I relocated to a new state in 2006 and have just completed my first year at the company I am now with. So it’s time for the performance review. I did my self review – the standard rate yourself from 1 – 5 on a bunch of different things blah blah blah. Today my boss came into my office with the review and said to me “You weren’t here when we did the training on how to fill these out. We don’t believe that anyone really exceeds 3 except maybe once in a while they have a 4 and maybe rarely we give a 5. Oh and if you have any room for improvement in anything at all to do with the item you need to rate yourself a 2. So would you please go back and redo your performance appraisal.”
That isn’t what the review descriptions say. A 3 is in a nutshell an average performer who comes in the required hours, does what is required and no more or less. A two is someone who needs improvement just to meet minimum standards.
I work whatever hours I need to to get the job done. I not only do the minimum but in the year I have been here I have suggested and implemented for my customers higher standards and extra services that this office has never before provided. I step up to help others with less experience and to back them up when they are not in ( some of them are not in a lot). I have designed technical checklists, am participating on a company wide team to redesign our proposal form ( for which I have been getting rave reviews from the woman in charge which my boss shared with me), handle the five largest accounts in the office and keep them extremely happy ( which again management knows and has commented on to me), mentor the newer employees and generally have tried in every way to be a role model and assist in bringing our service up a level. Which was one of the reasons I was hired – they’ve never had anyone of my experience or caliber here and sold me on coming in with an opportunity to give back some of what I have learned over the years to newer less experienced employees.
But now I have been essentially been told to go back and redo my review and rate myself as average because that’s how it’s done here. I am not average – I am confident enough in myself to know that is not the case and I have received enough feedback from various colleagues and clients to know I am not being arrogant in placing what I feel is an appropriate value on my work. And no I did not rate myself all 5′s – that would be ridiculous. In fact I don’t think I gave myself any 5′s. I mostly gave myself 4′s and some 3′s in areas where I feel I don’t measure up to my standards.
I don’t intend to change my self review. I will be happy to listen to what my boss says about his rating of me ( which I suspect will be significantly lower than my self ratings) and I am always open to ways to improve what I do.
Frankly I suspect the real issue here is that this office (for a variety of reasons) is in a rebuild mode and financial results are not as good as they would like them to be. My guess is that the salary raises are tied to review grades and they don’t want to give me a raise so what better way than to rate me as average and keep the increase (if any) to a minimum.
Whatever. Money is not my motivator however. My motivator is feeling that I have done a better than average job, have learned something new and will have an opportunity to expand into new areas and to keep being challenged. Today’s conversation left me feeling completely de-motivated and irritated. I certainly don’t feel very valued and am seriously wondering if I want to continue to give my all to a company that apparently has so little appreciation for what I have to offer.
Disengaged and De-Motivated
Oh for heaven’s sake. Your management has no clue about the purpose of performance appraisals. Yes, I believe in paying for performance, but if you don’t have a budget for large increases you don’t give large increases. You take whatever your budget is and make sure your top performers get the top increases.
A 5 point rating scale is silly unless you are actually going to use all 5 points. It sounds like your company really has a 3 point scale–2, 3, and 4–with 80-90% as 3s. In my never to be humble opinion, you might as well not have a rating system if you are going to lump everyone together. Why? Because, let’s say we have a layoff and I need to eliminate 10 positions. If there are 100 people in the same job, and 5 are rated 4 and 5 are rated 2 and 90 are rated 3, how do I pick who goes? Sure, the 5 2 rated employees are out of there and the 5 4 rated employees are safe, but what about the remaining 5? Surely, all 90 of those people are not identical performers, but I have no documentation to show that they aren’t the same.
Sigh. You can’t re-do your company’s lame rating structure (and it may not be the entire company–it may be your director, or division, that has these lame-brained ideas), and so we are left with what you can manage.
I totally get the idea of saying, “this is my self-evaluation and this is how I evaluated my SELF so it stands” and then taking whatever final evaluation comes your way via your supervisor. This is bound to tick off your manager. (And keep in mind, that sometimes managers disagree with policies that are thrust upon them, but they have to support the policy and PRETEND they love it. It’s part of being a manager.) Do you want to do that? You may well. I would.
I would tend to play dumb in this situation. “I see what you are saying, but the definitions on the self-evaluation form don’t match up to what you’re talking about. It says here that a 3 is an average employee. I look around and my [something quantitative here--customer satisfaction scores, for instance] are significantly higher than my co-workers. To me, that means I’m performing above average. Can you explain to me why I should put down a 3 for this?” Or, “What would I need to do for your to consider me a 4 in this situation?” And then wait for the response.
It sounds like an overall bad situation. But, your manager needs to keep in mind that it is his rating that “counts,” not yours. (Although I admit, I used to copy and paste from my employees’ self evaluation when I wrote their final appraisals.) (And no worries about plagiarism, they all approved of my methods–it was to their benefit.)
No matter what, make sure that either your original self-appraisal, or comments that you make on your final appraisal end up in your file. And keep a copy of everything. (Note to everybody else, please keep a copy of your performance appraisals. The employee records people dislike having to pull out paper copies for you. And they talk to us, and bugging the people who are responsible for firing you is never wise.)
Your company is a perfect example of why performance appraisals are so incredibly painful. It’s bad enough to have your flaws written about and discussed. It’s worse to have your accomplishments ignored. The end result of policies like this is that poor performers feel justified in continuing on their lazy path (hey, I’m a 3, that means I’m average, so I’m doing fine), and good performers start looking to leave (I know I’m not average at my job, so I’ll find someone else who appreciates me). In the long run, their attempt to save money by keeping ratings down will backfire.
And since they are dumb enough to not know that just because someone is highly rated it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to keep them, they are probably too dumb to realize why their top performers leave frequently.