NEW: Mr Banker

Nine careful steps, a plausible manner and a dash of chicanery will ensure a festive conclusion to bonus season.

Bonus time: read and learn

We are now in the last quarter of the bank’s financial year, the time when every banker’s fancy turns to bonuses.

Most of my colleagues are now careful to be seen in the office after 5pm to impress their superiors with their devotion to their work. Of course, extended hours are made more pleasant by modern technology that allows access to online gaming, discussion boards, and chat rooms from the desktop … but does it really help?

After all, endless hours in the office might also suggest poor organisation, an unwillingness to delegate, or an inability to prioritise (at least, these are the arguments I use in my efforts to push my colleagues further down the bell-curve).

I’m convinced that the right note to strive for is the “digs-deep-when-necessary”. Set out below is a tried and true routine, deployed as follows:

Superior: “Ahh, BoLR, I need your assistance. We’ve been asked to comment on Smith’s report about loans to Taiwanese manufacturers.”

BoLR: “Certainly. When would you like my views?”

Now, if the answer is “no hurry” delegate to one of the drones. But if our fish leaps on to the hook and provides a deadline, we are away.

Step 1: Find out what the answer is meant to be. (Are we criticising Smith regardless of what he says, or supporting Smith regardless of what he says? Find out if you don’t know.)

Step 2: Set the corporate research team in motion. Their mission (though you won’t quite phrase it like this) is to find vast quantities of slightly relevant background material.

Step 3: Identify some relevant queries to ask Smith. DONT ASK THEM YET.

Step 4: Just prior to retiring for the night, use the wonderful device known as a BlackBerry to dispatch your queries to Smith ensuring that a copy is cc’d to your superior, implying that you’ve been working all evening.

Step 5: Surely your morning arrival is timed so that you arrive five minutes prior to your superior? This morning make it 10 minutes, and change the time clock on your PC to say 5.53am. Send an email to your superior attaching the vast quantities of slightly relevant background material with a note along the lines of “Dear Superior, I’ve found a lot of potentially relevant background information. I’m not sure how much is useful. I’ll work through it and provide a summary”.

Decorate your desk with early morning detritus: takeaway coffee cups and McMuffin wrappers. You should also spread some of the vast quantities of slightly relevant research over your desk, marked carefully with highlighter and pencilled question marks, suggestive of you actually having read it.

Reset the clock on your PC.

Step 6: Repeat steps 3 & 4.

Step 7: Prepare your report. For the sake of the exercise, assume that Smith is currently a friend and so we wish to support him, albeit with the sort of muted support that will not attract the attention of any future scapegoating review. Your recommendation will therefore read something like:

Dear Superior,
I have read Smith’s report, and I have also reviewed various information provided by our research department. (Copies are attached but much of it is of limited use and I wouldn’t recommend that you examine in detail unless you have specific queries.)

Smith has obviously had the opportunity to consider the issue in quite some detail, and of course has considerable knowledge and expertise in the area. In the limited time available I am unable to argue against his conclusions.

Yours oblig,

Step 8: Repeat step 5, this time submitting the report. Choose a different time for the PC clock, perhaps 6.17am?

Step 9: Arrange a corridor conversation with your superior, keep as close to this wording as possible:

BoLR: “I may be in a little late tomorrow. It was Timmy’s birthday yesterday, and I was so busy on that Taiwanese thing that I didn’t quite manage to pick up his new bike. Will it be OK if I do it tomorrow?

The only catch is that children only have one birthday per year and it tends to be around the same time. So, if you find yourself working for the same person for more than 12 months, make sure that you keep track. With some imagination you’ll see how you can adapt the conclusion to suit other family situations such as a loved one’s chemotherapy, etc.


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