Author Topic: What is a performance review for?  (Read 9431 times)

mozar

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What is a performance review for?
« on: May 22, 2015, 02:26:35 PM »
Short version: what is it for? I've never had one. Pretend I'm from another planet.

Long version: I have a performance review where I have to write essays about goals, strengths and weaknesses. That's for my main company. The company I am subcontracted to wants me to talk to them about what I am learning, would like to learn and any professional development ideas I might have. My last job the supervisor just gave me a list of her thoughts on me and I had to sign it. I'm in a unique situation since my job sends me out to contracts. I'm the only person in my company who does this, everyone else works in house. So I don't have anyone to ask. I don't know what to say about goals/next steps because I get whatever contract they give me. The next thing could be totally unrelated. I also don't have a promotion path. And as far as I know I don't get raises unless I have another offer. Same thing for weaknesses. Say my weakness is Excel, there is a good chance the next client won't need me to know more about it, or use it at all. So what is the company getting out of this? They're not going to offer me any training. They're not interested in my opinion on anything. If there is something they don't like about me I can leave really easily (i get calls from recruiters regularly). I work in accounting.
Another thing: I have been improving at my job by leaps and bounds because I decided to get treatment for my anxiety/ insomnia, but that's not something I'm going to bring up.

Numbers Man

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2015, 02:41:03 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtwXlIwozog

Same dance is played in a review.

Frankies Girl

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2015, 02:48:20 PM »
Mainly, it's to evaluate you as an employee for consideration on your value to the company and also figure out your salary/wage increases if any.

Bring up anything that you really excelled at; any above and beyond work - as it is really important to point out things they might have forgotten or missed. You want as much credit as possible for being a good little employee.

They also are so you can set goals for yourself, identify any issues you might have ongoing (the "weaknesses" don't have to be yours particularly; if you're running into issues in successfully completing your assigned duties, then bringing it up at a performance review can get it in front of your boss so you can work out possible alternatives).

Companies are big on documenting "progress and growth" and want to have you do the homework so it looks like you're a team player, so come at it from the point of view that you are selling yourself to the company all over again and hyping where you see yourself (as a happy and productive team member) is also a big factor here.




mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2015, 03:06:31 PM »
I don't know what to say about excelling. I've always been solidly mediocre. I've worked with people who have an attitude or are downright mean. I try to be polite all the time. Even that tho, I am less polite than I could be. I can't say I beat deadlines because they are always changing. I've been trying harder to understand what I am doing lately. So I guess I should talk about growth? My improvements have been on the personal side though. I guess I can google words like goals or progress. I really don't know what I am expected to say.

mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2015, 04:00:33 PM »
Sadly the video is pretty relevant, but probably for different reasons. Like criminality is a symptom of not knowing how society works and lack of socialization, I also struggle with lack of knowledge of how people communicate and behave in a work setting. This forum is like a mozar rehabilitation program.

firewalker

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2015, 04:34:08 PM »
I'm yet to see any indication that mine have ever been read by anyone other than an immediate superior who needs to get the review off their list of required actions. I usually shuffle the wording from the previous review and mix in a few corporate buzz terms for fun.

Frankies Girl

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2015, 04:51:26 PM »
I'm yet to see any indication that mine have ever been read by anyone other than an immediate superior who needs to get the review off their list of required actions. I usually shuffle the wording from the previous review and mix in a few corporate buzz terms for fun.

Absolutely. I usually just copied my answers from the previous review once I knew I was done and just counting down to RE... my supervisor never said anything other than the same happy BS as always.

My husband's workplace thinks it's cute to put questions on theirs like "what do you want to be when you grow up?" So he plays along with it and puts down ridiculous answers all the way through... last time I think he said "pirate" to that question. (and his company is run by booger eating morons, so it's okay for him to answer sarcastically... they just think he's being "cute" right back at them)

forummm

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2015, 05:01:29 PM »
It depends what kind of organization and boss you work for. Some treat it as some mandatory requirement--a formality. Some are really good about using it as a way to help you develop and succeed. But you can view it as a tool to help you develop and succeed and orient the conversation that way if that's important to you.

But now that I'm closing in on FI, I have a hard time caring, or knowing what to say about my "career goals".

asiljoy

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2015, 07:53:15 AM »
I'm yet to see any indication that mine have ever been read by anyone other than an immediate superior who needs to get the review off their list of required actions. I usually shuffle the wording from the previous review and mix in a few corporate buzz terms for fun.

