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This Story Alllllmost Checks All The Boxes

, , , | Working | January 4, 2021

I am working as a trainer in an establishment in Saudi Arabia. My colleagues and I have devised a series of training courses and tests which, over a period of three years, we are to ensure that all our trainees pass, no matter what.

We will leave aside the question about the ethics of making sure everyone passes, whether or not they are actually competent to fill the position for which they are ostensibly being trained.

As an end product of this, we are then to record the overall results of these training courses in a folder by means of checkboxes where we are to enter ticks in the appropriate fields. And on final completion of all our forms, we then pass them on to our superiors in the establishment, who then stamp them as “approved.”

The years progress, and we manage to achieve our aim of getting our trainees through the training courses as required. We submit the forms and wait for feedback.

All are returned as “rejected”. We are told we have failed as trainers, and we will not receive the credit for having achieved our aim.

We go ballistic, as you’d expect. We demand to be told WHY the forms have all been rejected.

We are led into the office of the superior who issued the rejections where we have this meeting together with his boss. They look at the forms with faces that look as though they are inspecting sour milk for the presence of insect life. The superior gives us a verdict.

Superior: “Unacceptable. The ticks have not been placed neatly enough in the boxes.”

It turns out that some of the ticks had been allowed to stray a millimetre or two outside the boxes assigned for them. For such an outrageous breach of regulations and protocol, we all have been deemed to have failed our task, and the three years are all for nothing.

Naturally, our ire is incensed, and we raise the matter with our line management at our firm who contracted us out. Colourful language is employed, as would be expected. The question is escalated.

In the end, the director of the entire management structure was sent in, complete with his entire team of support staff, to the establishment to which we were assigned. A top-level meeting was held with the trainers, together with the gentlemen whose job it had been to approve our training reports.

The verdict was that the Saudi nationals who were trying to get away without paying the consulting firm for their work were instructed sternly not to turn this business into a “pissing contest.” The decision to mark the reports as non-compliant was overturned, and we were offered official congratulations from the REAL movers and shakers of the establishment for having achieved our aims of having trained the team to the required standard.