TIME SOMETHING CHANGED
It's time for the annual staff appraisals. Vance makes a valid point to Gibbs to which Gibbs reacts.
An established relationship story.
Written: January 2011. Word count: 1,150.
"You wanted to see me, Leon?" Gibbs strode into Vance's office.
Vance looked up at his senior field agent. "I'm still waiting for the appraisals of your team, Gibbs." Gibbs gave a half shrug. Vance closed the file he'd been reading. "You haven't done them, have you?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
Gibbs gave another half shrug. "I've been busy."
Vance spoke sharply. "So has everyone else. However, they have made the time. I want them done, Gibbs. I expect them on my desk in two days time."
Gibbs sighed. "Ah, Leon, nothing's changed."
"Nothing's changed since I did them last time."
Vance reached for another file, opened it and glanced down at the report. He frowned and looked back up at Gibbs. "Which was two years ago," he said. "Gibbs, you know these appraisals are an annual thing. And they have to be carried out. They are mandatory."
"There are more important things to do than staff appraisals. You know, like catching criminals."
Vance sighed. "I know that, Gibbs. But those in charge of these things don't see it that way. They see it as a crime not to complete them."
Gibbs rolled his eyes and gave yet another half shrug. "Yeah, okay, okay. But as I said, Leon, nothing's changed."
Vance closed the file and stood up. "Well, Gibbs, it's about time something did."
Gibbs frowned. "What?"
"I said it's about time something changed. Are you telling me, Gibbs, that in two years nothing on your team has changed? That no one has developed or improved or gained new skills or maybe has a problem or isn't working to his or her full capacity or needs extra training or is exceeding expectations or is worthy of being considered for promotion or has reached his or her plateau? Is that what you're trying to tell me, Agent Gibbs? Because if you are, then something is very wrong with the members of your team, which of course reflects on you." He spoke sharply and glared at Gibbs. Gibbs met the glare and simply stared silently back at Vance.
Vance sighed and sat back down. "Sit down, Gibbs," he said.
After a second or two Gibbs sat. "Leon, my team -"
Vance interrupted him. "Look, I know you're happy with your team, I know you get the results the agency demands. I know you all work hard, at times sometimes too hard. I know how dedicated you and your team are, how driven you all are." He paused for a moment wondering whether to go on. He decided to. Speaking a little more quietly, he said, "And I know there isn't a better team within the agency." He was pleased to see a fleeting moment of surprise and a hint of gratitude flash across Gibbs's face, before it became unreadable once again. The praise given, he went on with, what had become, his lecture. "However, you can't just say 'nothing's changed', because that is not possible. People do change, circumstances change, behavior changes, attitudes change, priorities change, wishes, wants, needs, expectations change. Everything changes; change is part of life. You know that, you donít need me to tell you. Now I need those appraisals and I need something to have changed. Do you understand?"
Gibbs nodded. "Sure, Leon," he said. "Are we done?"
Vance counted to five and then another five. "Yes, Gibbs," he said, "we're done." He watched as Gibbs stood up and left his office. Then he sighed and returned to the report he'd been reading before Gibbs had arrived. Despite his clear order he wasn't completely confident that in two days time he would have the appraisals for 'Team Gibbs' or if he did, they wouldn't simply be a copy of the ones Gibbs had produced two years ago. He didn't want to consider whether they had been rehashed ones or not.
TWO DAYS LATER
Vance's phone rang. He picked it up. "Yes?"
"Agent Gibbs is here; he would like to see you, Director," Vance's assistant told him.
"Ask him to come in."
A few seconds later Gibbs appeared. "Leon."
"Gibbs." Vance waited for a moment or two. "You wanted to see me?"
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah." He handed Vance a piece of paper. "The change you wanted," he said, as Vance took it.
Vance looked down at the paper and didn't know whether to laugh or become angry. The form was notification of a change of address and it needed him to sign it before Gibbs sent it to Human Resources. He recognized the Reston address instantly. He put the form on his desk and looked up at Gibbs, studying him for a moment or two, still torn between anger and amusement. "It's not quite what I had in mind, Agent Gibbs," he finally said.
Gibbs shrugged. "You wanted something to change, Leon," he said. "Something has." And then before Vance could comment he added, "You didn't say what kind of change you wanted, just a change. Are you going to sign it?"
Vance picked up his pen, shook his head in resigned acceptance and scribbled his name at the bottom of the form before handing it back to Gibbs. For a moment they just started at one another.
Then Vance decided to accept the inevitable. He sighed to himself, pulled a blank piece of paper towards him and began to write. "I assume everyone has met the targets you set them last year?"
Gibbs nodded as he folded the form in half. "Yep."
"And that you are satisfied with their achievements?"
"And you have no concerns or worries over their development within the job?"
"And their skills are up to standard? And that any and all regulatory renewal certificates are up to date? "
"And there aren't any particular courses or extra training you would recommend for any of them?"
"And that you have set realistic targets for the forthcoming year?"
"And that no one has any particular issues or questions or concerns that need to be brought to my attention?"
"And that no one has expressed the need or desire to talk to Human Resources or a Counselor or has any problems with their job or any other member of staff?"
Vance sighed. "Very well, Gibbs," he said. "I'll sign the appraisal forms."
Gibbs acknowledged it with a nod before turning on his heel and heading towards the door.
"Gi- Jethro." Gibbs stopped and looked back. Vance nodded at the form in Gibbs's hand and then stared directly at Gibbs. "It's a good change," he said quietly.
Gibbs held his stare for a moment. Then he gave Vance a quick smile. "Thanks, Leon," he said, before nodding and turning back to the door.
"If only you weren't so damned good, Gibbs," Vance said, smiling ruefully as he returned to reading yet another report.
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