This has also been my experience.

mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2015, 08:33:30 AM »
Yea i think just one person will read it, who is not in my field. I would like to at least appear that I'm taking it seriously.

asiljoy

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2015, 08:46:46 AM »
They aren't giving you a template to fill out? They usually go something like: Job description summary, project goals and how you did, personal goals and how you did, and then a section on what you'd like to improve on for next year(these don't necessarily need to be something you suck at, could be something you enjoy and want to do more of. I'd say make sure you aren't too hard on yourself. No need to point out something they might have missed.

mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2015, 09:28:51 AM »
There is an essay and a template portion.

asiljoy

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2015, 11:25:28 AM »
The essay part the piece that's giving you pause?

Le Poisson

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2015, 12:33:55 PM »
The onlyadvice I have is to state your strengths as strengths, then state your strengths as weaknesses. You're in accounting, so your strength could be that you have an analytical mind that interprets numbers to paint a picture of overall wellness of your client's business.

Your weakness is that you relate to all things in a sense of numeracy which means you tend to analyse situations rather than go with your heart.

Voila - your weakness is their strength.

Daisy

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2015, 12:50:27 PM »
Why not have some fun with the essay when they make you write one out? For example, add carriage returns at the end of each line so you can arrange the first letter on each line to spell something funny. So when you read down the line you can say something like:

"I would rather be at the beach"
"I will be FIRE in a year"
"This review sucks"
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 12:56:37 PM by Daisy »

resipsaloquitur

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2015, 01:18:34 PM »
I have to disagree about what the purpose is. It seems quite clear to me as an attorney that the main purpose is to create a record (paper trail) of performance weaknesses. Those may get hidden among positives as well, but not many people will ever receive a 100% positive review. There will always be things you can "improve" noted. By creating this record, the employer can later use it to fire you if they decide they need to.

Most employers don't contractually need cause to fire you, but it sure helps in case of litigation. Especially if they want to avoid increases in their unemployment insurance premiums. This is why they have you sign it and indicate whether you agree that the criticisms are valid and whether you agree to the improvement plan. "Your Honor, she herself agreed that she wasn't doing X well, and even agreed to do better. Unfortunately, she didn't..." This prevents you from arguing "but I was a great employee." You already admitted and agreed you weren't as good as you should be.

Evaluations are about protecting the company's interests (from you). If there is a benefit of helping the employee improve, that's just gravy.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 01:28:07 PM by resipsaloquitur »

okits

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2015, 04:21:04 PM »
It depends on the company.  One place I worked the performance review was mostly a vehicle to formalize the bullshit "official" reason you weren't getting a good raise. The real reason was always "we reward politics, not hard work."

Another place used it as a quarterly tool to rehabilitate underperformers. That way management could point to the reviews as action they were taking to improve their underlings.  If you were a good performer you could write down any recycled goals or nonsense and no one cared.

You'll have to figure out what your specific company uses these reviews for, but for improvement I think you can massage the reasons into "better time management", "better stress management", "improved prioritization", "improved operational efficiency/client communication and relationships" or some other businessy-sounding reasons, then point to a quantified example of improvement.

And since you mentioned it, what are your prospects of earning more somewhere else?  Good that recruiters are calling you.

Zikoris

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2015, 04:57:23 PM »
It's always seemed pretty ridiculous to me. I answer phones and make coffee for clients. I intend to continue doing exactly this for another nine years, then retiring. My employer knows this, and in fact had me put on a lunch seminar on saving money for the entire office last year. It just seems pointless.

At a previous employer, we had to do the whole essay questions thing about goals, etc. My job was shipping boxes of things to clients. I don't even remember what BS I wrote down for that.

LeRainDrop

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2015, 07:09:56 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtwXlIwozog

Same dance is played in a review.
LOL!  Although, I'm pretty sure that if I were to tell my boss, "I don't give a shit," the outcome of my review would not be so positive.

Zamboni

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2015, 07:40:23 PM »
One place I worked the performance review was mostly a vehicle to formalize the bullshit "official" reason you weren't getting a good raise. The real reason was always "we reward politics, not hard work."

Another place used it as a quarterly tool to rehabilitate underperformers. That way management could point to the reviews as action they were taking to improve their underlings.  If you were a good performer you could write down any recycled goals or nonsense and no one cared.

Good summary.  I have worked at both of the above places.  Annual reviews are BS.

