I am in a bit of a grump. I feel that I have been conned, shanghaied, yes, even shamelessly lied to, by omission if nothing else.
And it’s all because of a pantomime.
Both my kids are in the local panto at the Corn Exchange, and I thought I’d do my parental bit and be a chaperone this year.
A not insignificant amount of paperwork later, I was in, feeling slightly apprehensive about the prospect of looking after 13 kids, 8 of whom I’d never met. But it was chaperoning – how hard could it be?
Turns out the panto organisers have a very different definition of what a ‘chaperone’ does. (And just to be clear, their definition is incorrect).
My first misgivings were raised two days before the curtain rose for the first time when I received an email with the message: “Chaperones in the dress rehearsal were great – they made sure the kids didn’t miss their cues”.
I went red. I started to panic. What had I got myself in for? I didn’t know the play, the kid’s cues or the costumes. Plus, I’d never been backstage at the theatre, EVER.
Anyway, as the saying goes “your word is your bond”, and it was far too late for me to back out.
First night, the kids were feeling some nerves, as was I; and the nerves were only exacerbated when I had my “induction”. It lasted two minutes, and my main instruction was along the lines of,
“The girls change to pigs and then to rats and then to kids but some stay as rats, and some have a really quick change, so you will need to be on your toes, but the second half is fine. Okay, break a leg!”
As you can imagine, my chaperoning duties got off to a hellish start.
I’ve had less problems dealing with gross misconduct dismissals than I did changing ten-year old girls into rat costumes and trying to make sure they made cues in a panto I didn’t know anything about.
Thankfully I was saved by my co-chaperone who had done it before.
Anyway, there’s a lesson here and it’s about the importance of keeping your employees in the loop, both before you employ them and whilst they’re working for you.
Are you writing realistic job descriptions that actually reflect what the role will be like?
Are you providing a thorough induction process so new employees know exactly how to do each task?
If you’re not, something’s got to change. What’s the point of having an employee who’s resentful about the story they were spun to get them on board? Or an employee who’s woefully underprepared or under qualified for the task you want them to perform?
All I know is, I won’t be ‘chaperoning’ again…
P.S. We did make all our costume changes and cues, so I feel I have done my part to continue the great panto tradition!