Note: None of this is related to my current employer where everything is sunshine, roses, rainbows, Prozac, and unicorns. I’m just offering perspective about organizations as a whole and my disdain for annual performance reviews in general. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
To say I loathe the annual performance review process used by most organizations would be a gross understatement. Personally, I don’t like to talk about my career choices or reflect on my last year, even if that year was outstanding. My “career” (and I use that word loosely) is my business. I have an Evil Plan and I’m not inclined to share it. Last year I critiqued the infamous bell curve The Dreaded Performance Review Season
Reviews have a sense of hopelessness about them. They force you to take stock of the last 12 months and to obtain feedback on the last four weeks (which is usually the basis of the core of your rating). In some organizations reviews are a burdensome administrative task that can fail to accomplish the intended goal of improving performance. Instead they become exercises in statistic mathematics (fitting people to a bell curve) and focusing on the three things that an employee did wrong in a year, rather than the 300 things they did well. I have yet to emerge from a review energized, inspired, and enthusiastic – and I get good ratings over the years.
So I started thinking about ways to make the process go by faster. (Hey, if it can’t be motivating, at least we can get it over with – right?) I thought a multiple choice/survey format that the employee could check off would expedite things in the discussion. Now, I’m still tweaking this prototype – but I thought you’d enjoy my current working copy. Feel free to share.
Annual Review Multiple Choice
Where do you see yourself in five years?
___Prison – for that whole, “Lone sniper on the roof of his place of employment” incident I’ve been covertly planning.
___Getting my hands on some fissionable material to finish a DYI project I have going in my basement.
___Wearing a “special” white coat with long sleeves that lace together in the back.
___Kicking back and retired on the income from my Nigerian Prince scam.
___Still waiting for Skype to connect my call from earlier today.
___Waiting in line for Star Wars XVI – The Last Sith
___Still searching for my long lost marbles.
___Trying to explain to my family why I wasn’t with them because I needed this job to pay the damned bills.
___In a shack in the forest, writing that manifesto I have been meaning to get to.
___In line at CVS to up my antidepressants.
___I see myself in a room, doing an annual review, making up another bullshit answer so that I can end this ordeal.
What are your career goals?
___Making sure someone else is framed for the crime or at least the guilty parties are identified.
___I’d like to be CEO. Can you help make that happen? If not, leave me alone.
___I’d settle for some cheesy title if you can’t actually promote me. I’m quite fond of the title “Emperor” but you can call me ‘Sire.”
___To make the voices in my head go away or at least get down to a reasonable number.
___Four words: Hand of the King.
___What is this “career” thing you are referring to?
___I am counting on the lottery or getting my own reality TV series about a guy working in a dysfunctional office.
___I don’t suppose “survival” is an option? If so, I choose it.
How well do you work with your peers/colleagues?
___The fact they are still alive should tell you something.
___I like them. When we are on a call together they make me look like the smartest person in the meeting.
___I strongly believe at least one of them will be featured on the news with one of their neighbors saying, “He was quiet – a loner…he seemed normal to me.”
___They are the best trained group of clowns to ever emerge from the same tiny car.
___Most seem stressed – but then again, underachievers usually are.
___Without them you wouldn’t need me. (Think about it – you’ll eventually get it)
___I think enough of them to secretly post their resume’s on several leading job recruitment sites.
What do you think of your teammates?
___You will never meet a finer group of team members – outside of a prison basketball court.
___Great group of people…the kind you of team you see in Goodfellas or The Godfather.
___They can be counted on – for lunch and for making most of my meetings pointless.
___We are unified and cohesive on one thing, a common enemy, our manager. Oops! Awkward…
___They can be consistently relied upon, to shuffle their workload to me.
___You will not meet a finer group of people outside of a chain gang.
___What I think my teammates says less about them and more about you and your interviewing standards and approaches.
___I hope at least two of them marry Cersi Lannister.
What kind of experiences can we give you to help your stretch and advance your career aspirations?
