Last week the Greek Finance Ministry’s General Secretariat of Information Systems launched a seminar entitled “The sea elephant and scrappy information,” geared toward all people employed in Greek tax offices who are being educated on how to deal with the anger of taxpayers.
The allegory embedded in the story introduced to all tax office employees is disarming: Tax office employees are the sea elephants who aim to catch small herrings, in other words taxpayers and tax revenue, but in order for them to effectively pursue their target they must follow proper management and cooperation practices, as well as inform their superiors on everything.
During the seminars, Greek tax offices employees will learn what words and phrases should be avoided when dealing with taxpayers, while also being introduced to exercises aimed to increase the employees’ ability of active listening (without reacting) and emotional intelligence.
Another test undertaken by the employees is the “two minute” test. In two minutes, they must carry out 21 different tasks, which cover a variety of their daily activity that simulates their work environment. Some of the tasks ask the employees to write and highlight their name, punch four holes in the sheet, multiply 123 by 123, calculate the sum of 456x78x2+899, divide 999 by 245, draw a triangle and then put it in a circle, make ten scattered small circles on the back of their sheet and write the word “victory” five times. Meanwhile, the employees are encouraged to intervene during the testing by shouting out phrases like “I’m doing well” or “I’m almost done.”