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Performance Reviews And That Dream About Taking A Test

March 9, 2018

You know that dream where you are taking that test that you haven’t prepared for?

This wasn’t like that. It was more like taking a test that you knew you were going to ace. Except it was like that dream because it was a performance review, which is like a test.

My company does performance reviews annually on your hiring anniversary. I got to do mine today.

I hate performance reviews. You might think it’s because I do poorly on them. Last year, I was really struggling. Not in my job. I was doing fantastic. The client loved me. My coworkers loved me. Everybody loved me. Everybody except my boss. Oh, and his boss. Like oil and water, no matter how much we shook up our relationship, we couldn’t seem to coalesce. If you are going to pick one person at your job to not have a problem with, it should be your manager.

He tried. I tried. Everybody tried and it was just getting worse. And then it came time for my review. I hate reviews. (Oh, I said that already. But, yeah, it’s important to this part of the story.) I wrote my review and evaluated myself on the various parts of the review form. I new it wasn’t going to go great. And I think it’s an employee’s responsibility as much as the manager to form a good working relationship.

I put myself down for a moderate review score. It was still too high.

My manager went through and did his portion of the review and it became obvious that we were not only not on the same page, we weren’t even in the same book. He rated me substantially lower than I’d rated myself.

Okay. That was kind of expected and we worked through the appeal process and finally sent a review to HR with two sets of scores. Mine on one page, his on the other.

Fortunately, it was right around that time that the company did a slight reorg. Well, it was smaller than slight. It was a reorg of one. Me.

I ended up with the same job, but a completley different management structure. New Manager, and the freedom to perform my job in the way I wanted. I ran with it. My new manager and I meshed like peanut butter and jelly. We accomplished some amazing things. We completely revamped our IT infrastructure for four locations across the US. We created new processes. We sailed through our annual audits.

It was awesome.

We are back to review time. Again, I’m back writing my own review. I have utmost confidence and trust in my manager, so I had no urge to skew the numbers at all. If I thought I deserved a 2 in a particular area I was struggling at, I put a 2. If I thought I deserved a 5 in an area I was excelling at, I put a five. At the end I gave myself a slightly better than average overall score. It was one I felt very comfortable with. Being comfortable with my score did not mean I was comfortable with the review process. I still hate reviews. To me, it really is like taking a test. Except I enjoy tests more than review meetings.

My manager is located on the East coast and I’m in Utah. So, it was a Skype meeting. He delayed the meeting for a few minutes while he reset his VPN connection to ensure it wouldn’t time out during the call.

The review went exactly as I expected. Well, slightly better since on several areas I’d rated myself a 3 and my manager bumped it to a 4. Not a lot of areas, but a few. He agreed with the 2’s and we talked about how to improve those. He agreed with the 5’s and congratulated me on my hard work.

We were at the last page. The page were the final review score was recorded. . .and my internet connection died. Well, it died and immediately came back. Did I mention that I’m the IT guy on my boss’s team? I’m the guy they look to when their are technical issues. Once I got back reconnected, he found it particularly amusing that it was my side of the connection that had died.

And right at the best part!

I’d given myself a better than average score. My boss did not agree. He gave me an outstanding score. Apparently I tend to give away too much of the credit on my projects. I think he ranked me a little too high, but given last year’s review, I said I’d take it.

You’d think that being told you’re not only doing well, you’re doing better than you thought, would relieve all the pressure that led up to the review.

You’d be wrong. I still hate reviews. I admit, I hated this one a little less than most.

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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