The Area Manager at one busy Zone 1 station has opted for the stick over the carrot in response to some disappointing scorecard figures for staff presence on platforms. The AM has instructed CSMs and CSSs to make daily inspections of all SATS duties, effectively creating another level of performance management on top of the existing CMS.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to some ill feeling. The staff doing the SATS feel like they're being spied on and micromanaged, and most of the CSMs and CSSs are resentful at having to do this unnecessary task when they're already overworked.
We all know the scorecard system is largely a nonsense, a semi-arbitrary system capable of capturing mere snapshots, which managers care about far more because of the link to their bonuses than out of any sincere commitment to improving the service. But if there are genuine performance issues with SATS, these should be dealt with within the parameters of existing performance management and coaching procedures, rather than by forcing supervisors to undertake micromanagerial busywork.
Meanwhile, staff on some areas are being herded into "Managing My Platform" workshops, at which they're told that "mystery shoppers" will no longer be scoring them on what they say, but rather on their presence and whether they're delivering "personalised" messages. The idea is that a new automated PA system will handle the informational basics and service info, leaving staff free to remind customers to carry water (or whatever). "Put your own personality into your SATS", staff are told.
Well, here at Tubeworker, "putting our personality" into SATS announcements would probably involve using the RPA to engage in revolutionary socialist oration and excoriation of LU bosses, which is probably not what the company has in mind.
The whole thing raises a few issues for us. Firstly, we're not performers. Not everyone has the inclination to turn SATS into a stand-up comedy routine (and frankly, without wanting to speak ill of our fellow workers, a lot of those who try aren't very good at it). If staff doing SATS want to keep their announcements to the basics, delivered clearly and simply, they should be able to.
Secondly, if LU is effectively saying that what we're actually doing and saying on the platform is secondary, and as long as we're there and saying something, that's alright... then doesn't that strongly suggest they're considering downgrading the safety critical nature of SATS duties?
SATS, remember, are one of the few regular tasks performed on stations that CSA2s, the new entry grade for station staff, can't do. As soon as this grade was created, many of us suspected that it wouldn't be long before LU decided to quickly train them all up to perform the few safety-critical tasks not covered by their current licenses, and consolidate the CSA grades downwards. These reforms to SATS could be an outrider for precisely that.
Our unions need to stand up for SATS as a key safety critical activity. If LU want CSA2s to do SATS there's an easy solution: promote them all to CSA1 and scrap the CSA2 grade.