Performance review

In half an hour, it'll be time for my annual performance review at work. Yup, I'm writing this on company time, and in 29 minutes, I'll step into the boss's office for the annual sit-down. I've had performance reviews many times with many bosses at many jobs, and it's always weird and uncomfortable, but this will be my first performance review with my new boss.

I know what to expect, though. The boss will say, "You're punctual. You don't make a lot of expensive mistakes. You handle assignments OK. You have decent hygiene and don't stink up the place. Blah blah blah." Performance reviews always start with the positives.

And then come the negatives. Since the company doesn't want to give anyone much of a raise, the boss will invent a "needs improvement." I never know what they'll come up with, but it always means my raise will be 15¢ an hour instead of 25¢.

Last year it was, "We've noticed that when the phone rings, you'll often let others answer it." Well, yeah, that's because last year I was still new on the job and didn't much know the answers, and because when the phone rings it's always someone who's angry, and also because I frickin' hate talking on the phone. But, point taken. Now I answer the phone more often, so what will be this year's "needs improvement" from this year's boss, to keep this year's raise paltry?

It might be that I don't ask Jennifer many questions. She's my team lead, but she's not the best at answering questions clearly, so instead I usually ask Louie. They could ding me for that.

It might be my 'attitude'. We had a big multi-department meeting a few months ago, where some bigwig stood up and explained some stupid new policy. I sat way in the back and rolled my eyes and made faces until I thought or maybe imagined my boss was glaring at me.

It might be that I leave early sometimes. I'm supposed to work until 5:00, but the boss is usually nowhere to be seen, and Jennifer leaves at 3:30, so sometimes I sneak out before quitting time. I live really close, easy walking distance, so I can come back 45 minutes later to punch out, or a few times I've asked Louie to punch out for me (which is just returning the favor, since I've done that for him). I wouldn't leave early, though, unless I was sure I could get away with it, and I've been doing it once or twice a month and getting away with it just fine.

Those are my big three possibilities for "needs improvement." Can't think of anything else for the boss to rag at me over, but we'll see. We'll see in two minutes now.

♦ ♦ ♦

Well, here's my annual performance review, and the positives were exactly as expected: Doug is a productive worker who follows procedures. Good dog, have a biscuit.

So what's my shortcoming, to keep my biscuits small and few? You're too quiet. Try to participate more, speak up in meetings, and join the chatter of camaraderie on the work floor. Also, we've noticed that you don't come to the after-hours Yahtzee nights, and the company picnic.

Yeah, I've heard that one in performance reviews a few times before. The first time a boss told me that, I nodded and said I'd try, and maybe I tried. It's been a long time. I don't remember.

The second time, I just grunted and sighed.

Today, a few years older and wiser and knowing what I'm supposed to say, I again said I'd try. But I won't try.

I make a reasonable effort to do the job reasonably well. I already speak up when there's a work-related issue and saying something might help, but that's rare because I know management isn't listening.

I won't be participating more than I feel comfortable, won't speak up in meetings unless I have something to add, and I won't feign interest in the inane chatter that never ends. I hope the company bowling team wins but I won't be there, won't bowl, and won't cheer from the sidelines. If you need me, I'll be at my desk from 8:30 to 5:00, unless I sneak out early.

From Pathetic Life #2
Thursday, July 21, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.



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