Many of the companies I’ve worked for over the years struggle with staff engagement.

They use staff surveys every 6 months to try and find out what the people want and they frequently do these surveys on the same day they coincidentally, just so happen to have a buffet or dress down day.

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It’s a load of bollocks and it never works. To build on the strategic mastery of buttering people up they then produce action plans (if you’re going to have a plan, have an ‘Action’ plan; it’s the manliest plan to have) to tackle the issues that are highlighted in the survey.

The reason it’s all bollocks is that the powers that be don’t believe in it. It’s just words. They don’t want to listen to what the people have to say and they don’t believe what the people tell them, because essentially the people are highlighting where the powers that be have got it wrong.

And the powers that be don’t like to be told they got it wrong, especially by the plebs they hire to carry out their masterful plans. They’re the powers that be for God’s sake! They got to the top because they know best. At least they believe they do.

What the powers that be really want is a pat on the arse and to be told, “Well done, guys, you’ve made some great decisions this year!” So these action plans are just words: hollow words delivered by someone who doesn’t believe a damn thing they’re saying and has no genuine desire to ever follow up and deliver upon those promises.

They are little more than a verbal tranquiliser to quieten the uprising masses.

What’s all this got to do with the price of French midfielders I hear you ask?

Well I ask you to read your season ticket letter. Or to be more accurate I ask you to read your renewal extension letter where the club asks you to renew your ticket for a season that ‘promises much’.

The letter continues, that after the appointment of Steve McClaren as Head Coach ‘We are looking forward to the 2015/16 campaign with genuine optimism’.

Of course you probably don’t need me to tell you that the letter also states that the club are ‘Targeting a top 8 finish and will be giving the cups a real go’. Well isn’t that just super-effing-duper!

You don’t need me to point out the obvious flaws and loopholes but I’m going to do it anyway!

Who are ‘we’…?

‘We’ are looking forward to the 2015/16 campaign with genuine optimism. Aye, to make a whopping great profit.

‘We are targeting a top 8 finish’. I’m targeting being 2 stone lighter by my summer holidays but unless I put the fork down and get off my arse and do some exercise then I’ll still be the wrong side of cuddly come autumn.

There are some slightly more robust statements in the letter, such as being confident of delivering exciting and attacking football and working hard to improve the playing staff. But until something happens, until something changes, then it’s all just words. It’s all just like those corporate action plans.

I mean, think about what Action Plan actually means. It’s a plan to take action. Imagine if the fire-brigade did that…? “Aye, Guv, this house is on fire. Best come up with a plan to do something about it.” Your house would burn down around you!

Imagine the Police watching a crime. You’d expect action if you were being mugged, not a sodding plan.

With any promise or commitment, either between a business and its employees, in a personal relationship, or even a promise you’ve made to yourself, such as losing weight or stopping smoking, it’s all just words and good intentions until the planning stops and the action starts. The action won’t start unless those making the promises actually believe in what they’re saying.

Right now the renewal deadline (after being put back twice) sits as June 19th. That’ll be nigh on four weeks since the season finished. No signings have been made.

Well, other than that of Stephen Tickle on the bottom of what looks like an increasingly desperate and hollow renewal plea. The new season starts in 7 weeks. Pre season training starts in just ten days.

transfer market

Do we believe what is in that season-ticket letter…?

Right now all we have are the words. Perhaps the club’s lack of action so far is because the powers that be at SJP still believe in profit over performance on the pitch.

Perhaps Mike Ashley is about to change. Perhaps he’ll go against his nature and spend the money in the transfer market that is needed to bolster the squad and have a realistic chance of competing at the right end of the league and in the cup competitions, even if it’s not value for money. Time will tell.

There is something good that I learned in one of the places I worked, which I think is relevant to the summer events at NUFC.

It’s a tale about a Scorpion and a Turtle.

They’re on a small island that is on fire. The turtle is scurrying off to safety when he bumps into the scorpion. The scorpion knows he’s going to die in the fire and the turtle knows the scorpion will sting him and kill him before he can swim to safety.

The scorpion suggests a deal that suits them both: if the turtle carries him to safety he won’t sting him. The turtle agrees.

The scorpion climbs on his back and off they set, fleeing the flames behind them. Halfway across the water the scorpion stings the turtle, dooming them both to death. The turtle asks, “Why did you do that?” The scorpion replies, “It’s in my nature.”