'Are managers walking round with clipboards counting smiles and small talk exchanges?'

There I was, whiling away my time in the queue at the supermarket checkout, silently bemoaning the loss of the '10 items or less' system.

Have you seen how much people will cram in a wire basket these days? And since when does carrying a six pack of water in addition to two baskets count as 'one basket only'?

But I digress. While shuffling up the queue I spotted stickers all over the checkout assistant's till.

On closer inspection they turned out not to be something distributed free with The Guardian (are the walls of your office papered with their wallcharts too?) but instructions for staff on how to get the biggest kind of bonus.

The stickers instructed staff to 'make eye contact', 'smile at the customer' and 'offer to help pack their bags'. For good measure more stickers bore the slogan 'CAN I HELP to PACK your BAGS?', just in case they forgot.

I have noticed that at another branch I also visit frequently -' I really should get out more -' the rather truculent youths who pay for their trainers by working the checkouts have been forcing themselves to smile at customers.

You can almost hear the groaning from some of them as they struggle to drop their usual teenage sulkiness.

Yet in the target-driven culture with which you are all too familiar, what was less clear is how these instructions were measured. Are managers walking around with clipboards counting smiles, or do they tot up the number of small-talk exchanges about the weather and customers being told to have a pleasant evening?

Are they counting the customers pleased to have their long days lifted by a little chit-chat?

If readers have been instructed by their managers to be more perky with the public, I would be intrigued to learn how you managed to measure it.