The Appraisal

Today I received my appraisal to “review and sign”.
It was not a task I was looking forward to: putting my name to a document that had clearly been drafted by an incompetent dinosaur who couldn’t ‘manage’ a piss up in a brewery.

Not only had one of my “notable achievements” been the successful typing up of a report (wow, thanks!), but I had also managed to competently organise the keys in the key cupboard.

Now, if that was all I’d done, fair enough. Or even if I’d made a complete pigs ear of everything else. But that’s the problem when you work for a dinosaur. They don’t notice things that they can’t do themselves. They can’t understand how it’s saved someone several hours a week, or hundreds of pounds.

For example. The code I wrote to format the useless expenses spreadsheets I get sent. Or the whole review of our contracts and suppliers to make sure we were getting the best deals.

Why didn’t I mention this in my appraisal meeting? Well I did. But this hideous document had already been written. And it was hard enough for me explaining how to put a watermark onto a word document. Let alone trying to explain what code is.¬†

So what should you do in this scenario? I personally did nothing. I was confident enough in my own abilities to know that keeping quiet would save me a lot of hassle. Arguing with a Dinosaur is pointless. After realising they are in the wrong, they will ultimately just pull rank on you and you’ll have to agree with them anyway. So I saved myself about half an hour of pain, and used that time to start looking for another job.

But if you are at the start of your career, an episode like that can really throw you. It will make you start to question your ability. My advice would be to suck it up, and then when you are away from the office, personally evaluate what has been said. Be critical. Could you have submitted that report any quicker? Should you have suggested a better way of doing something when you knew a better way? You don’t have to discuss it with anyone, but really think about it. If you think that perhaps you could have done better, start doing better! Think about where you are in your career. Is organising a key cupboard really an achievement? If it is, then great.
Finally, think about if you care about your appraisal. 9 times out of 10 you really should. If you think your boss’s criticism has been fair, go and ask him what you need to do in order to get a better one next time. A good boss will be able to give you reasonable pointers on how to improve. Take them on board and do them so that he notices that you are heeding to advice and genuinely want to do better. A bad boss will just tell you to work harder or “do better”. If he says this, you are likely to get the same old story next time around. A boss like this probably gives bad appraisals with no improvement advice so that he doesn’t have to pay you a bonus. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it never gets better. My advice here would be to start looking for a better boss.

What is your boss like with appraisals? Does he or she offer constructive advice? Do they just fob you off? What is the most helpful advice you have ever been given about an appraisal?

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How to lose employees and demotivate everyone

It was brought to my attention recently that one of the senior staff members at my company decided on a new tactic on how to motivate staff.

Did he take some work from someone to free up their time to catch up? No.
Did he offer an afternoon off to thank someone for staying late several times that week? No.

He decided that it would be in the company’s best interests to tell this person that they were thinking of delaying the hire of a second analyst because they felt that this person could just work harder. He asked, having seen this person browsing the internet a couple of times, whether they stayed late simply because they did personal activities during the day!

This employee therefore decided that since her extra efforts and staying late (sometimes until 8 or 9pm) were making it look like she was dossing about during the day, she started leaving at 5.30pm on the dot. When her boss was travelling, she wasn’t available to answer his emails. She stopped going over and above, and ultimately started looking for another job.

A couple of weeks before this, the same staff member had gone to the effort of printing out my entire internet browsing history and presented it to me like a cat presents a dead bird to its owner. He seemed proud that he’d just killed about 16 trees.

The conversation went a little like this:

Him: I know you do a lot of research for other team members but your internet history is way larger than anyone else’s.
Me: if you know I do a lot of research for other team members, why are you asking me about it?
Him: because I want to know if any of these websites were browsed for personal use.
Me: of course some are. I’m here from 8am to 6pm, and I have a lunch break. At what times were all those sites accessed?
Him: I don’t have¬† that information
Me: so they could all have been accessed over my lunch breaks?
Him: were they?
Me: I don’t have that information
Him: why did you visit the John Lewis website so often on this date?
Me: I had to order all the glasses and cutlery for the office
Him: ok so why have so many hotels come up on your history?
Me: you mean when I was asked to research hotels for our offsite?
Him: ok well what about Sainsbury’s?
Me: you asked me to look at how much it would cost to have our tea and coffee delivered. Is there anything there that I’ve accessed which is in breach of our company policies?
Him: I’ve not looked through it thoroughly yet
Me: ok well how about you do that and then come back to me if you have any questions. I will be happy to answer anything.

About two hours later he went over to the shredder with that wad of paper (including everyone else’s by the looks of it!) and it was never spoken of again!

Way to go to make it look like you spy on everyone! I’m keeping an eye out for when the security cameras get installed.