The end of the year brings forth a ritual that is timeless in its age and vicious in its intent. Annual Job Performance Reviews. These four words strike fear into the hearts of most employed persons. Not only because the outcome of the review dictates annual
insults raises, but the process itself has become painful. Sort of like, “I’d rather drag my naked body across a mile of broken glass as write my performance review.”
Okay, take a minute to get that picture out of your head…
Close enough. Let’s press on. In the “old days”, sometime before Christmas, the boss would call you into his office. You would sit down and wipe your sweaty palms on your knees praying that you would still have a job when you left. The boss would tell you what a great job you did for him over the past year. You would pick your mouth up off the floor. The boss would then say you were getting a raise at some percentage above the cost of living increase. He would then hand you an envelope and say Merry Christmas. you would open the envelope, see the size of the bonus check and praise god that you could now go buy gifts for the family. You would thank you boss, skip from his office, and quickly go to the garage and defuse the bomb you had attached to his car just in case… :-)
My how things have changed thanks to some genius in Human Resources (HR).
Now most companies handle it this way. The week before Christmas, the boss sends you an email with multiple attachments. The email states that’ “You are required to complete the attached Performance Evaluation Form, the 2014 Developmental Goals template, and the Goal Tracking Sheet. All documents must be completed and returned to me no later than January 6th. The Executive Team has set the maximum increase allowed for an “Exceeds Expectation Rating” at 1.24%.”
You open the Performance Evaluation Form and see six pages. Each page has two sets of blanks. A large blank with the heading, “Employees comments” and a small blank with the heading, “Reviewer’s Comments”. Each page has a header with some obscure general term that leaves interpretation wide open. For example: Teamwork, Communication, Commitment, Functionality. If you’re lucky, there may be a handful of bullet points listed to help you understand what the Psychology Professors in HR think is important to you doing your job. If not, you are completely on your own to provide comments for your review. In addition to the Evaluation, you must come up with developmental goals that you must achieve over the next twelve months. Too easy and you will be asked to change them, too hard and you kill your review for next year. HR says you need at three or four goals but your boss wants seven or eight.
Those of you who have not been through this process are probably saying, “Great, I’ll just say that I am the greatest thing since sliced bread and I deserve a huge raise and a company car.” Foolish mortals! There is a rule that you have not considered. “He who wields the pen last, writes the truth.”
Now you provide this nightmare to your boss by the required date, having blown off Christmas and New Years to get it done. Now you wait…and wait…and wait.
Sometime in March you go into your ask your boss when the actual review meetings will be conducted. He responds that HR requires they be completed by 3/31. You say okay and go back to work.
At noon on 3/31 you receive a meeting request for 4:00 PM. You are handed a copy of your review with the bosses comments and asked if you have any questions. You are allowed five minutes to read through the Evaluation. You are then required to sign the Eval whether or not you agree with the boss. He then says that he’s not sure what your raise will be, if you qualify for one. He submitted it and it will show on your next pay stub. When you look at your next paycheck you realize that the half percent increase the company so graciously gave you bumped you into the next tax bracket and your check is 10% less than it was before your review. WhooHoo.
Maybe next year I can review my Boss and send the review his boss before their review is complete. *Sure, Cut back on the Wild Turkey, Dennis*
Aren’t performance evals fun?