Friday, December 4, 2015

performance appraisal hell

This was written yesterday morning:

Oh my F’ing….no….I won’t write it.  If anyone deserves to be struck by lightning, it’s me.  No doubt God already knows I thought it, but maybe there’s some wee chance that when I get to those Golden Gates, God will say, “Good for you.  There was one day when you kept your blasphemy in your head and didn’t spew it into the world.”  So, now I wonder if putting words in God’s mouth is bad thing too?  Probably.
It’s performance appraisal time.  F’ing AGAIN.  Every damn year, we go through this same bullshit.  I’m sure all the poor peon dredges of corporate America must suffer through this same torture.  I’m trying to do my appraisal this morning.  I got up for my third cup of water (obviously drinking water is my procrastination strategy this morning, besides writing a blog post).  In the break room, there stood Tim, waiting for coffee to brew (I presume…he was just standing there staring at the coffee machine).  I asked him how it was going.  He glared at me, “Writing that cock-suckin’ performance shit today.  I’d rather they just punch me in the face and kick my balls.”  I couldn’t help laugh at him.  He really is one of the more religious people in this office; to hear his language was completely inspiring.

How do we waste time in this company?  Performance appraisals.  Supervisors already had meetings in September to determine what our raises will be in 2016.  Well of course – they have to – salaries go into the budget and the budget for 2016 is set by October 1.  Duh!  So come December, employees have to pretend that we have some say into what our “merit” raises will be for 2016.  We have to write up pages about all our successes and failures through the year, and then organize them into categories and rank them, so it all comes down to a number, 1 through 5.  If you’re a 1 or 2, you’re eligible for promotion.  If you are a 3, you do your job.  If you are a 4 or 5, you suck.
Understand, all of us are located here because when our company was acquired, we accepted positions with the new company on condition that we did not have to move to corporate mecca (headquarters), which is about 5 hours north of here.  Those of us who were retained (because we were critical to the acquisition for one reason or another) got to remain in the same building of our previous employer.  Lovely, but there was a catch – a penalty for not embracing mecca and all it has to offer.  Nobody new will ever be hired to work here, and nobody will ever be promoted.  It’s been about 15 years now.  We’re all getting older and our numbers are declining as people retire.  At every retirement celebration, we speculate who will be left to turn the lights off.

Why didn’t we move?  There’s a HUGE culture difference – H U G E!!  Kentucky is like a third-world country to people in that part of the country.  In truth, I may have at least considered moving but it would have caused lots of problems.  I was divorced and Sarah’s dad lived here – that would have been a huge problem for visitation.  I had an excellent babysitter here, and I was helping to take care of my grandparents who lived not too far from here.  Also, Someone would have never agreed to move away from his family who are all here, unless I was transferring to Myrtle Beach.
The point is, we already know we have to be a 3 because we can’t be promoted.  A few of the younger people always try to get by with a 2, but then they are told to revise.  The thing is, the number relates directly to the percentage of pay increase.  What that means is, not only can we never be promoted, we can never get the pay increase our accomplishments warrant.  The way a boss explained it to me was that they will not be put into a position to have to justify any of us being eligible for promotion and not getting one.

I’ve learned to be very careful so that I don’t have to write the stupid thing over.  I always rate myself a 3, but several times I’ve had to rewrite sections because my quantified accomplishments and client reviews were too favorable for the final rating of 3.  The last time that happened, after the second rewrite (and before the third), I told my supervisor, “Why don’t you just write this yourself or tell me exactly what you want to see on it?  Obviously the facts don’t matter and I can’t read your mind!”  That didn’t go over well.
The moral of this long, boring story is, suck it up and get it done.  Begin with the end in mind.  Assume my clients are going to rate me high (they always do), and whatever I write, focus on the failures rather than the successes.  The good news is that this may be the last time I ever have to write one.  Part-time employees don’t do them at all (and neither do retirees).
Tomorrow at 2:30, I’m going to pull the trigger after our usual project review meeting.  After we’re done, he always says, “Is there anything else?”  I always say, “Nope.  I’m good,” but tomorrow will go differently.  I’m smiling just thinking about it…and now I hear Tim bitching to the guy next door about “this fucking thing”…which reminds me I’d better get  back to work on mine.

News from today.

My supevisor and I had the meeting today at 3:45.  He rescheduled twice and I thought for sure he’d wind up cancelling completely, but be didn’t.  After we discussed business, before he could hang up, I dropped the bomb.  It’s part-time beginning January or I leave in early January (probably just before spring term starts).  He will give me an answer by next Friday, he promised.  I can almost smell light at the end of this long tunnel.

I finished the F’ing performance appraisal today, a little more than 5 hours ahead of the 11:59 PM deadline.  Thank the Lord!  It’s over. 

In other exciting news, University #2 invited me to apply for a full-time job opening.  It’s an exciting prospect, but I’m not sure I want the job.  I need to learn more about it, but basically it’s not a teaching job, but more of an administrative job – supervising other faculty, resolving disputes with students, scheduling students and faculty into classes, writing reports.  Hmmmm…sounds a bit like work.  



Bruce Johnson said...

I read this with a certain amount of amusement and bewilderment. My background has also included performance appraisals at my past jobs. Your piece shows that somethings are the same everywhere and yet somethings are totally different depending on where you work and where you live.

I worked for almost 25 years in state government (Arizona). The various state agencies I worked in also were 'supposed' to have performance reviews, but they rarely happened. If they did, they tended to go like this...."you are one of the BEST workers here, Please don't quit!". Seriously, that is what they all came to down to. You see, in Arizona government, there were no promotions. If you got promoted, you did twice as much work for, maybe a 1% raise. So it was not something that you pursued. Most state workers primary goal was to find another job outside of government.

Many government workers are there only for the benefits, usually for themselves and their families. If you wanted to 'earn money' you found a partner or a spouse that could make bigger bucks and you brought home the essentials (healthcare and utility payments).

Arizona State Employees have NEVER received a cost of living raise and are still operating at the same pay scale that they had in the 1980s.

So in essence, if we did have a performance review (because HR was screaming for them), it was usually along the lines of give me a good one or I walk. You don't pay me enough to take anymore bull shit.

Hence, one of the many reasons I am enjoying no longer working in civil service.

Good Luck........and GREAT JOB!!!

KYLady said...


My husband works for the state of West Virginia so I’m well versed in what it means to have a government job – great benefits and low pay. Still I have to wonder how Arizona keeps anyone with no pay raises since the 1980s. Those must be some awesome benefits (or some very desperate employees).