A/N Thanks to all reviewers. I'd like to dedicate this story to all Human Resource professionals, particularly those working in Training and Development, who will never, ever admit that there's a little bit of a 'Baxter' in all of them!!
"Psst!...Probie!" Tony muttered as quietly as he could through the corner of his mouth.
Eventually catching his attention, Tim responded by raising an eyebrow. Tony mouthed silently, "Zeeeee….vaaaaah" and then pursed his lips in an exagerrated kiss and then winked. McGee blushed instantly, coughed nervously and shifted slightly in his chair to avoid eye contact with Tony.
As Baxter droned on and on, recapping and summarising, Tony scanned the room and his eyes met with Jimmy Palmer who smiled slightly. Tony responded by crossing his eyes and pulling the corners of his mouth down, making Jimmy giggle.
Ducky leaned over, "Is there something wrong with you again Mr Palmer? Don't tell me you are feeling poorly again?"
"Uh…no Doctor…I'm fine…I think" Jimmy beamed, strongly resisting the urge to look back at Tony who was now staring ahead stone-faced.
Abby was Tony's next target and he quickly scribbled a drawing of a hangman's noose and a drawing of Baxter's face in it., with a speech bubble saying, "focus people". After five minutes of constant eye contact, he eventually caught her attention and as soon as Baxter turned to write on the flipchart he turned his notepad towards her and beamed wickedly. Abby began to snigger and Jimmy caught sight of the drawing and immediately started to chuckle quietly.
As Tony struggled to stifle his laugh, he missed the fact that Gibbs had risen from his chair. He gripped Tony's arm and led him quickly to the door.
"Excuse us for one minute" Gibbs snapped at Baxter, who, oblivious to what had been happening, stood frozen to the spot and simply nodded an acknowledgement.
In the corridor Gibbs spun Tony round and let loose with a hard whack across the side of his head.
"Yeeooww!!!….Boss! Now that really did hurt" his face contorted and he furiously blinked his eyes. He gulped as Gibbs cold eyes did their usual magic,
"I do not like having to sit through this fiasco any more than you do DiNozzo, but when you are in that training centre you are representing my team, and right now my team looks more like a kindergarten than a room full of Federal Agents! Now you cut the crap, get your ass back in that room and suck it up for the next fifteen minutes till we are cut loose from this. Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal clear boss" Tony responded quickly and then sheepishly followed Gibbs back into the room, grimacing and rubbing his head. No-one was in any doubt what had taken place outside as Tony's squeal had been heard from the corridor. As he returned to his seat, Tony sat still and folded his arms and kept his head down until Baxter spoke,
"So, people, I'll give you out this paper with the key questions which will form the basis of your action plan, if you could work individually on this for the next five minutes, we will then share some of your thoughts on what you have learned this morning and what you will use in the future"
There was silence as paperwork was handed out and during the following five minutes as the team scribbled away. Baxter interrupted the silence,
"Ok, guys, for this final part of the workshop I'd like you to share some of your reflections on what we have covered today and with your permission for you to reveal something from your action plan which perhaps the others might find useful to also consider"
Through deep sighs and stifled yawns, he continued,
"So if we could start from this side of the room, Abby, could you perhaps tell us about your action plan? What will you do differently the next time honey?"
Abby stood up and scanned her notes, "I think the next time I'm going to have an appraisal, I'm going to wear purple. There have been lots of studies and experiments and stuff and they've all come up with the same conclusion that purple is the most calming color. So that will help me and Gibbs calm down…..wow! I've just realised that I have this really cool dress with cute little black diamonds on it….I could keep that good just for appraisal days….note to self, must try on purple diamond dress tonight to see what shoes match...ah yes, perhaps the pink boots, they might be ok….McGee likes them too….kill two birds with one stone huh….keep Gibbs calm and Timmy happy"
Abby beamed and sat down. Baxter took a few seconds before responding, his brain quickly trying to find an encouraging response,
"Thank you Abby, that was very insightful. Although we did not cover body language and dress in an appraisal situation, setting the right tone is quite important….uh….Ducky would you like to go next and briefly share a reflection with us"
Ducky frowned and removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose,
"I'm afraid I'm still trying to determine what I can successfully do differently in the future, contrary to how I deal with things currently. Young man, I'm dreadfully sorry, but I really do have nothing to contribute"
Baxter frowned in dismay, "You don't?"
Ducky shook his head and Baxter, confused, but relieved that he would not have to experience another drawn out conversation turned his attention to Jimmy, before Ducky changed his mind,
"Jimmy, what about you?"
"I think next time; I'll take some stomach pills in advance. These kinda things always make me a little nervous; I guess that's what I'd do…differently"
Ducky pursed his lips, "you and I will have to seriously discuss the impact of your constant abdominal issues later Mr Palmer, perhaps the time has come for you to have a complete physical"
Jimmy paled and began to open his mouth, but was unable to form any coherent speech and so simply slumped in his chair.