My favorite year was the year there was a salary freeze, so my "score" on the review was irrelevant.  My lazy self-promoting boss had all of us write his portion for him. He gave us about a month's notice to do his part.  So, I got out the thesauraus and used all of the words I could find for fantastic, exceptional, visionary, etc.  Every minor thing I had done, no matter how trivial, I mentioned as if it was extremely important. I spent the whole month remembering things and adding them until it was probably 4 times as long as a normal review. Mostly I wanted to see what his reaction would be, if he would even take the time to edit it, or if we would really sit down to talk about it like we were supposed to.  He just signed it and never scheduled our meeting to talk it over but forwarded it to me for my signature on my part. Then by the time the next review rolled around he had left the company and I had a brand new boss who was using what I wrote the previous year as a template because he seemed to have no clue about what I did for a living or that my ex-boss didn't write what was in the file.  I got a huge raise that second year. ;-)

Now I keep a running file.  Every time I do anything that could go on the form, any time I get a compliment, it goes in the file. Makes it a snap to write my part when the time comes, which is good since I'm in an environment where what I put on the paper is irrelevant to advancement and pay increases anyway (really it just boils down to numbers you produce, how much you whine about getting paid more, and how much people like you), so I'm just trying to make doing it quick and easy.

Mozar, I know bragging isn't really your thing, but have fun making your part of the review an account about how incredibly awesome you are. Keep it totally positive (even the weakness part, find some way to twist it around to a strength.) Use the thesaurus function to find more words for polite, timely, efficient, dependable, whatever.  Make a list of every single customer or project to create a log of your work. Steadfastly succinct, punctual, and businesslike, which many customers appreciate?  That seems like you. Good luck.

Le Poisson

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2015, 07:54:40 PM »
I have to disagree about what the purpose is. It seems quite clear to me as an attorney that the main purpose is to create a record (paper trail) of performance weaknesses. Those may get hidden among positives as well, but not many people will ever receive a 100% positive review. There will always be things you can "improve" noted. By creating this record, the employer can later use it to fire you if they decide they need to.

Most employers don't contractually need cause to fire you, but it sure helps in case of litigation. Especially if they want to avoid increases in their unemployment insurance premiums. This is why they have you sign it and indicate whether you agree that the criticisms are valid and whether you agree to the improvement plan. "Your Honor, she herself agreed that she wasn't doing X well, and even agreed to do better. Unfortunately, she didn't..." This prevents you from arguing "but I was a great employee." You already admitted and agreed you weren't as good as you should be.

Evaluations are about protecting the company's interests (from you). If there is a benefit of helping the employee improve, that's just gravy.

I never thought of it this way - being in a union environment, would this still apply - it seems like the sort of business my employer would be up to.

BlueHouse

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2015, 10:31:16 AM »
I have to disagree about what the purpose is. It seems quite clear to me as an attorney that the main purpose is to create a record (paper trail) of performance weaknesses. Those may get hidden among positives as well, but not many people will ever receive a 100% positive review. There will always be things you can "improve" noted. By creating this record, the employer can later use it to fire you if they decide they need to.

Most employers don't contractually need cause to fire you, but it sure helps in case of litigation. Especially if they want to avoid increases in their unemployment insurance premiums. This is why they have you sign it and indicate whether you agree that the criticisms are valid and whether you agree to the improvement plan. "Your Honor, she herself agreed that she wasn't doing X well, and even agreed to do better. Unfortunately, she didn't..." This prevents you from arguing "but I was a great employee." You already admitted and agreed you weren't as good as you should be.

Evaluations are about protecting the company's interests (from you). If there is a benefit of helping the employee improve, that's just gravy.i
Your reasoning doesn't make sense to me. If this were the main reason, wouldn't it put employers in a worse bind because the majority of their employees are above satisfactory?   That means if they ever let someone go for no cause,mother they'd have a lawsuit waiting? 
Also, for the few reviews I've ever had to sign, the signature does not require acceptance or concurrence with the criticism, it only means that you have read it and reviewed it with yiour supervisor. Anything else would require negotiation or no one would sign a poor review.

resipsaloquitur

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2015, 10:49:18 AM »
Just try not agreeing with the evaluation and see what happens. Then they have you for recalcitrance, insubordination, or being just plain difficult to work with. Most workers simply do not have the power to register disagreement without risking further negative consequences.

And since the negatives are usually outweighed by the positives in the evaluation, most workers don't even see the negatives as a potential risk-- and that's because it isn't a risk for the present. The employer probably does want to keep the employee. I'm not saying it's always a setup. Far from it. It's expensive and difficult to replace employees.

But the employer IS making a record to use against the employee if they ever do want to be rid of them. Those negative consequences only materialize in the case of a legal dispute. In other words, the company is laying a mine field before they need it. If they waited until litigation to say anything negative about the employee, then it looks like a post hoc pretext.

