I asked my colleague earlier today if she wants to meet on Friday to discuss this project that we need to finish by the end of the month. Her response to me: “I can’t Friday, I’ve blocked the day to do my yearly performance review”. I looked deep into her soul for about five seconds, then I turned back toward my desk. She’s one of many tortured souls who doesn’t see through this farce.
We have five “Core Values” as a company and the self-evaluation entails you proving that you’ve met or exceeded expectations against each goal. You crushed it, you’re ready for the next level baby! Let’s journey through these corporate values we’re presumably being benchmarked against.
“Excels in everything” – How many douchebags worked together to come up with this gem?
“Always Willing” – I’m not sure how compliance let this one squeak through. The only time I’ve heard this phrase used is back in college when my sorority friends were backstabbing their sorority sisters.
“Listen First” – This one makes sense. No quarrel here.
“Commitment to diversity” – I totally get and respect this at the corporate level. However, for low and mid-level grunts like myself, I’m not sure how to “live this value.” I don’t manage anybody, I don’t hire anybody, so how do I commit to diversity? Also, every time there is a “rate yourself on a scale on 1-5” type survey, there’s always a handful of fools who rate themselves a 1 thinking that 1 is the best. “I’m # 1!” Do these cats just get fired on the spot? “Sir, you’ve admitted to being a vehement racist, we don’t support such viewpoints here.”
“Network Performance” – This one took me about 3 months to understand. The point here is that you know how to effectively reach out to your peers, solicit their knowledge and expertise when appropriate, and use that to complete tasks (i.e. you don’t spend 5 days researching a topic or answering a question that someone else could have answered in a 2-minute email). I’m convinced that this one is a trap: “Well, well, look at this, Stuart from accounting gave himself a 5 on network performance. Apparently he just has others doing his work for him. He also only gave himself a 3 on ‘commitment to diversity’………….. Get this mildly racist loafer the FUCK outta here!”
As a former manager of a decent sized team, I can’t help but smirk when I see people spending hours and hours writing their performance review. It’s obscene. They write these long narratives and even try and attach emails into the performance management software platform. “On October 8th at 3:20 PM Billy asked me if I could add a slide or two to the deck he was due to present to the VP on October 24th. I didn’t just create 2 slides, I created 5, and Billy said that I had done a great job. This is a particularly poignant and symbolic moment in my career because it illustrates that I’m always willing.”….. Good Gosh.
Luckily for me, I was a manager early on in my career so I know how these performance reviews actually play out. It’s 630 PM, I’ve been in the office for 10.5 hours, and the one thing standing in the way between me, the hockey game I want to watch, and the stiff cocktail I’ve earned for my day’s bullshit is Trevor’s self-evaluation. I open the performance mgmt. system and look to see how Trevor has evaluated himself. Trevor has written a fucking dissertation. My immediate reaction is pure rage. (1) I don’t have time to read all this shit (2) How much freaking time did this imbecile spend writing this novel instead of doing his actual job? Since Trevor’s review is the next morning, his self-evaluation receives a 5-minute glance during the second period intermission. Lucky for Trev hockey has long, 17-minute breaks because this glance was 5th on my intermission priority list after taking a piss, making another cocktail, finding out what stinks in the refrigerator, and checking my fantasy hockey team.
Here’s the rub. I’ve dealt with this know-it-all the whole damn year. He’s good for sure, but he thinks he’s god’s gift to corporate America. He rubs a lot of people the wrong way, including me. More important than that though, my boss gives me a quota on how many people I can promote and how much money I have to work with in terms of merit-based pay increases. T-rev’s self-evaluation is but a laughable boondoggle. It’s the adult version of writing a letter to Santa. I’m sure it feels great to write about how nice you’ve been and how you deserve that new video game system you really want, but nobody reads that shit and your mgmt. team has already determined that you’re getting a board game.
I look forward to Friday cause I’ve read this script in advance. During the day Friday my colleague will diligently toil away on her self-evaluation. Around 445 PM she’ll leave the office glowing with a visible sense of pride and accomplishment. Around 515 my boss will come to the printer near my desk to pick up her self-evaluation so that he can skim it over the wknd if he has time. A week from today she’ll walk out with a shiny new set of Scrabble under her arm wondering why her evaluation papers had circle-shaped wrinkles and smelled a bit like gin.