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Write Your Own Ticket

February 26, 2018

If they tell you to ‘write your own check,’ write a big check

My son-in-law works for a company that has unlimited vacation and sick time. Studies have found that rather than make people more likely to take time off, people tend to take less time for fear they will be judged poorly for taking time away.

It’s just one of many policies in business that can tend to have the opposite of it’s intended results. When I worked for Microsoft, we had an allocated number of vacation days. However, Microsoft in the early 2000’s was a very busy place. People tended to work and do little else. To correct the problem, management instituded a rule. Supervisors would be evaluated on how many days their employees took off. In other words, if your employees didn’t take enough vacation time, it came out of your bonus. We all got much better at taking time off.

It’s review time at my job. Actually, review time is anytime during the year. Your review date is the same as your hire date. Well, almost. In fact, I’m late on my review. I was hired in mid-March. But, a couple years ago, I got a raise and a slightly different job title and it all happened at the beginning of February.

I have two bosses. This is the first year in this new arrangement. I “solid line” to a Senior VP in the IT department and I “dotted line” to a VP in customer service. The Customer Service VP is my day-to-day boss. But, the two of them together are going to write the review. Well, they are just as soon as I get it written. I’ve been asked to write my own review and then submit it to management and let them edit it or add additional comments.

It’s a good process. It lets the managers know (in case they didn’t) what the employee has been working on and what the employee thinks is important. And the employee (that’s me) gets to emphasize the thinks I think are important.

Great. I get to “write my check.” Easy, peasy, right? All I have to do is write down all the stuff that will make me look good. How tough could that be? And I can focus on the good stuff and downplay the bad stuff. Well, maybe not downplay them too much. I mean, my boss does know about any screwups this year. So, we’d better include the screwup section.

But, the rest of it, is wide open and up to me. All I have to do is highlight my outstanding contributions this year. That should be easy. But, it’s really been a team effort. My boss has been in almost every meeting that I’ve been in this year. I can’t get too crazy on the praise thing.

But, going too lowkey can be an equal problem. If I paint myself as a shrinking violet, who really didn’t do much, not only will my boss know I’m lying, and not be impressed, anyone who doesn’t know I’m lying will wonder what they pay me for?

Writing your own review is a skill. It’s one that despite my extensive writing background, I still struggle with. How to strike the balance between modesty and braggadocio? Fortunately, I’ve saved my weekly reports for the year. I will review them. I’ve also done several big projects. Those will go in there. I’ve worked successfully with teams across my compnay and across the client’s company.

Reveiw time is my least favorite time of year. And the fact that it comes during tax season just makes it all the worse.

Well, I’m off to write my check. Hopefully there’s enough in the bank to cover it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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