Ben sat uncomfortably on a lumpy chair in front of Mary, his company’s HR manager.
“Ben, you need to tell your trainee that she can’t wear those tiny clothes to work. This is an office, not an exotic dance studio.” Mary twisted her nose with disgust.
“Come on Mary, shouldn’t we be more inclusive? You know, demonstrate that we are a progressive employer.” Ben smiled amiably.
“We have standards here. They’re not very high as we have hired you, but we have standards.” Mary insisted.
“Ha! She’s only here for work experience and will be gone in a couple of weeks. “
“No one is getting any work done around her. You will be gone in a couple of weeks if you don’t tell her how to dress appropriately around here. ”
“It’s creepy for a middle aged man to tell a teenage girl what to wear.”
“You’re her manager. Use the ‘shit sandwich’.”
“Start by praising her. Then deliver the message, yes the shit. Then end by praising her again. Shit sandwich – text book management technique.”
Ben rolled his eyes and walked back to his office. He grabbed Natalie on his way.
“Hey Nat, how’re you doing? I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your contributions to the team. “
“Oh thanks Ben. I’m doing well. People are friendly here.” Natalie tugged at her very tight shirt and smiled.
*Good, that went well.* Ben was pleased with his first piece of bread.
“Do you have trouble breathing and feel dizzy sometimes?” Ben moved to the filling.
“Sorry?” Natalie looked wide-eyed at Ben.
Ben held his breath and rested his gaze on her shirt stretched so tightly it looked like a rope. The shirt buttons gripped white knuckled at their buttonholes threatening to let go at any moment.
“Oh, my shirt?” Natalie took the cue.
“Yeeeaaah”. Ben let out his breath like a rapidly deflating balloon.
“It’s two sizes too small for me. That’s the size that I am trying to get to.” Natalie tightened her lip with a determined look.
“Oh, and how long will that take?”
“I don’t know. I’m trying to lose 1 kg a week. Maybe 4 weeks?” Natalie smiled.
Then Ben saw an opportunity.
“You’re a HiPo – a High Potential. This means stretch goals. I’ll challenge you to accomplish this in one week instead of four.” Ben squinted his eyes and gave Natalie a thumbs-up as encouragement.
“Really? “ Natalie was awestruck by how supportive Ben was of her personal goal.
“Absolutely. Put this over your shirt in the meantime. We can have the big reveal when you achieve your goal. “ Ben grabbed a high vis on his desk and threw it triumphantly over to the hopeful Natalie.
*Sandwich served.* Ben felt victorious.
“Ben, you’re the best manager ever. Now that I know you have my back, I can’t wait to get my Mohawk and my nose pierced.” Natalie gleamed.