my performance evaluation is based on activities outside of work

A reader writes:

I started my new job about six months ago, and I knew from the beginning that things like professional development, networking, and community involvement were highly encouraged at this company. What I didn’t expect was for these things to be mandatory to the extent that my performance review is based on them. Activities I’m expected to do “on my own time” (aka unpaid) include things like participating in a formal mentorship program, attending a certain minimum number of educational webinars and networking events, and joining committees for professional associations in my industry. These are all explicitly listed on my performance review as my “goals” for the year, whereas my performance review includes very little about the work I’m actually paid to do during work hours.

To me, these activities are certainly beneficial and should be encouraged, and I would willingly do some of them even if they were optional. But it feels somewhat unreasonable and unfair to be formally evaluated at work based on how I spend my time outside of work. My job responsibilities are highly technical and project-oriented, and at my previous company, performance reviews were always focused on my actual performance in terms of project deliverables and the quality of my work.

As much as I love my career and appreciate opportunities for professional growth, I also have my own hobbies, social life, and commitments outside of work. I’m fine with working overtime to meet a deadline or participating in the occasional happy hour with coworkers, but I hate the idea of regularly sacrificing my evenings and weekends just to talk shop off the clock. I feel burnt out even just thinking about all these activities I’m supposed to be doing in my already-limited free time! The craziest part is that my new company really emphasizes work-life balance, and several of my coworkers have mentioned that the work-life balance is great here! It feels like I’m the only one bothered by all the “mandatory fun” outside of work hours.

Are these unpaid obligations normal and/or unavoidable if I want to be successful in this job? Am I just too introverted? Since I’m required to have some “goals” related to social relationships and community involvement for my performance review, is there still any way to shift the focus away from activities that happen outside of work hours?

Ooooh, I don’t like this.

There are some jobs where networking and community involvement is genuinely part of your success. And while in theory I’d like to say that if that’s the case, those things should happen during work time, the reality is that a lot of jobs don’t work that way (particularly since those jobs are usually exempt). But it’s bizarre that your performance evaluation focuses on these things while including very little about the work you do during work hours, or your actual results.

Frankly, I’d be fine with them including one goal in your evaluation that looks at this stuff more broadly (combining it all into one “relationship-building and community involvement” category), if indeed it’s a legitimate expectation of the role. But it sounds like it’s the primary focus of your review, which doesn’t make sense.

There’s a good chance that this is a poorly constructed review form (which are legion) rather than an accurate reflection of the relative important of work vs. non-work items to your company. But it creates a useful opening for you to have this conversation with your manager! You could say, “I noticed that the goals on my evaluation are nearly all about things I’d do in my own time, like networking, rather than about my more direct work goals like XYZ, and it made me wonder to what extent I’m assessed on those out-of-work activities versus my project deliverables.” You could also say, “I appreciate opportunities for networking and community involvement, and I’d seek some of those out no matter what, but I also value down time and room for other commitments. I know the company emphasizes work-life balance, and so I’m hoping we can talk about what this would ideally look like in practice.”

It’s possible that you’ll find out that the review form is giving you an inaccurate idea of what’s really expected. (Which would be a huge problem with the review form! But that’s not uncommon.) Or it’s possible that you’ll realize that you can meet those goals with activities during work hours, like that your manager assumes you’ll do that mentoring work as part of your work day and even carves out time for it, or that people routinely take comp time if they spend an evening at a community event.

Or you could find out that yes, you are indeed expected to spend a significant amount of your own time outside of work on this stuff. If that’s the case, you could say something like, “Because I have commitments outside of work hours, can we talk about how I could meet these goals during the workday?” (Ideally you’d come prepared with some proposals for how to do that, like joining professional committees that meet during work hours or attending webinars during the workday.) If your boss isn’t open to that — or if she okays it but it’s clear that you won’t have time to do those things during the day without compromising the rest of your work — then at that point you’d need to figure out if you want the role in that configuration (and probably talk to colleagues to find out how much they’re really doing of that / how they manage it). But have that conversation first before you conclude anything.

Read an update to this letter.

{ 153 comments… read them below }

  1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    That is not normal, not well thought out and not in the best interest of you or the company.
    Best case, you do all these things…then you leave because you outgrow your current spot or just fine new opportunities through the networking this creates.
    Worst case, you burn tf out because you have two freaking jobs. It’s like high school. Grades are important but you need those extra curriculars to get into college! Flash back to Marcia Brady signing up for every club or team on the first day of school.
    BS. You are at your job to do your job. You should be evaluated on how you do your job.
    I agree that one outside growth opportunity is great as a goal, but if they can’t evaluate you on the work you do for them, management sucks.

  2. NeutralJanet*

    Given that your coworkers have mentioned that work-life balance is good at this company, you might try asking a coworker you’re close to how they navigate this sort of thing and how much time they actually spend on workshops/committees/etc outside of work. I’d imagine that if there was a large time commitment expected, the company might still say that they encourage good work-life balance, but none of your coworkers would.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, this is definitely worth checking out. I can see at least three possible reasons the coworkers think the work-life balance is good here:

      1) They don’t actually spend a lot of time on the outside of work professional development. Closer to two webinars/networking events per year and only really enthusiastic people join a committee/formal mentorship program.

      2) The coworkers aren’t expected to do outside of work professional development but the LW is.

      3) The coworkers have previously worked at places with way worse work-life balance, so this company’s expectations look good by comparison.

      Whatever the explanation is can inform the LW’s course of action: do the professional development if the expectations aren’t onerous, talk to management, start a job search, etc.

      1. EPLawyer*

        4. They enjoy all these activities and since they aren’t physically in the office, they still consider it a good work life balance.

        1. Pool Lounger*

          Actually enjoying them is a definite possibility. I was in libraries, and my colleagues spent so much time outside of work going to conferences, blogging/tweeting about the profession, writing articles, reading professional literature, visiting other libraries, etc. I loved the work but def got burned out on how much I was supposed to do outside of my hourly paycheck.

          1. Another Public Librarian*

            As a librarian, I do all this stuff on work time. I’m always amazed by the people in our profession who make it a way of life. I enjoy my job, but when I go home, I go home.

          2. INTPLibrarian*

            Haha, librarians were exactly who I thought of as this being normal. However, at my university it’s expected to do these things during work hours and conferences are both considered working hours and are paid for. I also happen to be one of those librarians who enjoys all of that and reads library-related stuff (not specifically related to my job) during my free time, but I realize not everyone feels that way.

            I do see networking as necessary for my job, though. Sometimes you just need help! And various networks are a great resource for me.

        2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          This. I have totally worked places where the work-life balance was okay to not-so-good, but it often didn’t really feel that way. We traveled! (To conferences and customer sites) We socialized! (With each other) We had fun! (At company events)

          As long as I didn’t need too much time for myself it was great. Since my partner was also traveling and networking a lot for her own firm at the time it didn’t seem bad. Looking back now I realize that while they created an excellent illusion of work-life balance, I was actually working a *lot*.

