Not so sure about performance

Read this article on performance reviews.

Here’s my take on them: not everyone hates them.  I’d say only about 70% of us hate them.

As a person who has seen more than their share of sucky performance reviews over the years, I’m in the 70%.  My reviews have only very rarely represented my work, attitude, and value.  This is true of most people, I suspect.  Performance reviews are a well-instituted lie that perpetuates and promotes corporate aims.  Corporate aims for the last 30 years or so have been mostly to excuse layoffs and “out-sourcing.”  Therefore, the majority of us have been the subjects of sucky reviews, or at least meaningless reviews (as in the case of people who get fabulous reviews and then get laid off anyway — which has also happened to me).

However, even a good review can have its uses.  Remember Nurse Bully?  Yes, that’s the bitch I used to work for…the one who helped drum me out of a job just because she had no idea how much I was doing, and apparently didn’t realize it until after I quit.  Well, I went through several years of performance reviews from that chunky bitch, and none of them had anything to do with reality.  They all had to do with a very nice person who came to work every day and did totally out-of-the-textbook tasks that had nothing to do with the job that I was actually doing, or that anyone in the company was doing.  I signed them because I’d heard from other employees that she did this to everyone; in fact, in one notable case, an employee kept receiving copies of old reviews written by a previous manager.  Nurse Bully simply had no idea what anyone was doing, period.

So why didn’t I mind?  (1) I got raises, and (2) the reviews came in handy when she forced me out of my job.  You see, here I was, this nice person coming to work every day doing her mythical job, actually not seeing nor talking to Nurse Bully for weeks on end, and all of a sudden Nurse Bully was trying to claim I was a sucky old cuss who refused to do any work and was insubordinate and resistant to all her numerous kind efforts to help me.

It became very easy to prove the wide gap between what I’d been like and what I’d been doing, the performance reviews she’d written, and the way she suddenly claimed I was and what she claimed I had been doing.  This was especially damaging to her because for a long period of time I’d been doing work that was normally assigned to those earning at least a third more than I was.  And she had no idea.

And so I may have been eligible for unemployment, even though I had quit the job.  Of course, Nurse Bully, like most bullies, is an extremely lucky bitch, because I found a new job immediately.

Performance reviews at my new job aren’t much better than at the old one in terms of accuracy, but at least I’ve caught on to their value.  I keep a copy of every one.

So should we eliminate them?  Probably.  Will we?  No.  Like miniskirts worn by most women, and jeans 20 sizes too large worn by boys and men, they are a bad idea that refuses to be forced to go away.

And so we must figure out a way to make them such a liability that they eventually go away willingly.  In the case of performance reviews, I have figured out how we might do that, and I invite all workers to do the same.

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