why we should keep performance evaluations, work habits you need to change at each stage of your career, and more

Over at the Fast Track by QuickBase today, I take a look at several big work-related stories in the news right now: why we should keep performance evaluations, work habits you need to change at each stage of your career, and more. You can read it here.

{ 19 comments… read them below }

  1. Grendel*

    Letting people know where they stand needs to happen, but the formalized “Performance Evaluation” as used in large corporations needs to go. The process has been so corrupted that it obscures rather than illuminates. It’s used to justify compensation, and there are a lot of factors that go into comp besides just the individual’s performance. For example, maybe there is a mediocre performer who is critical to keep for some business reason, or a good performer who is way underpaid compared to an even better performer. So you have to give the lower performers better ratings to justify the money you need to give them and either tell the higher performers that they are getting lower ratings than their performance justifies or talk down how well they performed. How many managers have had to say, “We could only give you a Meets this year but you’re an Exceeds in my book.” Of course management needs to make the sausage of doling out limited budgets and do that by in part evaluating their employees. But making that “transparent” and pretending it’s only about the individual’s merit is not the answer.

  2. Atrocious Pink*

    Very thought-provoking on performance evaluations. I have to admit, I hated them when I was at a big firm where they were strictly pro forma, virtually content-free, and seemed like needless paper-pushing. But where I am now at a small firm where they aren’t done at all — I have to admit, it actually is worse, and I hadn’t thought of it that way before. It would be nice for them to have to look me in the eye and say “Yes, we know we’ve heaped all sorts of unprecedented new responsibilities on you and you’ve handled them all with aplomb, but nah, you’re still no more valuable to us than any of your peers.”

    1. Anon for this*

      We have a process for evaluations, but for years they weren’t being done. Some people liked that, but I want to have some way of knowing if I’m doing what’s expected of me and some way to discuss the path my career is taking. It is very hard to work some place where your job changes significantly but no new set of expectations is provided. Do I do the new thing *and* all the old things? Just some of the old things? None of the old things? If my goal is to do more of XYZ, how can I get there?

  3. Gaara*

    I hate the fact that my employer doesn’t do performance evaluations. No annual review, no periodic meetings with supervisor, nothing. It make me feel like no one is paying attention to whether I do my job well or not.

  4. Jesmlet*

    I’m not 100% sure but I’m guessing the company I’m at doesn’t do performance evaluations. It’s a small company and very relaxed, my boss sits 15 feet away from me and my grandboss is about 30 feet away so lots of little comments but probably nothing formal. On the one hand, I like the regular comments, on the other I’d like a summary at some point. That’s a little frustrating…

    1. OhNo*

      I agree. My job does do performance reviews, and I’m always really glad to get mine. It’s really helpful for me to hear what my boss sees as trends in my work or performance. I’m too close to see how certain behaviors impact everything else. I’m so busy looking at the trees, that it’s nice to have a formalized time to sit down and hear, “You’ve done good work on the elms, and here’s how that has been affecting the forest as a whole.”

    2. Manders*

      I’m having the same problem! I work for a small company, and 3 months after I started, everyone in the office got a performance evaluation. I was told at the time that they were done every 6 months, but I’ve been here for over a year now and I haven’t had another.

      There’s been a lot of turnover in that time too, so I’d really like to know how I’m doing/whether raises are happening. I don’t know whether they’re scheduled for some time in the future, or if the bosses just forgot about them.

    3. nonymous*

      Can you ask for an annual meeting (once you’ve been there 12+ mos)? Even though I get an annual PE, my employers have always expected me to self-review ahead of time, and as long as your organization is good about raises, just going through that summary with your boss is the most important part.

      The rest is just paperwork to justify the raise.

