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I had my one-year performance evaluation at work yesterday, just one step in the complicated, bureaucratic, frustrating hoop-jumpery that leads to a 3.5% annual raise at my place of employment.

Everyone at all levels of the company complains -- loudly, frequently, creatively -- about the evaluation process, which actually begins 90 days before your hiring anniversary and continues for several weeks after. Yet, despite promises of streamlining and simplifying, nothing has changed. Even the president of the company is helpless against this beast! (Or so we are to believe.)

First, there's an online self-evaluation form, which takes (and I'm not even kidding) approximately 8 hours to fill out and involves writing 100 or so mini-essays on vague topics like "cohesion and alignment" and "customer care." And you have to try to think of something different to say for all of them, even though they all seem to be the same question. (This is why we get 90 days to complete it.) Then you submit your self-evaluation to the "professional development lead" in your department, who may or may not be one of your team managers (I have four accounts, which means four different teams and four different managers).

Your professional development lead then asks your other managers and co-workers to submit their evaluations of you, which are compiled into her evaluation. Then the professional development lead meets with the division manager to talk about you. Then she meets with you to talk about you and what everyone so far has said about you (this was what I did yesterday). Then she meets with the division manager again, then submits all the forms to HR, and then you get your raise. It's grueling. And weird.

And reading over what my peers and managers had to say about me was, well, a little soul-crushing. Part of it is the form -- just as I had to write basically the same thing about myself 100 times, so did my reviewer have to sythesize a handful of comments from others into 100 slightly different mini-essays about me. So I guess I only have two real areas for improvement (communicating with my team about the status of my projects and coming up with more creative solutions instead of just hitting my deadlines, although apparently I excel at deadline-hitting), but reading about them over and over in the evaluation form made me feel like my co-workers think of me as a mute, bitter automaton who can only perform as programmed. What seemed like strengths in moderation came to feel like weaknesses when magnified 100x, and my weaknesses felt like full-blown personality disorders that probably require immediate pharmaceutical intervention. The whole ordeal stressed me right into a raging migraine and an hour of pitiful weeping in Jim's arms about how nobody likes me because I'm a freakishly anal-retentive, antisocial weirdo.

But hey, 3.5% raise!

Replies: 17 Confessions

they have a 90 day, 100 mini essay in triplicate review process, and YOU are the one feeling like a anal-retentive weirdo?

see the wrongness?

shechemist @ 07/21/2005 08:46 AM CST

You should immediately seek employment in a company that is not completely insane!

msquick @ 07/22/2005 03:01 AM CST

to give you an idea of the bloodbath that was last years reviews, both me and a friend at the Corporation Which Shall Not Be Named had the same response, "3.5%, not bad at all"

gswift @ 07/22/2005 03:41 AM CST

It probably won't help, but you might try pointing out the number of man hours (person hours?) being wasted on this nonsense. (you guys ARE filling out all these essay questions on company time, right?)

Realist @ 07/22/2005 06:06 AM CST

It's not even "company time" since we have an agency-style setup -- we bill our clients for this bullshit. Don't even get me started on how we can't have an office supply cabinet because we have to bill our clients directly for pens and paper clips. If your clients don't have the budget to buy office supplies for you, you just have to wait for someone to quit, then raid that person's desk for post-its and staples and whatever else you need.

And looking for another job is out of the question at the moment. I was unemployed for most of 2003, then spent half of 2004 in a job that made me want to kill everything. So I just don't have the stomach for job hunting now. I actually like the job part of my job -- publication managing -- it's just the culture that's insane.

Amy C @ 07/22/2005 06:48 AM CST

At my company my entire dept. resubmits their previous year's performance evaluation forms totally unchanged except for the date. Verbatum, unaltered. Pull it up out of a saved document file, type this year in over last and hit send. Nothing is ever said. I have 10 years here and I still use the first one I ever did. Corporate managers in the main are idiots and prime examples of the Peter Principle, lost souls promoted 1 or more levels beyond their capacity to perform to any standard resembling competency.

steve duncan @ 07/22/2005 08:04 AM CST

I worked at a bank once where the manager blabbed to me that they were told by higher ups when doing a performance review they were required to say something wrong about the employee.