And I didn't "reason" my way to this description. I'm just reporting on how this stuff plays out in the real world. In the land of human resources, my friend, the lawyers are king.

BlueHouse

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2015, 12:49:27 PM »
Just try not agreeing with the evaluation and see what happens. Then they have you for recalcitrance, insubordination, or being just plain difficult to work with. Most workers simply do not have the power to register disagreement without risking further negative consequences.

And since the negatives are usually outweighed by the positives in the evaluation, most workers don't even see the negatives as a potential risk-- and that's because it isn't a risk for the present. The employer probably does want to keep the employee. I'm not saying it's always a setup. Far from it. It's expensive and difficult to replace employees.

But the employer IS making a record to use against the employee if they ever do want to be rid of them. Those negative consequences only materialize in the case of a legal dispute. In other words, the company is laying a mine field before they need it. If they waited until litigation to say anything negative about the employee, then it looks like a post hoc pretext.

And I didn't "reason" my way to this description. I'm just reporting on how this stuff plays out in the real world. In the land of human resources, my friend, the lawyers are king.
I won't disagree that negatives will follow the employee and be used as evidence as needed, but in all of my experience, each performance review had an area for the employee to comment on the review.  In addition, when I look up performance review templates on google, the first few forms have this comment in the signature block:
"By signing this form, you confirm that you have discussed this review in detail with your supervisor.  Signing this form does not necessarily indicate that you agree  with this performance evaluation." 
I have always worked in a professional environment, so it's not my experience that employees don't have power.  I'm sure that's not the case everywhere, and that's why the idea of FI is so appealing to so many.  I agree with your third paragraph, and that's why it's important to add comments if space is provided.  It's also my understanding that retribution against employees is highly frowned upon.


choppingwood

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2015, 02:18:43 PM »
As an HR Manager, I read every performance review that gets written in our organization, as does our HR Adviser. We are interested in two things -- first, whether the employee and his or her supervisor have enough respect for the organization and appreciation for the opportunities available to take the process seriously and make the effort to have a meaningful communication about the employee's goals and performance; and second, if they do, what we can do in the way of training, job experience, coaching to the supervisor, and feedback that will help the employee meet their work and career goals and improve their performance.

Cynicism limits your life.

mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #25 on: May 24, 2015, 02:32:15 PM »
Well, I've been fired without cause before, so I'm not too worried about what I write. This is all helpful, although mostly just to calm me down. This would be easier if my job provided training, were interested in providing me with particular experiences or coaching my supervisor. I struggle because in my field in particular it is what it is. I don't have any say in anything. Might be too specific an issue for this board, but nontheless still helpful to get opinions.

Zikoris

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #26 on: May 24, 2015, 03:52:35 PM »
As an HR Manager, I read every performance review that gets written in our organization, as does our HR Adviser. We are interested in two things -- first, whether the employee and his or her supervisor have enough respect for the organization and appreciation for the opportunities available to take the process seriously and make the effort to have a meaningful communication about the employee's goals and performance; and second, if they do, what we can do in the way of training, job experience, coaching to the supervisor, and feedback that will help the employee meet their work and career goals and improve their performance.

Thanks for giving the perspective from the other side!

Do you still see performance reviews as valuable in the following scenario, and if so, how:
1. Employee is happy in their role and does a good job, gets along with coworkers and supervisors, etc
2. Employee does not have work-related goals, is unconcerned with opportunities for advancement, and simply wants to continue doing their job until early retirement

I feel like this is a very common scenario for Mustachians.

choppingwood

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #27 on: May 24, 2015, 05:37:41 PM »
As an HR Manager, I read every performance review that gets written in our organization, as does our HR Adviser. We are interested in two things -- first, whether the employee and his or her supervisor have enough respect for the organization and appreciation for the opportunities available to take the process seriously and make the effort to have a meaningful communication about the employee's goals and performance; and second, if they do, what we can do in the way of training, job experience, coaching to the supervisor, and feedback that will help the employee meet their work and career goals and improve their performance.

Thanks for giving the perspective from the other side!

Do you still see performance reviews as valuable in the following scenario, and if so, how:
1. Employee is happy in their role and does a good job, gets along with coworkers and supervisors, etc
2. Employee does not have work-related goals, is unconcerned with opportunities for advancement, and simply wants to continue doing their job until early retirement

I feel like this is a very common scenario for Mustachians.

Yes, it is fairly common. I do think that it is still a valuable process, if it is taken seriously.

