The Transition Team

Don’t let the name fool you. The Transition Team is where people go to die.

Metaphorically speaking at least. They don’t actually kill them. That would be against the departmental code of conduct.

The Transition Team is filled with people no-one wants. Some people call them ‘poor performers’. I call them ‘shit at their jobs’. And that is saying something considering the standards of work around here.

Some of the longer-serving transition team members are truly special individuals. Take David for example.

David doesn’t do any real work and no-one seems to really expect it of him either. But not only does he not do any work but he constantly gets in the way of others trying to work. The other day I saw him refuse to let a person in the building because they didn’t have their ID card with them. That person, who had been working on the same project as David for a good three weeks, had to stand at the glass sliding door and sheepishly call his manager just to get back to his desk from his morning tea and toast break.

What David lacks in social awareness he makes up for in old fashioned get up and go. Every Friday at 2pm he can be found with elbow-length rubber gloves systematically cleaning out the communal kitchen and merrily tossing away unmarked lean cuisines. No-one asks him to do this, and no-one really wants him to do it either, but it does occupy him for a few hours.

David is not the real problem though. He’s trying hard and wants to contribute. One could be forgiven for thinking he would quickly fall in to line if only someone could show him a firm hand and some strong leadership. Sadly, neither of those are common skills in the department.

The real problem though is the bureaucratic bullshit that prevents managers from dealing with these poor performers.

The department makes this ridiculously hard, so hard that it becomes immediately obvious to every manager that it is not worth their time trying to get someone fired. The effort required to fire a terrible employee is literally about 20 times the effort required to promote an employee.

Hence the creation of The Transition Team, which is essentially departmental purgatory. The destination for office wastrels to congregate and be allocated projects never expected to get off the ground, to ensure they don’t fuck up the actual work being done. They are the chubby faced hamsters of the department, scurrying happily in their rapidly turning hamster wheels, literally going no where.

Sometimes, when there is a new or desperate manager, the transition team will be raided. To these impetuous managers the transition team appears like a glorious oasis in the middle of desert. Freely available people who can commence a new project tomorrow. Jackpot! But after the dust settles on the burning wreckage that is the failure of these projects those managers know never to go back to the transition team. Once bitten, twice shy.

The main thing that irks me about the transition team is the level of waste. I have seen up to ten people sitting in the transition team at one time. If I extrapolate out a low estimate on their base yearly package to be $100k then we’re talking $1million spent EVERY YEAR just keeping poor performers in a job. And that’s just a single office from a single government department. If I assume we have a similar occurrence across all offices, across all departments, and across all three levels of governments then…well my mathematically-geared brain starts to want to curl up in the corner and cry. We’re talking a level of waste in order of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Every year. That’s a lot of money spent just keeping shit workers in their jobs because it’s too hard to train them or move them on.

That’s our tax payer money hard at work. Viva la Transition Team.

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