___Put my on a project that was not hopelessly doomed, horribly sponsored, technically impossible, or led by an escaped lunatic.
___How about putting me in charge of the whole shooting match? I figure it will take three weeks…four tops, to straighten this all out.
___Please stop trying to help me by giving me more work. If you stretch me more, I may snap.
___Something that is near completion, competently run, that I can claim credit for “leading.”
___I’ve been working with all of the responsibility and none of the power – how about we flip that for next year?
___Preferably something that requires travel to Hawaii, Europe, of Polynesia.
___I have been a patient in this asylum long enough, I’d like to be a guard for a while.
___None. I just watch you as my manager and mentally note to do the opposite of what you do.
How do you feel about the feedback you received this year from your peers?
___I got feedback? I thought we were still on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?”
___Apparently the bribe money was well spent.
___I’m sorry, we were supposed to read that before the review session? I assure you I give that feedback all of the attention it is due.
___It is good to know that the people that gave me feedback are taking medication and drinking still.
___Those negative comments are totally deserved. I was being a dick and want to assure you I will be a dick again in the future.
___There would have been more positive feedback if the system had allowed people to submit what they wrote in crayon.
___My response to the feedback begins with, “Those assholes started it!” It goes downhill from there.
___I think the constructive (negative) feedback I received was because those people couldn’t find their ass with a flashlight and both hands.
___I am ashamed that these people who gave me feedback have that kind of time on their hands. Makes you wonder about them, doesn’t it?
What kind of learning should we put in your annual plan?
___I was thinking of taking the Web Based Learning course, “Giving a damn – you can do it!”
___I don’t suppose I can convince you that basket-weaving is related to my job?
___Why bother, you will never give me the time to attend the course anyway?
___I believe a course in advanced cursing would be in order.
___I’ve tracked down an industry tradeshow for a week in Vegas. Send me and I promise to make an effort to attend one of the sessions.
___Using Advanced PowerPoint Techniques, Graphics and Animations to Bedazzle Leaders 101
___Is there anything we have on substance abuse – a “how-to” kind of class?
___Really? You’re going to give me the time to go to learning or the money to travel to it? Don’t make me laugh.
___I don’t know – what did you take to get your job? I’m sure only a short course will suffice to fill that gap.
What could you have done to have been more successful last year?
___”More successful?” It sounds like you aren’t thankful for what you got there buddy. You might want to work on that.
___Less leadership “support” and more common sense would have helped.
___While a bonus will not make me more successful, it can’t hurt matters.
___Suppressed my sense of humor and my snarky remarks during meetings.
___How about the ability to pick and choose the work I am assigned?
___I could have constructed a functional time machine to reverse your bad decisions.
___I have everything I need to be successful, at another company. Thanks.
What can I do to make your job easier?
___Nothing. Just keep those checks coming.
___Please, sweet Jesus, stop trying to help me.
___A limit of three random/psychotic changes of direction per month would be great.
___Have you considered an extended vacation or taking a sabbatical? I recommend it.
___I have a list of people who need to “disappear,” if you catch my drift. (Wink, wink)
___You can stop assigning me the workload of three full time staff.
___Before you make up deadlines, could you please purchase a calendar?
___Please have your boss remove their head from their ass.
What kind of feedback to you have for me as your manager?
___Keep on going – oblivious seems to work for you as well as me.
___I am impressed with you – well, that you find the office daily. That I’m impressed with.
___What you don’t know won’t hurt you.
___Whatever you do, don’t look in the box under my desk.
___It’s adorable that you pretend to care.
___I don’t supposed you’d be willing to take a job with our competitors?
___You are PURE. A Previously Undetected Recruiting Error.
___You don’t have stress but you ARE a carrier.
___I’m sorry, do I work for you?
___Like you care…
I think my multiple-choice approach streamlines the process – don’t you agree?
Hey, I wrote a pretty good book on cynicism at the office – Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords It is chocked full of bitterness about work…and extra vitamin goodness.