"Ok, who would like to go next?"
"MaaaGeeee" Tony feigned a cough rather loudly.
"Special Agent McGee….Tim….Timothy…..would you care to share?" Baxter smiled sweetly at his new found friend.
"Uh…next time in an appraisal I'll be more prepared…with uhm….facts and evidence…those sorts of things"
Baxter placed his hands on his hips, "excellent response….you…boy scout…you"
As each member of the team raised their eyebrows, Baxter blushed a little and then turned to make eye contact with Tony.
"Tony, you're turn"
"My action plan for appraisals would involve doing exactly what I'm told, when I'm told and paying very close attention to the job in hand"
As he stared straight ahead he swallowed hard and then gave a quick sideways glance at Gibbs who had begun smirking softly.
"Admiral traits Tony, good job…..Ziva….anything you would like to share?"
Ziva inspected her finger nails and pouted, "I must admit I prefer the way the Mossad handles appraisals, this way is not the way we would deal with people who are incontinent"
There was a ripple of sniggers round the room. Baxter furiously tried to remain stone-faced, "How does the Mossad deal with people who are….incompetent?"
"We shoot them"
Baxter's eyes widened, "a unique and somewhat radical approach I'm sure, I take it the Mossad don't do the whole employee development ethos well then?"
"On the contrary, the Mossad take training very seriously, there is a 100 percent pass rate in all of our courses and workshops……admittedly we do terminate those who fail to meet the standard, but our trainees are the best"
"I'm beginning to like the Mossad" Gibbs said quietly as he glared at Tony.
"So is there anything that you found useful from today Ziva?" Baxter added.
Ziva shook her head. Baxter responded by sighing and cupping his hands in his face, "I'm sorry Ziva, perhaps, if you take another look at your workshop notes when you go back to your desk, there might just be something in there that you find useful"
Baxter swallowed hard and found it difficult to make eye contact with Gibbs, "Agent Gibbs, what about you? What did you find useful about today?"
Through the silence, Baxter wilted under the deathly eye contact, "Ooo…kay….I gotcha!" he said quietly before turning to his course notes.
"Ok, people that concludes our workshop. I'd like to thank you all very much for your time this morning and for your participation. It's been my pleasure to have facilitated this learning experience for you. Now remember, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to give me a call, you'll find my number on the Human Resources page on the NCIS internal website"
The training centre cleared in less than five seconds. With the exception of Gibbs, who headed straight for the Directors Office, the team returned to their desks, grateful to be eventually released.
Baxter Murray sat and stared at the empty training centre and resolved to phone his Uncle Harry at the weekend, to see if he needed help at the Boutique.
Gibbs strode purposefully towards the Directors door and was stopped in his tracks as Cynthia struggled hard to retain her giggles,
"I would NOT….go there….if I were you" Gibbs said firmly as he frowned at her sternly.
Cynthia's face fell and she spluttered her reply, "She is …expecting….you…Agent Gibbs"
Gibbs barged through the door and took up position in front of the desk,
"Agent Gibbs, I assume that the Workshop is over, you must be pleased!"
Jenny smiled wryly glowing in the memory of her role-play session as she rose from her seat, walked around her desk and sat casually on the edge. Her smile suddenly faded and she furrowed her brow as Gibbs stern face quickly reminded her of his warning before she had left the training centre.
"I've been doing some thinking Director, and it's clear from this morning that my reflexes just aint what they used to be, hell, normally I would have been able to have seen that head slap of yours coming, so there's obviously a problem to be sorted"
Jenny glared suspiciously at him,
"So as my supervisor, I know that you will want to monitor my progress back to 100 percent performance, which is why, you and I are going to spend the next two weeks at the gym after work"
She paled visibly.
"Now if you are half the boss I think you are, you'll be like me and wouldn't dream of asking me to do anything that you wouldn't do yourself. So I know you'll be right with me every step of the way, until we've completed every push up and pull up in my PT program to get me back into top shape"
"But…." she gasped struggling to find the words to protest.
Gibbs placed his finger lightly on her lips, "Come on Jen, weren't you the one who was telling me earlier about taking leadership responsibilities seriously?"
Jen groaned realising that there was nothing that she could say or do to get the better of the grouchy team leader.
"I'm assuming that this is what you meant by retribution Jethro?"
"No Director, this is what you call good performance management" Gibbs smiled as he spun around quickly and left the room.
From the open door he barked again, "1900 hours and perhaps you should bring Cynthia along….think of it as a personal development opportunity!"
3 months later...
Gibbs growled as he read and re-read the email.
'All NCIS employees are required to attend a three hour workshop on dealing with poor performance with reference to our revised policy on handling issues of discipline and grievance. The workshop will be facilitated by the newly promoted Deputy Head of Employee Development, Mr Baxter Murray and his team"
Gibbs narrowed his eyes, frowned, promptly hit the delete key and whispered quietly, "I think not…people!"