  5. Rincat*

    My previous employer (a private university) didn’t do any kind of evaluations. When me and my coworkers asked our director why that was, she told us that the administration doesn’t want anyone thinking they can ask for raises or promotions, so they don’t evaluate anyone. Welp…..(yeah we all left eventually, for that and other reasons…)

  6. LQ*

    I want to know what I can do better, what I need to change, what I’m awesome at. I’m doing a 360 review this year and I’m very interested to see the results. Hopefully I’ll learn more. My boss basically always says I’m doing a great job and continue on with what I’m doing, which coupled with no regular meetings makes me question often if I’m doing the right thing. Apparently? But I’m not always sure what that right thing that I’m doing is, especially since I feel like I’m frequently changing tactics. Feedback is good.

  7. Jean*

    I find it hard to read any kind of article over at Fast Track. The screen is so busy! And a full third of it is taken up by the title bar and the pop-up that appears when you scroll down to read.

    1. krysb*

      I’ve had similar issues with that site. I had forwarded an article to our Culture Warrior (yes, that’s his title), and had to be like “the site’s super-busy and kind of ugly, but this is good info.”

  8. Anonymous on Thursday*

    Our performance evaluations are 9 pages long. It includes a page for department goals, performance goals and personal goals. If you fill out your section of goals and the supervisor doesn’t like them, you have to come up with new ones. No collaboration, no discussion with your supervisor, just “here it is, fill it out”.

    I would be 100% ago with doing away with it and meeting with my supervisor quarterly to discuss performance and what I/we need to be doing better.

  9. Anonymous Educator*

    Seems to be a bit of a false dichotomy of either horrible formal bureaucratic performance evaluations or “no” performance evaluations (i.e., just hidden). I think there is a place to make thoughtful ones that aren’t just boiler-plate forms that have nothing to do with your job. I also hate performance evaluations that require you to evaluate your own performance instead of your boss doing it for you. Look, if I think I’m making a mistake, I’ll fix it. If my boss thinks I’m making a mistake, that’s where the communication has to come in.

    I also see interesting parallels here to school. I used to think grades were horrible… until I taught at a school with “no grades.” There is no such thing as “no grades.” Just as with performance evaluations at work, there are evaluations at school, too, and there should be. But if you go with narratives instead of letter grades, both parents and admission offices alike waste a lot of time reading between the lines to get an actual evaluation out of the words. No, evaluations in school do not have to be A, B, C, D, F, but they can still be meaningful if explicit. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t know where to improve and go from there.

    1. Grapey*

      I like being able to evaluate my own performance so I can show my boss where I think I excelled and would like to highlight those projects in the off chance he forgot about them during evaluations. It’s also a common way to say what your future goals/desires are.

      1. nonymous*


        Also, it makes me be more considerate of my time throughout the year. If I know 50% of my PE is for teapot cozy making and teapot spouts pulled me in for a giant project, that’s something I need to communicate formally with my supervisor. Either the cozy quota needs to be reduced or I’ll say “no more” to the spout team.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Well, again, going with the school analogy, I think there needs to be differentiation among workers the same way teachers face pressure to differentiate among students’ learning styles. Some workers prefer to do their own self-evaluations. Others don’t. A good manager will know what will make you better / happier. There doesn’t have to be a blanket policy that applies to everyone.

  10. Danae*

    I left an otherwise stable and well-paying job at one point because the performance review process took nine months of the year and seemed to be custom designed to provoke my anxiety. I work in one of those small but vital tech niches where our measure of success is that nobody has any idea how much work we put in. If people notice you, it’s because you’ve messed up, and the goal is to do as much work as humanly possible without anyone noticing. Giving someone in my role a goal to make their contributions known across the group is basically setting us up for failure.

    Apparently that company has cleaned up its act since and stack ranking is no longer quite such a thing, and the review cycle itself lasts only six months of the year rather than nine. I am so happy to be working for a company that doesn’t do performance reviews now, though. I know how well I’m doing, and what my professional strengths and weaknesses are.

    (I’d probably be more in favor of reviews if they led to raises and promotions. Neither of those things are possibilities for someone in my niche–if you want either of those things, you have to change jobs. Reviews for people in my little niche are basically opportunities to put us on notice if we’re in danger of losing our jobs.)

Comments are closed.