          To be clear, I liked working for the company. Even looking back I don’t regret my choices or feel like I was overworked, but if I’d had kids, or my partner got sick or something I don’t know how that would have worked.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            I’ve seen companies or particular projects that are set up to basically hire people right out of school, and arrange the work environment to seem like an extension of a group school project or organization. A team of 6-20 twenty somethings, traveling together, working together, socializing together during assignments at a particular client, for a particular length of time, then being spun off to another assignment when that one’s done. Implementation teams, financial audits and reviews, management consulting projects etc all use (or used to use in the recent past) that staffing model.
            The expectation was that those employees would have very little work life balance while on assignment, and would be “up or out” within a couple of years … either managing several teams without being on the road as much themselves, or off to some other job. The companies used all the travel, camaraderie, socializing to keep people going in spite of the crazy hours and all consuming nature of the jobs. And for some people it worked, for a while.

            But LW’s situation sounds different … with what they’ve seen showing that all the “deliverables”… the things that they do during “work” at their “real job” … aren’t considered, but all the social, networking stuff around the edges does … and it’s stuff LW themselves has to identify, initiate, schedule, manage, follow up on IN ADDITION to doing stuff during the workday.

            1. BasketcaseNZ*

              That sounds like the graduate programme I nearly got accepted for after I went back to uni.
              I was one of their top picks, but they had me come back in to chat about how the first two years of the grad system would work, because they were aware I was older and had different personal responsibilities.
              After a good chat, I walked away confident that not only would I have found the working style really hard to keep up with (I had a nearly 2 year old at the time), I also would have found the super formal, unavoidable, promotion structure completely stifling.

        3. Committee Slacker*

          It’s also possible that the activities are numerous, but not actually that time consuming. I’m on a few comittees in my field; there’s a difference between just showing up to discuss and vote (maybe an hour or two a month) and actively joining subcommittees and planning things. A committee event may also count as networking, killing two birds with one stone.

          When we don’t want to do these things at all, it’s easy to build a picture of having to go out to drinks with colleagues every week without fail, devoting every weekend to massive volunteer projects and never seeing family and friends. But the reality may be a few hours a month. Which isn’t great if you’d prefer to never have to do anything other than be an individual contributor, but isn’t as onerous as it initially feels.

      2. Snow Globe*

        5. They participate in these activities but during the work day. I’ve worked at a company that expected a lot of this kind of thing, but almost all of the stuff that I did was during the day, and I didn’t need to use PTO for it.

        1. Loulou*

          yes, maybe this is obvious in the context of OP’s workplace so they didn’t feel the need to mention it, but I wasn’t sure where the assumption that this is all outside of work time came from.

          1. The Person from the Resume*

            I agree. I do a lot of training on work time. They assign me the boring annual mandatory security, ethics, etc, training but also have a minimum of 40 hours of training per year. All of those 40+ hours are on the clock. Some of the organizatinal / reorganizational updates are considered training, but it also includes technical training related to my job. We have a LinkedIn learning subscription that I’ve taken advantage of. I do this training on quiet Fridays or during the quiet holiday season if I’m working. I would balk at doing this on my own time.

            Networking is a bit fuzzier since that usually would take place after hours.

            When I did particpate in work provided mentoring, it was on the clock too.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        My job encourages a lot of training, networking, etc., but the expectation is that it’s primarily during working hours! And like Alison said, it’s one small piece of your annual goals.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I would clarify as I do wonder if they don’t mean for this to be such a huge time commitment outside of work.

      I have about 5 online webinars assigned as part of my professional development, but they take only perhaps an hour to complete (company has a subscription). It’s fairly easy to do one or two per quarter when you have slow times. There are other opportunities, clubs, and volunteer activities, most notably MLK day off for those who want to volunteer.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, I was wondering about this too. My work offers a lot of this, but the expectation is that you’ll do it during down time, not as overtime. We even have a billing code for professional development activities.

        It doesn’t explain the bonkers review form- a review should really be asking about your actual job.

      2. NeedRain47*

        The way the OP uses quotes around “on my own time” makes me wonder if that’s a direct quote from the form, which would definitely make my hair stand on end.

        1. Wendy*

          I was wondering that, too. The very first assumption to check is that you’re expected to do this on your own, non-work time vs. weave these activities into your planned work on company time. Most of the cited activities could be handled during working hours, and so it becomes a prioritization conversation instead of one about how much time is needed outside of work to meet expectations.

          1. Suzie SW*

            It would also be understandable for them to require some activities which are outside of standard work hours, but are still compensated either in money or flexed time. I wonder if that’s an option here.

  3. a tester, not a developer*

    It boggles my mind that you could be terrible at your actual job, but get a glowing performance review because you have a mentor and joined some professional groups.

    1. River Home*

      I find that possibility unlikely. At companies where non-technical engagement is valued, it doesn’t replace doing one’s job. The performance review considers the entire picture.

      1. Lexie*

        I was once given a performance review that had nothing to do with my job. It was incredibly generic and subjective. I received a poor evaluation even though neither my supposed nor their supervisor could give me a single concrete example of what I did do well. When I appealed it I was told my only option was to have a second evaluation done based on my job description. I took that option since evaluations were supposed to be based on job descriptions per company policy.

      2. The OTHER Other*

        It SHOULD be unlikely, but based on the form which lists all these development activities and says very little about their actual job duties, it seems as though it’s a possibility here. Sound like a terrible process and/or manager.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Right, but based on the way this form is described, it implies you could be crap at your actual job, but still get a good review for all the other crap.

    2. NeutralJanet*

      That is so bizarre to me that it makes me think that the performance review is poorly written, which makes me think there’s a possibility that OOP isn’t actually expected to do a ton of out-of-work activities. I’ve been a regular reader of this column for years, so I’m certainly aware that there are companies that might operate in that way, but they have to be few and far between, right?

      1. Hannah Lee*

        As someone whose been a manager for a large org with highly defined review processes and also at smaller companies, this sounds like one of 3 things:
        1) a manager or someone involved in the review process is re-writing review forms based on whatever the last performance management issue was (ie if the last person in the position struggled with attention to detail, they update the form to include lots of deliverables, evaluative points around attention to detail and other stuff gets elbowed out) Talking to other employees or the manager should clarify this. “Hmm, there are other things that I thought were key to successful performance in this role that aren’t mentioned here. Just checking if I misunderstood what the key requirements were, or if we can come up with something that will incorporate those into the performance evaluation as well”

        2) there’s a piece of the review form missing, somehow OP only got the supplemental professional development pages … could be just a doc management problem, could be the manager didn’t realize that was a template, supplement used for multiple positions, and that THE MANAGER was supposed to add on to the form that’s specific to the actual position. Again, talking to other employees or the manager should clarify this. “hmm, is this document somehow missing a section? I don’t see anything that covers the core of my work responsibilities.”
        3) The company may not be filled with bees, but is bees adjacent, or at least that particular department is very buzzy. LW – proceed with caution.

