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Handbags, gladrags and other deliveries

(I was going to name the delivery company in this article. But if I do that, other companies who are likely employing the same methods will look better than they should. Know that the company concerned delivers many Amazon parcels. For now we shall call it Copper Pot. Have a guess at the real name; you are probably right)

If the following is true it is appalling.

I was talking to a Copper Pot Delivery driver who, just like all his colleagues, has to work under these conditions:

1. He must operate ‘to the minute’ delivery slots

Thus if you are home and – let’s call him -- Dennis arrives three minutes early, he can’t give you your neatly wrapped, dapper new hat and be on his way. He must hang around outside your house until the clock strikes 16.38. Then he must take a picture of the parcel inside an open door before you can accept delivery.

Incidentally it doesn’t seem to matter whose open door is featured, just an open door will do.

This means that Dennis cannot, for example, deliver all six drops in an area in quick succession and grab a quick cup of tea at Mrs Miggin’s Café as a small treat. Such everyday little luxuries are denied him.

All this by order of The Peaky…the management.

2. He has to take a photograph of the delivered parcel inside a door on each drop.

By order of the management.

Last week Dennis arrived at a house where the owner was up a ladder clearing the gutter.

“Just leave it there, mate.” Came the cry.

Dennis did as he was asked, taking his picture by a closed door. He was in trouble

3. He must endure the 3-point penalty

When Dennis returned to base he was summoned to the office and asked to explain the photograph of the closed door and parcel. He told his boss about the man up the ladder.

“Not good enough. You have to make the homeowner open the door.”

Apparently, Dennis’s attempts to explain how impractical, not to mention rude, this would be, were waved away and he was fined 3 points.

It is very easy to pick up three points. You can pick them up without your knowledge, if you are trying to make up time and somebody doesn’t like your diving, for example.

When you hit 21 points you are laid off for two days without pay and it goes on your record. By order of the management.

Dennis has been laid off more than once. This is common.

One day Dennis was lost trying to find a farm. He phoned the farmer who sent one of his workers down a lane to meet Dennis to collect the parcel.

“Who is that?” asked the manager, querying the signature and the photograph. Dennis explained

That was three more points. By order of the management.

…we don’t talk about…

The first rule of good management is never ask a junior colleague to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. Does anybody reading this, for one second, believe that Copper Pot managers have to arrive at their destinations timed to the minute. That they are allowed no discretion in their job roles. That they are not allowed to stop for a coffee, that they are ticked off to the strain of three points when they park badly, that they are laid off without pay for trivial transgressions of a code into which they have had no input, or that they have to take a photograph of every meeting room they enter to show that they were there?


  • Copper Pot delivery drivers are allowed no Autonomy

  • Copper Pot drivers are given the Resource they need to do their job in so much as they are given a van. But they are denied the resources of time, latitude and joy.

  • Copper Pot drivers are not trusted to do their job. Instead every move they make is monitored, by order of the management.

So, if my source is true – and as Dennis is a Copper Pot delivery driver, he should know - Copper Pot drivers operate in a low freedom, high surveillance, carrotless, stick-based world of dystopian managerial control.

Autonomy, Resource and Trust are three markers of a great job. A Copper Pot delivery driver scores half out of three. By definition Copper Pot are an appalling employer.

I could bang on about the value of a strong Trades Union here. Do you think that Mick Lynch has a moment? But above all we need D, oops almost, Copper Pot, to take its dim corporate head of the sand and apply science instead of myopic stupidity.

Here you go, an offer of significant improvement

Take the Knight Index. It is a corporate diagnostic. I have developed it and it has been launched with the help of terrific collaborators. It is the best tool of its type there is. The Knight Index will highlight strengths, weaknesses and what you need to do to increase wellness, happiness and productivity at Copper Pot. And if it can’t highlight the road to improve all three of these variables, we will refund our fees.

In nearly 20 years of applied research, Copper Pot would seem to represent the apotheosis of bad practice. Its methods chime with managerial hubris and fly in the face of science. Copper Pot is a psychological horror show put on by a company that does not understand – and probably does not care to understand – its staff. In the name of simple humanity, never mind science, put it right!


Quebec delivery: By Conrad Poirier - This file has been scanned and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons with the gracious permission and cooperation of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and Wikimedia Canada under the Poirier Project., Public Domain,

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