The performance review

Hello! I got wrapped up at work doing my job and didn’t have time to post for a while. Sorry!

Anyway, having been at Bureau Kensington for a year – how did that happen already? – last week I had my annual performance review.

The only other performance review I’ve ever done was about ten years ago for a menial job I held at a certain mega-corporation which shall remain nameless. The point of that review, at least from the point of view of the employee, was to determine how big of a raise you got. The employee was graded on a scale of 1-3 – 1 being inadequate; 2 meeting expectations; and 3 constantly exceeding expectations. A review of mostly 1s meant disciplinary action/firing; mostly 2s meant a 5% raise (about $0.40/hour); mostly 3s meant a 25% raise, which is huge if you’re making just above minimum wage. Sounds fair, right? Well, it’s hard to “constantly exceed expectations” in a food service environment – the expectations were basically “prepare the customer’s order to standard, tidy up the store, and be friendly and welcoming to people”. How do you go up from there? – and suffice to say hardly anyone ever got it.

I didn’t. While I did the job perfectly adequately, I lacked the interest or motivation to go the extra mile – the only exceeding expectations I ever did was to track down and contact a lawyer who left his jacket behind in the shop. (As a reward he offered me 30% off legal services if I ever needed them. Sadly I’ve lost his business card, so if I ever commit a crime I’ll have to pay full price for my defense.) So I got mostly 2s and a 40 cent raise and quit a few months later, which was probably exactly what the company wanted.

My performance review at Bureau Kensington was obviously very different. For one thing, it involved a self-evaluation as well as a managerial evaluation. For another, it was much more about finding areas of growth, development, and improvement than in finding fault or weeding out bad employees.

It’s probably inevitable that a large company like Nameless Mega-Corporation would have to have a more or “top down” performance review process. There’s a big difference between reviewing the performance of several thousand employees in a heirarchical, low-wage environment, and reviewing a handful of professionals working collaboratively. However, as the one being reviewed, I can tell you a learned much more from the kindler, gentler, less loaded-against-the-employee Bureau Kensington review.

Judging from that entirely scientific tool, Google’s autocomplete function, performance reviews in general are not viewed favourably. When I typed “performance reviews are” into the search box, 3 of the 4 suggestions were “useless”, “bad”, and “a waste of time”. And my experience at Nameless Mega-Corporation made me share that opinion. The performance review I got there was all about making sure the company got its maximum value out of the princely $8/hour I was getting paid, nothing more.

But, you know, feedback is necessary for growth. If you want to get better at something – whatever that means – you need to know how good you are at it now, what you’re strong in, what you need to work on, what you’re missing entirely. For example, being without a conventional work history I know I have – along with some impressive skills and experience – some major gaps in my understanding of the customs of the corporate environment. (Remember the pink boots?) I went into my performance review last week somewhat nervous and apprehensive and came out feeling both affirmed that I am doing my job well and that I had tools and direction to improve and grow.

Starting next week I’ll be reading and responding to some more group relations texts. Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Tell me about your mother

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s