So piss on them. Hell 3.5%! Not bad.

pro choice lib @ 07/22/2005 08:56 AM CST

Haw, try the gummint! I was always rated mediocre in relation to my peers since everyone knew I had no ambitions for higher position (I ran the Union, see?), and management HAD to have somebody in the "just average" category. Well, in terms of me, anyway, it was the most honest rating of the lot. Woo Hoo!

Ronzoni Rigatoni @ 07/22/2005 09:45 AM CST

Jeez. Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to just give you the lousy 3.5%?

Companies don't seem to value employee time even when they're on the clock.

Weird is right.

urizon @ 07/22/2005 10:24 AM CST

At my last job in cubeland we had to do something like that every year. They were called PDPs and I don't remember what PDP was an acronym for.

There were these online forms and you had to write mini-essays about your corporate skilz like "customer focus" and "boundarylessness". People who had done PDPs before would copy and paste whatever they wrote for last years. Then you gave yourself a score on a scale of 1 (very good) to 5 (very bad - fire me!) on these various skilz.

The funniest thing was everyone gave themselves 1s and 2s on everything until we got an email memo telling us that henceforth we could not give ourselves a score above 3.

Brian @ 07/22/2005 10:49 AM CST

Why the world of freelance rules.

My last performance evaluation went like this:

"Holy crap! I've got three more clients this year than last! I can now afford that fancy White Cheese Kraft diner! Good job! Have a beer!"

salvage @ 07/22/2005 12:06 PM CST


At my last job, I once "met" with a department Director about my annual review and pay raise. I say "met" because it was actually a phone conversation, and it wasn't until two years later that I actually met the man.

I forget what the actual increase I received was, but probably it was 3%. Slightly lower than the typical 3.5 or 4%.

The Director said to me something along the lines of, "the increase it what it is. The company is doing this because of what's going on in the job market." And that was pretty much that. The conversation lasted about two minutes.

Translation: Unemployment is up. Therefore your increase is DOWN from the normal amount.

I no longer work there.

Corporate Lackey @ 07/22/2005 12:57 PM CST

And corporations wonder why they are the target of terrorists and postals.

The company I just left tried to sell me on the Idea that a 3.5% raise was great, after my innovations, technical and organizational abilities saved the company an estimated $75,000 in the previous year. I saved you $75,000 and all I got was a lousy $1,100? Yuck fou.

I got hits for "attitude" a couple months later, because I happened to mention to my boss that I had sort of been expecting the promotion that had been promised me if I hit my goals--I had not only hit them, I had exceeded them beyond anyone's expectations! He said I should "be patient, these things take time."

Helen Wheels @ 07/22/2005 04:07 PM CST

I, along with the vast majority of the indians in my company, have not had any raise at all for four years. Last year they took one incident over a five year career and used it to deny me the annual bonus which I had been receiving to some degree for the previous four.

It is the first time in thirteen years' programming I've been in any position for more than three. For some strange reason, my job searches have not generated any result over the last three years. It seems the employers can demand and get exactly what they want in terms of experience, qualifications, and merits from the pool of applicants and lowball their candidates.

Translation: there's a dozen more of you waiting just outside that door. Be glad you're on this side of it. For now. Now get back to work!

And, by the way, isn't it funny how we can't qualify for any type of pay increase, yet annual COLAs are still standard fare in executroid world?

(: Tom :) @ 07/22/2005 08:26 PM CST

Ooh, be careful not to get Dooced.

Rumblelizard @ 07/22/2005 11:23 PM CST

At the end of the last century I tried to get a job at a company which was proud that it had mini-reviews every quarter, so the manager had an inkling what the workers were doing, and there was no senseless frenzy trying to do catch-up with a once a year review, which never works (and everyone knows it). Company sucked in a lot of ways, but it would have been a pleasant change to do reviews on a near-sensible schedule.

I eventually ended up at another company which also did quarterly reviews. They dropped that because it was so labor intensive (and HR didn't like lifting their little finger four times a year). Now we have once a year reviews, which do not take as much total labor, but the trade-off is they are totally meaningless, everyone knows it, and it's not going to change.

They had something that worked, and dropped it to save money.

J Edgar @ 07/23/2005 12:02 AM CST

Sounds like your company is in the business of making performance reviews.

Ol'Froth @ 07/24/2005 08:31 AM CST

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