    3. Leilah*

      This is a little bit how my company structures its goals – however, the minute you don’t have outside metrics at your day job you are in trouble….even though it isn’t on your goals. They just poorly communicate that meeting your daily work metrics is the baseline measure and the goals represent more aspirational extras that they feel they need to put a lot of effort into encouraging.

    4. Goddess Sekhmet*

      This actually did happen at a company where I used to work. To be fair, terrible performers didn’t get great reviews (although great extra curriculars did boost their review a bit), but average performers often got outstanding performance reviews for doing all this stuff, and making sure everyone knew about it. it was deeply flawed and caused really high attrition, including myself eventually. People just wanted to do their jobs. It didn’t seem to occur to the people who initiated this that it seriously affected performance of actual job, since people were focusing on the wrong thing. Worst of all, line managers’ hands were tied because of the way the technology worked, so we couldn’t even circumvent it for high (job) performers. It was awful.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, this kind of system will reward people that buy-in to the company culture/are fine without a work-life balance, rather than people that are just plain great at their jobs. I’ve seen this done informally- those that were friends with the manager/did the happy hours got opportunities that others didn’t. There will always be a way to downgrade poor performers, but high performers will be stuck in a middle grade limbo.

    5. AsPerElaine*

      I could believe it. I’ve had a job where if I was terrible at my job in a way that did not meaningfully cause problems for other people, I could still have gotten a good review by making my coworkers like me while not having substantive complaints about my job performance. (Reviews were entirely comments from peers — the manager was in the review meeting, but my manager, at least, never said anything beyond, “This is a really great comment” or “Don’t worry about this, they’re just pissed because they lost that big client.” My first week there, a coworker explicitly told me that part of my job was to make people like me.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        This is making me think of an infamous article a few years ago about how a large tech company (Amazon? Google?) had an issue with employees weaponizing feedback and 360 reviews. The system allowed anyone to dial someone’s extension at any time and record immediate feedback for anyone to their manager at any time. Employees organized… cliques? to coordinate feedback to sabotage rivals or people they didn’t like.

        It was supposed to provide transparency and widespread accountability among the employees but it very much did not.

    6. TechWorker*

      Is it possible that these are *OPs* development goals rather than the case for a random performance review? Eg if OP is overall doing a good job but mgr thinks to get to the next level they need to understand more industry context & develop contacts/mentoring skills…
      In that context the performance goals would really be ‘keep up what you’re doing AND do more of ‘all this stuff’’ (hopefully in work time!) vs being the only thing you’re evaluated on.

  4. 3DogNight*

    Agree with Alison on this, have a conversation about how these can be completed during work hours. Or, if your review process can be changed.
    Being asked to do things outside of work hours is a huge pet peeve for me and makes me irrationally angry. What happens after I clock out is none of my jobs business.
    If the option to change these isn’t there, I would be looking for a different role.

  5. Miss Suzie*

    No. No. And then there is NO. What I do on my own time should in no way factor into my performance review. If my employer wants me to attend webinars, and all the other items OP listed, it needs to be done on employer’s own time.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Yup, I have a career, a job, and also a life outside of those things. I don’t even like holiday parties when they’re after hours, because that is MY time. I’d be looking for a new job right quick.

    1. Twix*

      Yup. Unless you have a job where work outside the office is a clear part of the job duties, it should not be a factor in a performance review. In fields like mine (software engineering) it’s understood that engaging in professional development on your own time is necessary to stay competitive. But if failure to do so is leading to job performance issues, the performance issues are what should be addressed in a performance review.

    2. Dinwar*

      That’s not entirely true. I can think of two situations in my life where personal activities can reasonably come into play on work evaluations.

      1) My father was a volunteer fire fighter. This meant that he was occasionally up all night fighting fires, and a bit sluggish at work the following day. His boss was more than happy to ignore this, however–the boss recognized that saving lives was more important than an occasional low-productivity day.

      2) If I were to publish a research paper in my area of expertise, even if it’s based on personal research conducted outside business hours, it would be reasonable for me to mention it to my employer. After all, it has direct bearing on my job. Some fields are like this–biologists, archaeologists, geologists, and paleontologists (all of whom act as environmental compliance monitors) tend to get curious and research things whether we’re paid or not. That said, more publications makes us more marketable and makes certain things (like BLM permits) easier to obtain. Same thing with webinars–I’m attending a lecture next week because I want to, the fact that it may benefit my employer is irrelevant to whether I do it or not. I mean, it’d be better if the company paid for it, but it doesn’t always happen.

      That said, in both cases the outside-work activities shouldn’t hurt you. In the first case it explains and excuses a potential work issue–dude’s tired because he spent last night saving a family of five. In the second, it’s additional to the work requirements–not doing it won’t hurt, but doing it can help.

  6. itsame*

    Are you certain you’re supposed to be doing all these on your own time, or is it possible to use actual work hours for some/many of them? I only say this because my manager specifically encouraged me to use work hours to pursue professional development activities, but if he hadn’t made that explicit I likely would have thought I was supposed to be doing them all outside of work hours.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I often watch webinars during work hours, sometimes in the background while doing something else. I’m logging hours for my SHRM and SHRP certifications more than being expected by my direct manager, but same concept. It can happen at work.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Doing these things at work / during work hours is more the norm. It is possible that is what they mean when assigning certain things. I have several webinars assigned, but they’re only about 1 hour each, so you can do when you have slow times.

      Some exceptions might be seminars and events, which often start or happen over weekends. But then they company has usually paid to send you to those so it’s part of your job.

    3. CG*

      Yes! I was wondering this as well, because it seems like while there are evening networking activities, committee meetings, etc., at least in my field, there are also mentoring programs, seminars/webinars, professional development activities, and networking events during the day too – and it is in fact expected of me that I use some of my work hours to do things like attend seminars pertinent to my work and keep my network fresh by meeting up with partners for coffee and the like. Personally, if I saw this in my performance plan, I would first interpret it is as being about activities that they mean for us to undertake during the workday, unless I was expressly guided otherwise (or the only activity options in my field existed at night).

      1. CG*

        TL;DR for OP: you are likely basing the part of your question where you indicate that these are evening activities on information we don’t have, but if you’re assuming that this refers to evening activities without having been told that by your leadership, you may want to try reframing this as explicitly being about workday activities.

    4. RainyDay*

      This is my question. I do all of these things as part of my career development – during my work hours. Almost none of it is outside my work hours.

      Why are we assuming OP needs to do this outside regular hours?

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      Same. My performance review requires all of the professional development OP mentioned (not only those things; PD is about 20% of my evaluation) and I’m encouraged to use work hours to do all of it. I’m even allowed to flex my time if I have an evening event and come in later/leave early to compensate for it.

    6. allathian*

      Yeah, well, the personal development webinars and seminars I’ve attended in recent years have mostly been on company time, and the courses have been paid by my company.

      The big exception was a certification I took, where I was allowed to use 6 workdays during the year for seminars, but I did the exercises and attended a number of sessions for discussing the exercises in my own time, after work. I’m from an 8-4 culture, and the 5 evening sessions we had during the year were 5-8.30.

