b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: The Ultimate Insult: A.K.A. - The Yearly Review

12/11/2005

 

The Ultimate Insult: A.K.A. - The Yearly Review

I recently came across another article that piqued my interest. It was posted on Careerbuilder.com and entitled “Can You Redeem Yourself After a Bad Review at Work?” It was written by Kate Lorenz who writes many career-related articles for Careerbuilder.

I read stuff like this that seems to make all the sense in the world. And then I wonder - why I can’t have it like that?

Let’s take a look at some tips that Kate makes in regards to the annual review:

Ask for specifics.
The best way to improve your performance is if you know what you are doing wrong. Ask your manager to spell out exactly where you are lacking so you can make improvements. If he or she simply says that you "don't seem to be motivated" in the office, respectfully ask for examples of where and when you have fallen short. This will help you see things from your manager's perspective.

My reality:
Apparently your manager isn’t *required* to supply any specifics. This past year I had a lousy review. 8 months later I’m still waiting for an answer since my manager has so far been unable to produce even ONE example of anything that I did “wrong”.

One of the things that my manager said to me was, “Your subordinate, Worker Bee A, came to me on several occasions to complain about you.”

Oh really? Worker Bee A worked for me for 3 years until they were just promoted into MY job. (And no, I’m not being naïve but, I have no reason to believe that this individual went plotting behind my back).

So I asked my Idiot Boss what it was that Worker Bee A said about me. After all, if they went to my manager “on several occasions” to complain, what was it that they said? Why were they complaining?

My bat-$@%#-crazy manager turned white and tried to think of something to say.

Hmmm, how odd.

So I asked, “Would you tell me at least ONE thing that they said? You just told me that Worker Bee A came to you on several occasions. Surely you must be able to recall ONE item of complaint?” How can I improve if I don't know what needs improving?

She struggled for an answer, “I don’t seem to remember anything offhand at this time.”

“Ok, then why don’t we call Worker Bee A in here? Since you don’t seem to be able to recall what was said, maybe we can hear it from the horse’s mouth, no? If this is a negative mark against me, I think I have the right to know what they said.”

Apparently my Idiot Boss saw that as unnecessary. Really? Then maybe that shouldn’t be in my review. As I said, all these months later and she still has not come up with ONE item of complaint that Worker Bee A went to her with.

Understand expectations.
Sometimes, being a star at work is all about expectations. You need to understand your manager's idea of "outstanding" or "meets expectations" in order to meet them. Ask your manager to give you examples of accomplishments or behaviors that are required to earn a better evaluation.

My reality:
I’ve asked my manager about what I need to do. She told me to work LOTS of overtime. Her words exactly: Work through lunchtime, work late at night, bring work home and work weekends (For the rest of this story, please see 12/7/05’s blog entry: I'm_Not_A_Micromanager ). Looks like I won't be reaching her expectations again.

Set clear and attainable goals.
The best way to show that you are improving is to set goals and meet those goals. With your supervisor's help develop a list of short- and long-term goals that go along with the areas in your review. This will demonstrate that you are committed to improvement and will give you a road map to follow.

My reality:
My yearly goals are not given to me until May at the earliest. So right there, 5 months are shot. Beyond that, the goals are not clear, nor are they attainable.

Don't go it alone.
If you find that you need assistance, ask for it. Maybe you just haven't gotten the hang of the new accounting system or are having troubles managing a certain client. If you don't step up and ask for help, your work -- and your career -- will continue to suffer.

My reality:
Late last year I was involuntarily moved into a different (less desireable) area of the department. Nobody trained me, although I asked repeatedly to be trained. Finally, when I started making mistakes and was placed on “written warning”, did they deem it time to start training me in my new role. Nice, right?

Meet regularly.
If the only time you sit down with your boss is at your annual review, it may be difficult for you to improve much in the workplace. You need to build a relationship with your manager that provides you with ongoing support and feedback. If necessary, set up meetings every few weeks to talk about your goals and discuss your progress.

My reality:
You cannot work for my bat-$@%#-crazy manager and not meet on a daily basis. However, when we meet it’s usually so that she can make me feel worse about things I didn’t even think were possible for me to feel bad about.

Keep a record.
The workplace has a short memory and a performance review is normally conducted just once a year. That's why it is important for you to keep a file of your accomplishments throughout the year. Share these with your supervisor as he prepares your performance appraisal to remind him of your achievements.

My reality:
Documentation does nothing. After my miserable review, I went to Inhuman Resources to see what I could possibly do. There wasn’t any way I could let that review stand. So I pulled all of my documentation together. It was everything that said not only that I did my job – but that I did it well. It also included memos and emails from several individuals in the company (some of them upper management) who commended me on a “job well done”. Long story short – Inhuman Resources told me that my manager was allowed to say whatever she wanted to say and that they would back her up. They never even looked at my documentation. Screw documentation.

In the real world, I know that things should roll this way. It’s the “right thing”.

As a result of all this nonsense I’ve decided to quit my job, quit my industry and start my own company. And that would never have happened if my company operated the way it’s supposed to. I know I’m not alone in this. So maybe in a way this is a sign that I should be doing bigger and better things. We’ll have to see.

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