Meet the merchants of morale;Last Word

11th June 1999 at 01:00
FANCY earning up to pound;10,000 a day? If so, you might like to know that there is a new breed of management consultant known as the "corporate motivator". Such people are hired by big companies to regenerate tired employees by giving them a bit of zip. Apparently the going rate for a corporate motivator is about pound;2,000 a day, and some charge five times as much.

These "new masters of motivation", according to an article in the Guardian, leap up in front of the workforce and, er, motivate them. They do this by using similes and metaphors - geese flying in formation, or someone scoring the winning goal. If teachers are as demoralised as is commonly said, then perhaps a few flying geese might help.

One guru says, "We don't make speeches . . . We increase the vitality of people's relationship with work by engaging them in a lively conversation." That was precisely what my Uncle Ralph used to do at work, but the foreman just told him off for making jokes about the management and distracting people. Uncle Ralph never earned more than 20 quid a week.

Another wizard tells people to run round the room and smile, as both acts trigger endorphins. Hello funny farm.

According to reports you need a bag of tricks to succeed as a corporate motivator. Trick of the trade number one is to use a clever metaphor, preferably a sporting one. Talk about "winning the race", "climbing the mountain", or some such.

Trick of the trade number two is to have a collection of trenchant sayings. One corporate motivator (pound;2,000 to pound;5,000 per day) tells his eager audience: "Opportunity is like a snowflake. When it touches your hand, it's gone."

I must admit this shrewd observation did fill a significant gap in my scientific knowledge. But he's dead right. Temperature of snowflake - 0 C. Temperature of hand - about 37 C. Result of warm hand touching ice cold crystals - snowflake melts. Brilliant. But, short of sticking your hand in the freezer, how do you seize these fleeting chances?

I have decided to set up a new agency for education that will revitalise the teaching profession: Specialist Corporate Academic Motivators. We at SCAM have recruited the world's finest exponents of talking complete cobblers to the easily impressed for very high fees. Their credentials are impressive, as our glossy brochure reveals.

Fiona Fforbes-Flannel Specialism: Motivating those teachers who are clapped out, but snobby.

Cost: pound;2,000 per day.

Subtle similes: "Children are like Champagne: shake them up and they go 'pop!'; leave them alone and they go flat."

Words of wisdom: "In my experience Tuesday always follows Monday, even when it's wet playtime, but it precedes Wednesday. Friday invariably comes at the end of the school week, and not too soon at that."

Brian Banality Specialism: PE teachers who have lost their drive.

Cost: pound;2,000 per day.

Subtle similes: "Teaching is like a canoe race: row with the current and you win Olympic gold, row against it and you're up shit creek."

Words of wisdom: "If you look back, you'll only see where you've been, but if you look forward, you'll see where you are going. This is particularly important when approaching a cliff edge with a 1,000 foot drop, or a revolving door."

Sally Sycophant Specialism: Crawling to the powerful.

Cost: pound;3,000 per day.

Subtle similes: "Getting promoted is like entering a dog show: rottweilers command respect, but poodles are more likely to win prizes."

Words of wisdom: "Always obey your excellent headteacher and you will never go far wrong; so can I have the money now please, in used notes, and would you like to book me for another week at 10 per cent discount?" Samuel Snakeoil Specialism: Symptoms of post- inspection trauma.

Cost: pound;10,000 per day.

Subtle similes: "A bad school inspection is like a hot air balloon with a slow puncture: one little prick can ruin months of hard work."

Words of wisdom: "After your inspection create your own endorphins. Run round the room and smile at the same time. You won't feel any better, but two nice men in white coats will come and take you away for a long rest."

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