  7. River Home*

    include things like participating in a formal mentorship program, attending a certain minimum number of educational webinars and networking events, and joining committees for professional associations in my industry.

    First, that is not “mandatory fun,” as you characterize it. It’s “mandatory professional development.” Depending on your role, it’s quite reasonable.

    This question ties in pretty well with the previous question about the 9 block matrix. At many companies, senior subject matter experts are expected to take part in professional development, and one doesn’t become either senior or regarded as a SME *unless* one is doing these things. At my last company, the path to becoming a Fellow, which is a very high position on the technical ladder, was dependent on not just your work, but your mentoring and your industry leadership. Since these activities are not part of the work that keeps the lights on and the salaries paid, yes, you would have to take part during your non-work hours. It’s part of the price of seniority that goes along with working more than 40 hours in a week.

    It’s ok if you aren’t interested in either the activities or achieving greater seniority. Everyone doesn’t have to be a Fellow. You can want to be a regular Schmoe who attends the occasional brown bag lunch talk and goes home after 8 hours.

    However, it is not wrong for the company to want people with high levels of non-technical engagement, and it’s not wrong for them to give higher ratings the people who display higher levels of non-technical engagement.

    1. Bossy back from hiatus!*

      “At many companies, senior subject matter experts are expected to take part in professional development, and one doesn’t become either senior or regarded as a SME *unless* one is doing these things. “

      This was my thought too. It also occurs to me that if you’re new in the role, your manager may actually see this as a gap for you and/or see this as a more major part of your role longer term than you realize.

      Talk to her!

      1. EPLawyer*

        Should the manager have communicated that FIRST?

        It seems weird to me that OP has been handed this list of goals without seemingly any discussion or input from her. I thought goals were something you worked out with your manager in your 1:1.

        1. River Home*

          That’s a separate problem. If all the goals were technical and project based, it would still be odd that their manager just made them with no input from OP.

        2. The OTHER Other*

          I agree. It wouldn’t surprise me if the goals were generic across many employees vs: being at all tailored to individual jobs or employees. It’s another sign of bad management.

    2. idwtpaun*

      But why does “non-technical engagement” have to be equivalent to “working overtime for free”, which is what this essentially reads as to me. As soon as the company puts something on their performance rubric as a goal one is expected to meet, I consider it as part of the job. And it’s not reasonable to me for companies to dictate how I spent time they don’t pay for.

      Maybe there’s space for ambiguity here, for jobs where some amount of professional networking and development done outside of job hours is necessary for career development, but I also see a lot of presumption from the way the OP’s company has done it.

      1. River Home*

        This expectation usually goes along with salaried, exempt roles, many of which go over 40 hours/week, especially as seniority rises. It’s not working overtime for free. If you want overtime, don’t take exempt roles.

        1. Lydia*

          Considering the description of what qualifies as exempt and the floor for how much they have to pay you to meet a minimum threshold, yes, you can be working for free. It’s not as simple as “just don’t do it.”

        2. Extras and Standard*

          Technically you’re correct – salaried roles in my experience don’t pay overtime. I wish they did. But it’s also reasonable to decide a job’s expectations are more than what they’re willing to pay for and start looking to see what else is out there.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        We don’t yet know that any of this is working overtime for free. Webinars are 30-60 minutes and are typically during the workday or recorded. Joining a committee might mean getting on one zoom call every three months, or it might mean much more than that.

        But the point is the OP hasn’t talked to anyone at her job about this yet and doesn’t know what’s actually required

    3. CharlieBrown*

      However, OP writes:

      I knew from the beginning that things like professional development, networking, and community involvement were highly encouraged at this company.

      Note the word “encouraged”.

      It’s one thing to be told that an activity is encouraged and choosing not to participate (because hello? we all have lives outside of work) and being told after the fact that this is, indeed, mandatory, and you will be evaluated on this. I believe this is the source of the confusion.

      Also, it’s unfair to describe this as “mandatory professional development”. We have no idea what OP does, and whether any of this actually counts as professional development.

      1. River Home*

        “it’s unfair to describe this as ‘mandatory professional development'”

        participating in a formal mentorship program, attending a certain minimum number of educational webinars and networking events, and joining committees for professional associations in my industry.

        That’s all professional development.

      2. ?*

        But one of the three things listed is specifically “professional development.”

        I also don’t see being evaluated on something as inherently the same as it being mandatory. If I meet all my job requirements exactly, I will get a 3.0 or “meets expectations.” Scoring a 4 in any area would mean “exceeds expectations.” If I am not interested in the extra work involved, that means I will not get the highest possible score, but I also won’t be punished for it. No idea how this rubric works, but OP should ask before assuming.

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      You’re making a side point that’s mostly irrelevant to the letter though. It *is* wrong that the company appears to not even be assessing the OP’s in-office work. It *is* wrong that these expectations were not made clear in the job interview. Basically, it’s totally wrong that a new employee 6 months in is *surprised* by these expectations.

      Also, your attitude that “working your ass off for no extra money” is superior and makes everyone else a “shmoe” says you’ve really brainwashed yourself. Nicely done!

      1. River Home*

        “working your ass off for no extra money”

        If only you could see the salaries those Fellows make …

        is superior

        Where did I say it was superior? That’s an odd value judgment to place on seniority. I said it was ok NOT to want advancement and do the minimum.

        1. Lydia*

          If only you remembered that exempt positions include retail managers who don’t make anywhere near what a Fellow makes. And that not all Fellows are paid equally.

          1. TechWorker*

            How is this… relevant in any way? Retail managers are generally not expected to do a tonne of networking and mentoring in their own time?

            I see both sides here – I think professional development mentoring etc do benefit the company and thus should be considered work. But there are a tonne of roles that expect more than 40 hrs a week, that’s sort of a separate issue. If someone is working 50-60 hrs a week and earning silly money for their efforts, fair enough.

            1. Lydia*

              This particular commenter is leaning very heavily on the expectations of exempt employees, which 1. doesn’t fit all exempt employees, as you’ve neatly pointed out, and 2. is still not an excuse for unpaid labor.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          You called people who did that “regular schmoes,” which is not a term that is overladen with respectful connotations.

          1. jojo*

            I did not know that being a regular schmo was negative. In most places it is perceived as a good thing. It means you have and can hold a job. You take care of your family. Most of us are just regular schmo s. The exceptional ones are leaders. Regular schmo meets expectations. Personally. I have never wanted to lead but I am capable of stepping up if needed. And will givevit right back when need is over. I prefer to be exceptional outside of work like in my kids life

            1. linger*

              “Schmo” may denote ‘an ordinary or average person’, but that level is almost always viewed from above, so that it carries a negative connotation: a “schmo” is someone merely run-of-the-mill (in status, competence, intellect and/or appearance), rather than someone to aspire to (cf. the more positive ‘normal’).

