Friday, April 11, 2008

Half of doing well at work is knowing when to stick up for what you know is right – and I’m not talking about social justice or anything, I’m talking about tiny design issues and turns of phrase and shit like that – and knowing when to let it go lest you be seen as argumentative and defensive. It’s too bad I was hired right before annual reviews are happening, because I get to skip it this year, and right now everyone’s all impressed and happy with me. A year from now, the bloom will be off the rose, and my review will be full of things like “After a strong start, Debbie grew resistant to change” and “Debbie was eager to learn everything, at first, but we soon noticed that nothing we were attempting to teach her was really sticking.” [Note; nothing like those two phrases have actually appeared in any of my performance reviews.]

Also, apparently my company has switched from a three-step grading system for our reviews (1. You're doing exceptionally well; 2. You're doing an o.k. job; 3. Maybe this job isn't right for you) to a five-step one. Which at first sounded great to all of us, because then we get two whole new shades of gray to fall into. But then the managers were told that there were quotas. And now, out of the entire office of 60 or so people, we're only allowed one or two "1" ratings, and just a few more "2"s, making it pretty much the same kind of deal as before, with the vast majority of us being called Average. Never mind that more than a few of us go "above and beyond" in our jobs, the managers have to grade us all on a curve. It's very discouraging, and the managers are pissed off and dreading doing this. Yet another downside to working in Ginormous MegaCorp. The bureaucracy involved makes me more anarchist by the day.


Avani said...

The optimist (and marketer) has to comment that you have a few things going for you:

1. You have a job.
2. People have very short term memories. Al you have to do between now and next year is kick ass and talk about it for 3 months before your review next year.
3. When standing firm to your design beliefs, say things like "I really believe this is right for the magazine and for D_____." People will respect you for your expert opinion. The fact is you have a lot of experience and you were hired for that. Rock it.

Anandi said...

Interesting post. If you hadn't mentioned your office having 60 ppl, I would have thought you worked at the same Ginormous MegaCorp I used to :)

Grading on a curve is done so they can make the budgeting process for raises and promotions easier. It's definitely not for the employees' benefit.

Avani is right - they definitely have a short term memory so focus on your work most a couple of months before review.

And definitely couch your opinions/feedback in what's best for the company/customers. Don't make it sound like you just want to be right, but that you truly believe it's the right thing for the customers and WHY. If you can back it up, people won't think you are resistant to change, or hearing other ideas, etc.

Hmm, this ended up being longer than expected. :) I originally came here from the Blogher network because I thought it was funny that your post was underneath one that said "This Bud's For You". I thought it was all one post until I clicked the link!