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My first performance review

Posted by Vivian Wong on August 27, 2008


The very first performance review I received was when I worked as a consultant for a small software house in Sydney.Before the performance review, I actually really enjoyed my job. My boss appreciated all the extra efforts we put into our work to get our customers live. He cared and we responded by working extra hard.

Life is full of surprises though.

One day the owner of the company flew in from Perth (Western Australia) completely unannounced and fired our boss that same day. A couple of days later, the CEO sat me down and presented me with the performance review document that HR has put together. He told me that I met their expectations and the company appreciates my work. All was good – right?

Well – not exactly.

I walked away from the performance review feeling confused and disappointed- and it wasn’t just from learning that my boss got fired from a couple of days ago. What bothered me was the CEO’s body language during the performance review. He seemed uninterested and disengaged. He casually flipped the review document back and forth (so I wondered if he had read it before he came into the meeting.) He also seemed to have ants in his pants and checked his watch frequently. So while he read my performance document to me, I stared at the conference table for the most part – trying to hide my disappointment. Although the feedback was “nice”, he came across as “bored” and “insincere”. There were no specific examples of why he thought I did well nor was there any suggestions on how I could be more than just “meet expectations”. (If I was getting ready for retirement, I probably wouldn’t have cared. But I was young, energetic and really wanted to know what I can do to be a better consultant.) With my 20/20 hind sight, I should have asked. To this date, I still remember how shiny the conference table was and the question I kept on asking myself “is this the company I still want to work for?”

The good thing is that I learned how NOT to deliver a performance review.🙂

4 Responses to “My first performance review”

  1. Vivian –
    Sad but all too common. We can learn a lot from our managers on how not to lead.
    It could have been a lot worse – here’s more on “how to screw up a performance appraisal”:
    http://greatleadershipbydan.blogspot.com/2008/01/10-ways-to-screw-up-performance.html

  2. Kathi Chenoweth said

    I think it’s true that we learn more from bad managers than good ones. Which means that none of us here in TalentedApps are learning very much of anything.😀 Thank goodness for blogs.

    Great post, Vivian and glad you joined us here.

    Oh, almost forgot. Here is my “suggestion for growth” Make your font bigger. Those of us who are almost ready to retire will appreciate it.😉

  3. Meg Bear said

    Excellent point Vivian, especially about non-verbal communication. I recently was reminded that it is what we say with our body language that often betrays our words. I also had to fly in once to lay someone off, not a great experience. I bet that boss was feeling badly about day as well.

  4. alantru said

    Today I had my first Performance Review with my boss, Clark.

    The word “performance” is entirely appropriate because Clark has to pretend he’s interested and I have to act like I care.

    It was possibly the most painful 10 minutes I’ve experienced here.

    Yeah, that’s right, 10 minutes.

    And that included Clark spending 5 minutes trying to locate the paperwork and making uncomfortable small talk. Clearly this isn’t one of his favourite things.

    From Clark’s perspective, I am a very “satisfactory” employee…

    I have “satisfactory” attendance, “satisfactory” performance and “satisfactory” work habits.

    I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m satisfied with that.

    I didn’t take it personally, either… Especially since Clark had to keep peeking at his files to remember my name.

    After the review came the even more painful part: Clark asked me about my “goals” and where I “want to be in 5 years.”

    I was tempted to be honest and tell him that my goal was to ride out the recession and then look for meaningful employment. Or maybe buy a boat.

    But that would’ve been awkward. And it doesn’t look good on the forms

    So instead, I made some comments about moving up over time, gaining more experience, taking some business courses and basically committing my every waking moment to the service of Hamish Industries.

    He looked relieved. Apparently that answer was fine.

    In fact, it was entirely satisfactory.

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