            2. linger*

              The positive in your examples seems to be supplied by “regular”, which adds enough to cancel out the negative of “schmo”. (Cf. “a regular guy”, which carries positive connotations for social/moral behaviour: friendly, law-abiding, someone you’d have a drink with…)

      2. EPLawyer*

        Kinda where I am on this. Its why the comment rubbed me the wrong way. Just because that is the way it’s ALWAYS been done doesn’t mean its a GOOD way. Sure you want SME to you know, be experts in their subject. But the times they are a changin’. We aren’t just our jobs anymore. (nor should we ever have been). People want and NEED lives outside of work. Someone here likened it to working 2 jobs. Which is it is. That’s the way of burnout, not get getting the best person who really knows their stuff.

        1. River Home*

          In most knowledge fields, it’s hard to retain your status as a SME without continuing engagement with the field. Some fields even require formal continuing education credits to maintain necessary licensing, and that all happens outside the work day.

          What people need in terms of a life outside of work varies from person to person. Some people thrive on attending every professional society meeting they can find. For them, it’s a path to preventing burn out.

        1. Bexy Bexerson*

          Do you really think that “oh, haha I should’ve added another ‘ist’ to my comment” is an appropriate, productive, or mindful way to respond to someone who points out what they see as problematic in what you said? Perhaps you should consider that Crone has a point you might want to think about. “Regular Schmoe” rubbed me wrong for the same reasons as Crone.

      1. Heather*

        When you’re talking about what distinguishes the top 5% of a given profession from everyone else, how do you avoid being elitist? It’s just what it is.

    5. AnonInCanada*

      You’re right it’s not wrong for companies to want their employees to engage in professional development. What is wrong is that the company wants them to engage off the clock, on their own time. This tells me that the company doesn’t value me as a person, and thinks of me as another cog in the machine. Sorry. I’m not a robot. I have a life outside work. Off the clock, I disengage with anything work-related. If they want me to pursue these matters, they can pay me to do so.

      1. Clobberin' Time*

        We don’t know anything about the kind of job the OP has.

        If it’s a salaried, exempt, professional/credentialed job, then there isn’t “off the clock” or “overtime” – it’s an issue of work-life balance, not working for free.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          also, there’s always the possibility of flexing time. I’ve been an exempt employee the majority of my career. And while, sometimes, you just end up working more than 40hr/wk because of work that just has to be done on a certain timeline, often I have been able to flex my time. Come in later on a day that I’ve got evening obligations. Or take a different half day off. I’ve been in management, and I’m not getting paid for 40hrs/wk, I’m getting paid to produce a specific result — the growth and financial stability of my department. Often, this means engaging the community or stakeholders after regular business hours.

  8. Hiring Mgr*

    I agree with Alison on this one – you don’t really know enough yet and you should definitely have that conversation with the boss (and employees who have been there longer). Reading the list of things you mention, those could be minimally invasive “check the box” activities or they could wind up taking significant time..

    1. River Home*

      Yes, at companies where non-technical engagement is valued, you don’t typically have to do all the suggested activities. You can pick a couple that you like.

  9. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I second talking to your colleagues – maybe even before you talk to your manager. Alison is correct that it’s always better to arrive with solutions if you’re going to present a problem, and checking in with how others are handling this expectation might give you ideas or help you orient yourself to the issue a little better before the meeting.

  10. RJ*

    It’s more than a bit disingenuous to be a company that values work/life balance and simultaneously require that a great deal of an employee’s performance development be done off the clock. The majority of this development should be done on employer time and if that’s not the case, OP should develop the skills they want to on their own time……to get the hell out of that company. This would be a major red flag for me.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think for me it depends on how much is expected in the course of the year. Joining a committee may or may not be a big time commitment, webinars are basically nothing. I’d wonder if there are actual metrics and how imposing those actually are – or if these are just suggestions and the general goal is some level of community engagement. That may or may not be reasonable depending on the role.

  11. learnedthehardway*

    If I were presented with a review like that – with that many professional development activities expected and no real focus put on my work – I would be asking whether the company expects me to use work time for these activities. (I mean, clearly the work itself isn’t important, if I’m not being evaluated primarily on that, right?)

    1. Pants*

      Right? “You missed all your deadlines and messed everything up but you got hammered with us every single event. You receive an EXCELLENT rating!”

      1. River Home*

        Are there usually drinks at webinars and professional society meetings? Clearly, I picked the wrong field.

        It’s possible that the reason the review was so focused on professional development is that that’s where the greatest gaps in OP’s performance are. There was no need to spend much time of the project work bc OP is doing well there.

        1. Pants*

          In my previous industry (oil and gas), yeah unfortunately. I’m currently in tech but 100% remote. I can see maybe it being a thing in tech, but being remote has its perks!

          1. River Home*

            I knew a guy who used to be in oil and gas, and I hear you get good steaks, too. :)

            Defense doesn’t have quite the same $$$$.

        2. Clobberin' Time*

          You did. There are some fields where professional society meetings are famously held at resorts or destination cities precisely so that people can 1) have a good time, including drinks, and 2) write the costs of their trip off as a business expense.

          Not all, though. I’m told that certain economist professional society conventions are scheduled based on affordability, so it’s not unusual to have an annual get-together set for January in Chicago because the rates are great.

  12. It's not fun if it's forced*

    This happened to me. I’m in charge of, let’s say, managing the finances for Llamas, Inc. But the new Director thinks everyone should be involved in the entire field of all things llamas. There was a staff outing – let’s say it was related to llama grooming. I didn’t go because I was working. Also since I started, all the mandatory finance reports for the llama industry are now filed on time (they weren’t for years prior to me), etc. But in my annual review the Director went on and on and on about how I didn’t attend the llama grooming field trip. (Oh! And neither did he.) I pointed out that I actually have a degree in llama grooming, so am well versed in it, however, it doesn’t directly pertain to my professional responsibilities; and that it would be more useful for me to participate in professional development directly related to llama finance.

    I want to send him this link but it wouldn’t make any difference.

  13. Pants*

    At my last job, I hated that all the “not at all mandatory” [cough cough] were at bars and places with alcohol. I just don’t really drink that much, don’t think drinking with coworkers is a good idea, and really don’t think drinking and then driving home is a great idea.

    Do most of the activities involve alcohol, OP? If so, I’d bring that up. Be prepared, however. When I suggested alcohol-free events during work hours (because I’m not getting paid for the “not at all mandatory” happy hours), it did not go over well.

  14. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    Some of these activities can be expensive, especially the educational webinars and networking events unless your company has paid subscription to something like LinkedIn Learning, UDEMY, etc. Do they at reimburse you for the cost or expect you to pay? Also, while the community involvement or volunteering is good, at most companies a paid day or two are given to this purpose so the “company” can participate.

    I agree that choosing one or two things as a goal seems reasonable (say 1 webinar + 1 volunteer event per year), but not so many multiple things.

    1. Mockingjay*

      I think you’ve hit on something, concerning who pays for development. OP, ask about how this training is compensated. Some of the things you mentioned are very time-consuming, let alone costly. Even if you are reimbursed, it’s still a chunk of change up front.

