I had my performance review at work the other day. It wasn't the big review that we get at the end of the financial year, but a smaller interim one to cover the first six months of the year and to let me know how I have been getting on. Like most people, I don't take these things terribly seriously. In fact, I only sat down with my boss to write the performance contract I was reviewed against about 3 weeks before the actual review, for heaven's sake. I suppose I would care more if I felt that I had any great influence over the score that I get, but this is controlled more by quotas than by individual performance, so I satisfy myself with trying to do the best that I can. Doing the job. That's the really important thing, right?
Hmm. Perhaps this defeatist attitude is the reason why my career has only reached the dizzy lowlands it currently occupies.
In the session, I discovered that I now get scored slightly differently. "Delivery" is now only one part of my performance measure. If I only exceed in "delivery", then apparently I will only be doing half a job. What other measure can be as important as delivery then? Why, "Behaviours", of course.
I suppose that would be reasonable enough, if the "behaviours" in question were the ones I used with my customers to support my "delivery"... but no.... the way I behave with my customers has got nothing to do with it. Those "behaviours" are part of my "delivery". These other "behaviours" are a measure of how much I conform to the "culture" and "people charter" of my department (both of which are new inventions) and how much I adhere to the department's "process" (which is both insanely complicated and largely pointless).
The second I heard this, I knew I was likely to be in for a rough ride. I work really hard to try and make sure that I support my customers. A rather large part of that work involves me trying to protect them from the needless complication and confusion that my department tries to foist on them as it struggles to operate in a difficult outsourced environment that we keep making more and more complex. I know it's a horrible job to come up with a perfect process, and I try to follow this one as best I can, but with the best will in the world, I reckon it's actually now impossible to make head or tail of any of the detail of it. You simply cannot explain it to anyone. It just can't be done. Dilbert and David Brent have got nothing on my lot. We have endless briefings where this already convoluted process is made yet more labyrinthine in an attempt to "clarify" and to "simplify". I tell you, if Sisyphus worked in our department, not only would his boulder be made bigger every time he tried to push it up the hill, but it would also be gradually "improved" into a less rollable shape, and the hill would be gradually made steeper and bumpier. Eventually he would be trying to push a giant cube up a greased right angle.
It's utter rubbish, and the people responsible for it should be shot.... well, perhaps that's a bit strong.... but they certainly keep on trying to vigorously polish that turd and they sure seem to be enjoying themselves.
My problem is that I tend to point this out whenever we have these endless bloody meetings to try and work out what's going wrong and how we can move forwards. I can't help it. I have an analytical mind, and although I know I would be better just shrugging my shoulders and ignoring the whole steaming pile of shit, I can't. I want to understand why someone thinks this is a good idea and why they think this is beneficial for the business. Unfortunately, the more questions I ask, the more people think I'm attacking them for being ignorant tossers. That may be true, but it's not my intention: I genuinely do want to understand and to see what they are trying to do.
So when my boss told me that this was a key measure of my performance, I asked him if I was being assessed on my behaviour with my customers, or my behaviour with my colleagues. He smiled and asked me who I thought had done the scoring.
Shit. My colleagues. The ones who think I think they're fools (incidentally, a big hello to any of them who happen to be reading this!)
Behaviours like these are important to some extent - I don't have any argument about that. But are they really equally as important as what we deliver? Really? a 50:50 split?
I like my boss, and I think that -- although he's far too professional to say so -- he is sympathetic towards my views. So I asked him which me he would prefer: the employee who was really good with his customers and had a good record of delivery and good feedback, or the one who was not so good at that, but said all the right things in team meetings. Not surprisingly, although he smiled suggestively, he simply said that he wanted a combination of the two. Fair enough.
My overall score was okay, but my "behaviours" were right down near the "fall short" mark. I've got six months to learn how to bite my tongue to get a better performance grade at the end of the year.
How do you rate my chances?