaders agree to decide the election by playing a round-robin conkers tournament. None of them know where to get conkers in May, and a series of parliamentary committees are set up to investigate, In HR, the department is in meltdown after the CEO collared a junior member of the employee engagement team in the lift and asked them about the survey results, only trying to be conversational, to be honest. The team member, weakened by an extended juice diet they began in January, lets the cat out of the bag, The HR Director is summoned to present results to the board immediately, and every member of the C-suite demands an urgent people plan to improve engagement levels. In the PMO, the committee to colour in the new work streams has had to be put on hold as the PMO staff are seconded to prepare GANTT charts for the new people plans, as no-one on HR can use MS Project.

June

The first draft of the people plans are finalised and presented to the exec team. The item is pushed to the ends of their bi-weekly meeting, and falls of the agenda due to a lengthy discussion over which biscuits to have at their meetings. A special biscuit sub-committee is set up, and the people plans deferred until next month. In HR, the business partners have all gone on course to learn how to use MS Project, only to realise they went on the same course last year, but hadn’t needed to use it and had forgotten everything. The PMO baselines version 2.0 of the plan, but when the plan is printed out the colours of the Capital Spending Programme and Estates Workstream are too similar, and they have to start again.

July

The exec team hold a special away day at a chain hotel off the M6 to consider the results of the employee survey and the people plans drafted so far. The day begins with a lengthy discussion of where are you going on your holidays, followed by a heated debate on the proposals from the biscuit sub-committee. The CFO and CIO have to be physically pulled apart in an argument over whether Jaffa Cakes can actually form part of the sub-comittee’s purview. Eventually the people plans are agreed without any changes, as they have run out of time to go through them. The Strategy Director asks the HRD to ensure they are aligned fully to the company strategic plan. The HRD passes this on to the Head of Employee Engagement, unconsciously as an act of revenge for the conversation one of their team had with the CEO back in May. In the PMO, a new plan is baselined and sent out electronically, but the CIO’s PA rings to say that the CIO is red-green colour blind, and asks for one where the IT programmes are all done in shades of orange. The Head of PMO takes up base jumping as a form of relaxation, as yoga and meditation just aren’t cutting it any more.

August

Nothing happens, even though no-one is actually away for more than two weeks, but no-one will make a decision until another person is back from Florida, by which time they are in Fuerteventura. in HR, the Head of Employee Engagement tries to get approval for the supplier for the next employee survey, due in September, but the HRD is on a retreat in a monastery on a tiny Greek island accessible only by fishing boat and donkey.  In the PMO, the IT programmes have multiplied so much that they have used up every Pantone reference between 87 and 184.

September

The employee survey takes place, preceded by a huge poster campaign encouraging everyone to have their say and blogs from the CEO explaining how they can’t change things if they don’t have their say. the workforce, still riding their wave of apathy from May, refuse to complete their surveys, pointing out that they haven’t even seen the results from last time, let alone see any changes as a result. The Head of Employee Engagement and their team spend 27 hours over a weekend filling in more than 15,000 surveys online, only for someone at the supplier to point out that (a) only one survey is allowed through the system from any one IP address so only four have counted and (b) there are only 8,000 people at the company anyway. In the PMO, the annual plan has been approved by the CIO and is baselined again. All work streams are now nine months late and the timescales are reviewed to turn them all green before the report can go to the programme board.

October

The CEO has been playing golf with the CEO of a major competitor who have just been shortlisted as one of the grooviest places to work in a Sunday colour supplement, and emails the HRD from the ninth tee to demand they are on the same shortlist. The HRD calls the Head of Employee Engagement, but they are camping in the Lake District (having put off their summer holidays to get the survey sorted) and have dropped their BlackBerry in a beck where it was eaten by a pike. By the time they get back to the office the entire HR department has been trying to organise the visit of the survey company, but the CEO is not available of the mandatory interview as they are on a course at Harvard Business School on selling off the company’s shoes and leasing them back over a five year amortisation. In the PMO, timescales for the plans have been re-drawn, and the project objectives revised so they can be delivered by December. The IT programme activity line, which started out as a re-platforming of the company’s mainframe, now consists of “Go to PC World and get screen protectors for all the directors’ iPads”, until the procurement team see it and explain that PC World are not a preferred supplier.

November

The HRD and Head of Marketing and PR have got married after a whirlwind romance. They spent many hours together after the unfortunate hostage incident involving the Head of PMO and the Procurement Team in the PC accessories aisle of PoundWorld. It lasted for four days until the Police realised the “gun” was, in fact, a novelty Nintendo Wii controller from the electronic gifts aisle. While the happy couple are on honeymoon, the Head of Employee Engagement drafts an intranet bulletin on the employee survey results but fails to get it signed off due to unavailability of senior management. The new head of PMO doesn’t like GANTT charts and asks for all the plans to be resubmitted using the software they used at their last job, which only works on Linux machines.

December

The senior leadership team get Christmas bonuses after another year where they have reached their strategic goals (as revised) and go skiing. The HRD and Head of Marketing and PR have split up following an incident at the Marketing department’s Christmas party which went viral on YouTube before the Crown Prosecution Service successfully got a high court injunction to have it taken down and potentially used in evidence in future criminal proceedings. The Head of Employee Engagement is the most senior member of staff in on Christmas eve and signs off the headline on the employee survey and gets it published at 9:30pm on Christmas Eve night. No-one reads it. In the PMO. all programmes are wound up after an attempt to procure a Linux machine fails because “the forms weren’t filled in properly”. In preparation for the 2016 planning cycle, a member of the PMO patents 18 new shades of Orange.

Have a thoughtful and fun 2015, everyone.

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