      Current Company also encourages development and training as part of my goals, not all. But they do like people to get as many certs and initialisms as possible, even if you don’t really need it for daily tasks or your career track. They collect stats on people with X degree, Y cert, etc. to show how smart/educated/trained our workforce is. It’s a bit frustrating. I just took a course in a software application I will never use, because my project doesn’t need it (while others in the same role for different projects do).

  15. Twisted Lion*

    I worked at a place like this where “volunteering” for after work events was mandatory on our reviews and I did get marked down for only doing 3 out of 5. Which pissed me off because one of the projects was a major one that took a few months of work.

    Anyway, I did push back and imply that its not volunteering if its mandatory in order to receive an annual raise and thus I should be paid at these events and my direct supervisor reluctantly backed off. But it was a culture thing where I worked and I was glad when I left. I would push back OP. I did get my raise but my supervisor talked about it ALL the time and it got to the point where I gave in more than I wanted to.

  16. ASW*

    I have a feeling that many of these expectations are supposed to be happening during the workday. I attend a lot of webinars because I need the hours to renew my professional certifications. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live webinar that was not scheduled during normal working hours. Most (though not all) of the networking events in my field are also during work hours (usually over lunch).

    1. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Was just coming here to post this. A friend of mine was offered a tenure-track position to teach 16 credit hours a semester, promotion and tenure to be decided by grant $$$ and papers published. There was much shock and horror when he turned it down.

      1. snarkfox*

        I honestly want to be a professor more than anything in the world, as far as actually teaching in the college classroom goes.

        But when I realized exactly how much unpaid labor is expected, combined with the oversaturated market, I have put those dreams back on the shelf, at least for now.

  17. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP, I’d clarify what can be done during business hours. I bet a lot of it can be and is expected to be. When I was a leasing consultant at an apartment complex, we had similar expectations to what you’re describing. We had to attend one networking event a month as well as do community outreach marketing, and more senior employees were expected to take part in a formal mentorship program. HOWEVER, we got paid for all of it. Community outreach happened during work hours and on the clock; networking events could take place during or after work (we could choose our own) but were also on the clock; and mentoring always took place during the work day. We were also expected to take classes, but they were all offered through our company. The only unpaid thing we were encouraged to was attend the occasional after hours social event, but those were not part of the review process and I often skipped those.

  18. nerdgal*

    It seems important to me whether the OP is hourly or salaried. If hourly, hard pass on almost everything on the list. If salaried, the answer is much more nuanced. Most salaried professionals are expected to keep up with the profession and engage in networking; and with most employers, at least part of this is expected to be on the employee’s own time. I mean, it would be hard to make activities outside of the workplace mandatory, but it would also be hard to get a top performance rating without them.

    1. River Home*

      Yes, exactly. OP didn’t specify, but they said their job responsibilities are “highly technical and project-oriented.” That sounds like an exempt role.

  19. Extras and Standard*

    I have experienced this because my career is in foundations. Part of the job is to go to alllll the grantee’s activities, like their open houses, gala receptions, press events, etc etc and become known as a figure in the community. It’s tough because many of these things are outside of work and technically not part of your work itself. Ideally, the workplace should give you flexibility like if you have to attend an 8PM gala you can come in late the next day. In reality, this is rarely the case and it’s a real drawback to the profession.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Definitely a thing in foundations – they often seek out people passionate about the sector who love this aspect at first and burn them out with the sheer volume of events.

      1. Extras and Standard*

        Right. As others on the thread have commented, I think there’s a sense that these things are supposed to be “fun” so they “don’t count.” Unfortunately, it never quite feels that way for me!

        1. Appletini*

          I’m so sorry. It should absolutely be acknowledged that representing one’s workplace at a gala or press event is absolutely work, regardless of canapes or a free dinner. You have to be ‘on’ and present a certain ‘face’ at every moment. It’s not relaxing at all.

    2. BookMom*

      Definitely… when I worked in Development, my boss strongly encouraged me to join the Junior League, etc., as a job goal for the networking. I was very clear that my personal life did not make that possible. I worked really hard when I was at work, but I didn’t last in fundraising because I just couldn’t do the sort-of work-but-not-really stuff.

  20. Smitty*

    This is actually something that I’ve heard is common in one or two of the larger consultancies in Washington D.C. (and in their other offices in the United States and abroad). Where you have to attend a certain number of corporate events as a headcount is taken and you get a certain number of points towards your performance review, depending on whether or not you meet the required threshold.

    For this reason, I have not applied to work at either of these companies, but I would highly recommend talking to your network whenever possible before accepting a position. Luckily I knew a couple of people at each of these organizations and they all told me the same thing about their review structure. And I would argue that wasn’t even the most alarming thing that I heard.

    1. NeedRain47*

      Having to have a certain number of continuing education “points” (or whatever system) doesn’t sound weird or out of line… are you specifically expected to attend these things outside of work hours? Are they events that you won’t actually get any benefit out of?

      1. WellRed*

        It does not say continuing education points, though. It’s points, acquired because you showed up, toward a review. How about a review based on actual performance rather than perfect attendance?

        1. Smitty*

          Exactly. Not CPEs. It is just that say you can get a certain number of points towards your performance review for attending company happy hours and other social events. So by not attending social events, it will negatively impact your performance review.

          And these are not paid hours. Although I have only heard this as a factor for salaried employees, not hourly.

  21. AnonaLlama*

    I’m hopeful OP will learn that one of these is really the situation:
    – OP’s company does expect these activities to be done “during working hours”
    – “working hours” can/are flexible and “I have a dinner meeting with the professional llama association tonight so I won’t be in until 11am” is expected
    – this is an exempt role that’s high-level enough to have these expectations

    Else, yeah, this isn’t reasonable.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      The ironic thing about this is that if OP actually went to the networking events, they’d have a brand new set of people to clarify this with! (“Hey- do you guys get paid to come to this?”). I am nearly certain that this is a bad assumption by OP and the time at these events counts as time at work (or *could* count if coordinated in advance).

  22. Katie*

    I work for a large company that was all about ERGs and how we should participate. It was always a decent part of reviews. This would be all fine and but alas people were not supposed to be paid for the time spent in those.
    I refused to play that garbage game and only focused on stuff my people were actually paid for.

    1. Katie*

      Also to add, I may have just told my reports that if the stuff was specifically for the company then they should count it as time worked.

  23. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    Many years ago I worked somewhere that moved to a A-F rating of performance evaluations. It was made clear to us a B rating was an excellent rating, by doing their job very well. To get to the A level, you had to do something like the OP described, consistently. A one off class didn’t really count. It was basically making it impossible for most people to ever get an A rating. However thankfully their prior “exceeds expectations” merit raise was at the B level. But it was kinda of bullshit and no one in my time there ever did any of the A activities. It asked more like a way the company could say they offer higher raises, but the bar to get to that level was virtually unattainable.