First of all, I think that almost every job and almost every employee can benefit from continuous learning. Whether it is how to use new software or some personal goal like finally conquering procrastination, learning keeps you energized, especially if you can use the learning right away.

The other thing is that the employee in this position can often pass on what they know. We use performance reviews and planning to initiate some of that. Our facilities manager has staff who have worked in different settings teach each other what they know - -whether it involves banquet table setting from hotel work to polishing floors from school settings (it must be the gym floors that they polish). We have stunning table settings at events, and you can see yourself in the reflection from the wood floors. If you are happy in your job, I'd love you to teaching other people how to be happy in their jobs.

My concern about people not engaging in this process is a concern that I have about a lot of mustachians -- and that is that people are deciding not to engage and are letting a lot of life pass them by, while they wait for FIRE. The cynicism about performance reviews that was being expressed in this thread wasn't the sound of the happy campers you are describing.

resipsaloquitur

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #28 on: May 24, 2015, 06:55:31 PM »
I take exception to choppingwood's characterization of (presumably) my comments as either cynical or expressive of dissatisfaction. I have my dream job, and love every day of my work.

My description of the use companies put evaluations to is also not cynical. This is simply reality. Whether HR managers realize it or not, litigation is the ultimate reality around which employer/employee policies and practices are designed. This takes many forms: discrimination and hostile work environment remediation, wrongful termination risk management, documentation of poor performance or peer complaints, and on and on.

There was a time when management would informally mentor or guide employee progress. But as litigation became more commonplace and expensive (because worker protection laws became more robust) the company lawyer during litigation would have to say "what?? You don't have documentation (i.e., proof) of ANY wrongdoing? Time to change that! We need something to give to the jury!" Thus the written evaluation was born.

If compassionate and well-trained management (like choppingwood clearly is, no sarcasm intended) can make other use of the process, that's just yahtzee. But the process is designed from its inception for people like me, who will use the evidence viciously and expertly in court to protect the company from damages that can vastly outweigh any extra profit the company might generate from the process of helping the employee improve.

TrMama

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2015, 11:30:12 AM »
Before reading this thread, I would have replied that performance reviews are for keeping HR people employed. Now I know they're for keeping HR professionals and lawyers employed.

Continuous learning in action!

GuitarStv

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2015, 11:41:55 AM »
My performance reviews are corporate mandated.  Their sole purpose is to meet company policy.  I have received word for word identical feedback from my manager for the last four years.

Rural

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2015, 12:03:21 PM »
And here I thought they were to keep people from getting their actual jobs done for 2-5 weeks annually.

Daisy

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2015, 07:56:39 PM »
Cynicism limits your life.

Hmmm...cynicism also enhances your life in the sense that it makes the regular drudgery of a lot of jobs more bearable. My best moments at work these days are when a group of us get together and get all cynical over our work environment. It creates a lot of bonding and friendships bloom. We also get to laugh over it, so it reduces our work pressures, reduces stress, and increases our health. Workplace cynicism has generated some of the best humor out there (Dilbert, Office Space, etc.). It spurs creativity.

I kind of like workplace related cynicism.

mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2015, 09:04:11 PM »
Cynicism is fine when you are chuckling with your co-workers, another thing entirely when you are trying to do a performance review.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I got through an in person performance review for the client. Then I went home and did the written review. I had this page open while I was writing it (on a different computer). It helped me focus. I researched a lot and my company also gives "competencies" which you are expected to copy. I had a hard week but thanks for the support!

Merrie

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2015, 05:13:23 AM »
Oh, yeah, ours are based on how well we meet the "competencies", which are fairly vague. Of course, the competencies for me are based on a position that isn't the one I have, my review is written by someone who doesn't work with me routinely, and it's based on comments from underlings who may or may not work with me routinely and who don't understand the demands of my job. Big boss just gathers comments, presents them to me, but can't really comment on how good the information is or what I should do with it, and he's acknowledged such. My part of the performance review is kind of a joke and last year I didn't even do it because I was on maternity leave and nobody cared. But this year I think I will work on it, as a way to preemptively counteract all the spurious garbage that usually comes up.

mozar

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Re: What is a performance review for?
« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2015, 10:41:20 AM »
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yeah, ours are based on how well we meet the "competencies", which are fairly vague. Of course, the competencies for me are based on a position that isn't the one I have, my review is written by someone who doesn't work with me routinely, and it's based on comments from underlings who may or may not work with me routinely and who don't understand the demands of my job.

I am in a similar situation, which is one reason I was struggling so much. Although one of my competencies is do you "Look the part, walk the walk, talk to talk." Sure...