As the financial year ends, I'm finding that the usually serene progress of my working day (**ahem**) is being somewhat interrupted by the sour inevitability of year-end performance reviews. A particular favourite of mine is the 'consistency forum', where the senior people in my department try to objectively compare the populations of each grade to decide who has exceeded expectations, who has met expectations and who has fallen short, based upon a combination of what people have achieved over the year and their "behaviours".
Yeah, I know.... behaviours.... Unfortunately, the outcome of this forum is important because it determines the size of any pay rise or slice of bonus that we get, not to mention any chances of advancement. Objectivity is, of course, impossible. I'm not even sure they really even aim for it, to be honest, as each manager tries to get their own people into the top right hand "exceed" box at the expense of everyone else.
When it comes to the "behaviours" score, in particular, perception is king. Your customers might all think that you are the best thing since sliced bread, but that's not as important as the impression you've made on the colleagues who are judging you. You are supposedly only being ranked on your performance in the last twelve months, but in practice, this is cobblers: there's no time limit on the judgement these people have made on you and there's certainly no objective measure of any change.
Take me as an example: coming out of my consistency forum this week, I was told that although my behaviours had improved markedly over the last six months, I was still scoring slightly lower there because of the months before that.
Um. But I've only been back at work for six months after taking most of last year off. So, what am I being judged on, exactly?
I actually did quite well in my forum, and yet they've still managed to find a way to piss me off. I well understand that, over the years, I've probably more than earned the perception that people have of me, and I'm sure my boss went in to bat for me. What annoys me is not so much that people haven't bothered to look closely enough to revise their opinions - that's a fact of life - but rather that I am being judged by those opinions. I suppose that's a fact of life too, eh?
One other piece of feedback I got out of my consistency forum was that I am apparently "intellectually intimidating". I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with that, to be honest. Is that something I should be actioning?
Is it even a criticism?
15 hours ago