    1. Quasi*

      Yeah, we have a merit-based rating system on a 1-5 scale. You get a 1% raise if you get an average of 4 or more, or a 2% raise if you score a perfect 5. Except our boss told leadership to be super picky about giving out 5s and even 4s are hard. So you can have accomplished major projects and tasks and done your job exceptionally well, but if you’re not an exceptionally well-rounded employee who consistently/always goes above and beyond on absolutely everything, you just can’t score an average of higher than a 3.8. So your whole year of working your ass off and being a great employee and accomplishing goals is reduced to a 3.8 which feels like a C+. Not sure why we even have a budget for merit-based raises when you’d either have to be not-of-this-world and superhuman to score high enough, or have no work-life balance and somehow not get burnt out, or you don’t have enough on your plate and can try to be exceptionally superb at everything somehow??? Even if it isn’t an actual job responsibility of yours?? I don’t know how they expect anyone to walk away from our review process feeling motivated and not bitter. I’m looking for other jobs now but I’ve already decided I’m going to continue being a good employee who gets things done, but don’t expect me to go above and beyond when I’m already overworked and underpaid, knowing it’s impossible to meet the standards created to get a measly merit-based raise. And I’m already at the top of what I do, and no one else can do what I do on our team (it’s a very technical role) and so it’s not even like I can get promoted. We probably don’t even actually have a budget for merit-based raises since they’ve got to realize literally no one meets their impossible expectations.

  24. HomerJaySimpson*

    If it turns out that OP is actually required to do all this on their own time without being paid, couldn’t this be in violation of labor laws it they’re not being paid for things they’re required to do?

    1. River Home*

      Depends what country they are in and whether they get overtime pay. Given the description as “highly technical and project-oriented,” if htey are in the US, they are probably exempt. So no, it would not be a violation of labor law.

    2. Moon hopping*

      I have a co-worker that started his own company with the settlement from a previous job the required joining a service club outside of work hours. So in the US this could be a fine line and depending on the state illegal. As it is on the review I would definitively look into your states laws just to be sure. Also pay type does change things.

  25. RagingADHD*

    How senior are you in the organization or the industry? Because there is a point at which you are expected to represent the company externally, as well as contribute internally.

    If these things (particularly industry committees) are part of your review, they aren’t actually professional development for you. They are business development for the company.

    Of course, if that’s the case, you ought to understand it already. I suggest you explore it with your peers very guardedly. If you’ve landed a stretch role, or wound up in an org that places more responsibility to be a “face” at your level than you are used to, it could be very detrimental to push back on it.

    You don’t want to wind up looking like you don’t understand your job, or are out if your depth.

    1. BeadsNotBees*

      This is a very wise comment. Most of the time becoming more senior in your field and/or being an SME means that you are expected to invest more time and energy in the industry and company itself. These positions usually are well-compensated and that is the trade-off for spending more than your “40 hours” on career and business development activities. This is very, very common in many industries and I don’t believe it’s unfair, I think that’s just a personal decision a lot of people have to make for themselves – i.e. understanding that if I want to continue to progress to these higher levels and be highly compensated, the company will expect more of me.

      I understand the company didn’t say they were “required” when you took the position, but they did use the words “strongly encouraged,” which to me is pretty telling. Someone who is successful in this role does these things, and while you may not be fired for not doing them, you won’t receive the top ratings in your review if you don’t.

  26. Library in the Middle*

    Are you a teacher? This is the kind of thing we are evaulated on, too. How much do we do outside of school “for the children”.

    1. Flower necklace*

      I had the same thought. As a teacher, professional development only ever gets done on my own time. In fact, literally all the teacher workdays this year have already been claimed by training.

  27. Ferret*

    This sounds like it might be very industry specific and therefore a question where checking in with peers and colleagues will be more useful to OP than the responses here.

    Quite a lot of the letter reminds me of when I was an engineer in which there was a certain amount of professional development that you were expected to do on your own time as part of professional licensing and progress towards getting chartered. This would also apply to other engineering fields and I believe lawyers/teachers/doctors and other licensed professions can also have quite similar requirements sometimes

  28. El+l*

    Yeah, say what you will about networking and professional development. That said:

    There’s a difference between “encouraged” and “mandatory.”

    And there’s a further difference between “mandatory” and “mandatory off the clock.” With extra sauce because it appears to be so big in your review.

    Proceed as Alison suggests. At the very least, given the push to do all this, push back to ensure you get paid time to do this.

  29. Professions aren’t just jobs*

    I think it really matters what the job is. I’m a professional – as in, a member of a regulated profession. In addition to my continuing professional education requirements, I have mandatory professional development activities to maintain my licensure, many of which do include things like committee work or activities that benefit the public, because activities that support the profession, or that promote public trust, are a shared responsibility for all members of the profession.

    If by “professional associations” the LW means “organizations that function to promote the interests of the industry,” that’s one thing and I think Alison’s advice applies. If the LW is actually a member of a profession, then yes, they should expect that there’s going to be a certain amount of work that extends beyond paid time because that comes with the territory.

  30. KatieP*

    This is potentially discriminatory in its effects. Just off the top of my head, anyone who is a caregiver (disproportionately female demographic) or has chronic medical issues (ADA, anyone?) is going to be put at a disadvantage against younger, able-bodied men.

  31. Nancy*

    Have you looked to see when these are held? Asked coworkers how often they participate in them? What field are you in? I do many of the things you list. They are usually held during work hours and it are considered part of my job, because they are expected in my field.

  32. Guacamole Bob*

    How common is it for employees to have their goals basically assigned like this? OP writes as if she was handed a form with her annual goals already on it and had no opportunity to change them. My experience is that there’s a bit more discussion or back-and-forth around goal setting, especially around these sorts of professional development things.

    I ask my team members to suggest their own goals for that section of the form we’re required to use. That section can be filled out in any number of ways with training, industry involvement, skill development, internal involvement like employee resource groups, arranging interdepartmental activities, etc. In our agency’s culture it would be super weird for me to just assign that stuff without any discussion at all!

    Is my agency unusual here?

    1. Me ... Just Me*

      With new hires, I imagine that there are set goals and expectations that are outlined from the get-go, with the how/when actually being at the discretion of the new employee. It’s always nice as a new employee to know what is expected of you.

  33. Qwerty*

    My bet is there was a miscommunication somewhere. Formal professional goals are generally something agreed to between manager/employee. If you did agree to them (due to being surprised in the moment), then go back to your manager and tell her that you’ve realized that the goals combined add up to being a significant time commitiment of out-of-work hours. If you found the goals on the form for the first time, then ask for an overview of how performance is measured at the company – maybe they sent you a generic template of “possible” goals, or tried signing you up for everything as a way of showing you what resources were available, etc. Or like other people said, this is stuff that you can do during work time and they want you to spend your first year there getting really involved in the community.

