Why We Dread Job Reviews

A few years ago I was in a supervisory position and had the responsibility of conducting employee evaluations for several staff members. Perhaps this group of women was the exception, but I had never seen people become so stressed out over a very straight-forward, short, and relatively harmless process that usually ended in some kind of raise thanks to the system that was put in place by our director. I thought I had accessed each employee very fairly, even generous in some areas, so it surprised me when I received a notice in my mailbox that one of my employees was formally protesting her review. While her review was not glowing, it was not terrible either. I had identified very specific areas of improvement that were simple in my mind and wouldn’t be an issue beyond our initial discussion. Well, 4 months and 5 facilitated meetings later, my assessment of her performance stood and she was an unhappy camper. I was bewildered. Not so much by the protesting process, but the shear denial of her own actions despite numerous examples and documentation. Even when the facilitator looked her in the eyes, with email in hand, and asked her point-blank if she had turned in this assignment late, she insisted that in fact it was on time. The time stamp was 11:30p.m.  Wow. I suddenly realized the extent of the dishonesty with herself, and in turn, how it prevented her from ever making improvement. I think there is a saying about how you can’t solve a problem until you know that one exists?

I bring this up because yesterday before my part-time shift ended at BR, my manager called me in to conduct my performance evaluation. Part of me was laughing because I have never worked at BR long enough to get an evaluation, and the other part was secretly happy to have one so I could step off the sales floor and have my manager tell me (or my ego rather) how good I was doing. We started out with the rankings of core skills and I consistently “met expectations” across the board. Okay that was good to know. Then we moved on to various aspects of meeting monthly goals of BR cards, sales per hour, etc. and my manager said, “Aimee, when you’re on, you’re ON. And when you’re off, that’s it. We would look for more consistency in the future.” In my head I found myself saying, you and me both!…who would have thought that a job review, at a place where I didn’t care much for beyond the discount, would be so reflective of my past year living in this new space?? As he continued, I was lost in my own thoughts as I recounted those awesome days when I was “on:” I had probably worked out that morning or did something positive for myself before getting ready for work, I had gotten a good night’s sleep, T was probably in a good place too, we were feeling settled, and it all translated into a positive attitude and great day at work. On the flip side, on the days when I was “off,” it totally sucked: I had probably slept poorly the night before due to over thinking on some other issue, I was down on myself for not having found a real job, T and I may have had an upsetting therapy session, we were on separate pages about something, you get the idea. This translated into a craptastic day of course when I didn’t want to talk to anyone, much less exert any energy on a job that had no meaning to me. On one hand I applaud myself for not pretending to be any other way except how I was on those days, yet I also yearn for that consistency in my life of positive, awesome days.

At the end of our discussion my manager asked me if I had any questions or concerns and I said no; I 100% agreed with his evaluation. I signed the paper and left, but when I got home I started thinking about the last critical step of any evaluation which is goal setting for the future. If I were to plan goals for my future, with the intent of being more consistent, they would include the following:

1. To treat myself and the people who I love in my life with respect.
2. To invest wholly into ways of fulfillment and maintenance of my well-being through meditation, diet, and exercise.
3. To thoroughly question and examine a situation that “scares” me until it is no longer scary, just unfamiliar.

Until next year’s performance evaluation…

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