    An old company of mine had to change our performance review template because the sample version sounded a lot like this, where the sample had concrete goals of ambitous professional development and then people would download and start using the form without changing the sample goals. We changed to be more bland and generic – think “Attend X webinars on Y topic” so that it was obvious that the form was incomplete. (Employees wrote the first version of the review form at that place, so managers caught on pretty quickly when everyone was suggesting the same goals for the year)

  34. Dawn*

    I once worked in an extremely toxic office (the company has long since closed) where your raises were based on your performance reviews and the monthly performance reviews had a requirement that you make at least two charitable donations or participate in at least two charitable events (think Habitat For Humanity) every month. Our pay was also garbage, most people were living paycheque to paycheque, hours were rarely guaranteed, and benefits were rare.

    The takeaway from all of this is that the company was more concerned with making themselves look good (the office was plastered with news articles praising the company’s charitable endeavours) and heading off legitimate criticisms of the company than actually treating their workers well.

    Given that history, I’d take a very hard look at how the company is actually treating employees after seeing this review form.

  35. Unchurched Heathen*

    Thirty years ago when I began my career as a public librarian the ONLY way to get top ratings and promotions were to do all those things on your own time and money. I was specifically told to use my own time (vacation time) to take coursework that was essential for my work (still resentful about that) go to national conferences, do committee work etc etc etc.
    When I became an academic on tenure track these demands increased AND I was expected to write and be published without ANY monetary benefit.(and on my own time) And join organizations that had costly annual dues and although I no longer had to do travel and professional development and service on my own time, all prep for presentations, research and writing was in evenings and weekends as was committee work.
    I am at the top of my profession, tenured and full, and do not regret the time I spent on these things but…
    When people ask “how did you do it?” the answer is not a good one- my job was my life, I am fortunate that my avocation is also my vocation.”
    And… I have no kids.”
    As a supervisor, I insist that all work, all professional development, all committee work is during work hours. I insist if you volunteered to work off site on a Saturday, you schedule a comp. day during the week. If the PD is work related, I find the money to pay for it and give the time. If you worked an evening event, you come in late the next day or take comp time some time else.
    I now recognize now how inequitable this way of evaluating work is and do not support this system.
    I lead by example now- I review CV’s for promotion and hire during work now- not at home. I take comp time.
    I rarely volunteer to cover for someone else. That ship has sailed.

    1. KatieP*

      Academia staff member, here. I’ve been told that all those, “outside of work,” commitments that TT (tenured/tenure-track) faculty engage in is why they get the, “big bucks.”

      I’d like to know why we can’t give TT faculty better work-life balance, and share some of that salary budget with the three Admins squeaking by on $38K per year.

  36. ICompletelyUnderstand*

    Ugh I totally get this.

    I am a top performer in my office and geographic region. In this financial years evaluations, looks like I had competition from another office.
    looks like most of the things stacked out between them and me but they had 18 hours of volunteering instead of me having just about 6 hours of tracked volunteering time through office portal.
    Had no idea that this is something that was being used for evaluating performance for the year.
    My office is fighting with the other office ( the other office is the geographic location headquarters) so it seems to be in vain.

    I can prove my volunteering time outside of work was much more than 18 hours over the year but am not going to add this attribute to the evaluations, which have no relation at all, written or verbal anywhere. Have made up my mind that I am not getting the monetary award but I empathize with you OP.

  37. blood orange*

    This really sounds as though your company has one performance evaluation template that they apply to all roles, maybe even with slight variations. That’s much too generic to be effective, and they may not be thinking through that. That’s like giving the same performance evaluation to a web developer, a project manager, and a sales representative. Your eval sounds like it’s geared towards a role similar to the latter, which has vastly different job duties than the other roles. Definitely flag it in the way Alison suggests!

  38. rubble*

    I almost wonder if this form is just being used to collect information about what you do outside of work within your industry, because they think they already have all the information they need about your work performance?

    alison addressed this as if you have filled in a form in preparation for an in-person performance review, but is that actually what’s happened? to me this question read like the company only does performance reviews on paper, and OP has found the template for this on the company intranet.

  39. CM*

    I may be an outlier here, but I’d just complete the activities during the work day as much as possible, and I wouldn’t seek clarification or feel guilty about it. Go to an occasional off-hours event, but for webinars, etc., do them during the work day and don’t ask for permission. They are work activities. They’re on your performance review. Your employer has explicitly asked you to do them. There should be no reason you need permission to do them during work.

  40. jojo*

    I did not know that being a regular schmo was negative. In most places it is perceived as a good thing. It means you have and can hold a job. You take care of your family. Most of us are just regular schmo s. The exceptional ones are leaders. Regular schmo meets expectations. Personally. I have never wanted to lead but I am capable of stepping up if needed. And will givevit right back when need is over. I prefer to be exceptional outside of work like in my kids life

  41. Sequoia*

    I’m a tiny bit afraid this might be written by someone on my team ;-)

    Definitely ask for clarification. When I write into reviews that folks should represent our company in professional organizations I expect them to do it on “company/paid time” even if that means shifting hours or time off in lieu later. Mentoring is an expectation for nearly everyone I manage and it should be happening during core business hours as well. Attending events is a key part of our jobs, but that doesn’t always seem to land during the interview process no matter how many times I say it.

    Most folks who come into my team haven’t done a role like this before. They’re used to project based work with clear outcomes, working from a ticket queue, or something similar. Our role is specifically about community outreach and the idea that “chat with some folks and make friends” is the actual job takes a while for many to adjust to.

    If your role isn’t outreach or community oriented, ask why this is what’s in your goals/review sheet. Maybe your review is stretch goals or things your manager thinks you need to do to advance at this new company. I’ve seen weirder things.

  42. MCMonkeyBean*

    I would definitely have a formal conversation with my boss for clarification and some informal conversations with coworkers, but I want to note one other thing I have done recently that helped me tremendously to be happier at work: I decided to basically stop caring about my review.

    My company does scores of 1-5 and almost everyone gets 3s. You have to be really bad to get a 2, an exceptional year might get you a 4, and 5s are almost unheard of. I actually got a 4 my first year because I was right out of school and apparently significantly exceeded their expectations and then it was all 3s after that. One year, I learned that they actually limit how many 4s the managers are *allowed* to give. I worked really hard on a big project with a lot of visibility and was basically told “this was your best year ever, but it was also a lot of other people’s best years ever so we can only give you a 3 again.”

    I actually left the company shortly after that, and at my next company I learned they also basically do reviews on a curve so I guess it’s not uncommon. At that point I decided to not care about them. I still do my job well and I know that my boss is overall happy with my work and I expect I will continue receiving 3s on my annual reviews. I will not however be going above and beyond to join committees and all that extra stuff and if they wish that I would, well that’s too bad for them I’m going to go enjoy my life outside of work instead :D

    All that is just to say the options are not just 1) the form is misleading and that’s not really expected or 2) find a new job if you don’t want to do all that. There is also option 3, to just do the amount you would be comfortable doing and then be okay with the fact that it might impact your review. If you like everything else about the job and the company, personally that’s what I would probably do.

  43. Ditto*

    If you are an attorney or associate at a law firm, all of this is expected as a way to contribute to the profession and build your (and therefore the firm’s) book of business.

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