“Can you please close the door?”
I take a seat and wait patiently as McMahon, (my current supervisor) begins: “Well, it’s time for another performance review, let’s go ahead and get started.”
Performance reviews are a system at DOPI and most other government agencies, purportedly for the purpose of monitoring progress and sticking with the plan. Although, for GS-5s like myself, there is no ‘progress’ to track since moving administrative positions forward is about as rare as an Axl Rose sighting.
Performance review meetings are a time for the boss to say the things that he’s been holding back during the rating period. A “Festivus” for the office, if you will.
Evaluations from the Progress Review Hall of Fame:
1. Boss: “Let me start out by asking, how do you think you’re doing? Give yourself an A, B, C, or D.”
Me: “I’ll give myself a B+” (1999: First supervisor/review conversation. Postscript: I rated myself higher than she did.)
2. Boss: “Human resources called today and asked if we will be extending your temporary appointment.”
Boss: “You spend too much time emailing your friends.” (Bob, 2002. Postscript: I was kept on staff, and “turned my act around,” as Bob suggested. When Bob retired 2 years later, I wrote the following on the card: “Bob, thanks for all your constructive criticism throughout the years. It has made me into the person I am today.”)
3. Boss: “I’ve noticed you’re on the phone sometimes when I go over to see you.”
Me: ” I guess it’s just bad timing, because I’m rarely on personal calls.” (McMahon, 2006)
It’s difficult enough to receive professional feedback, but even more so when one is doing the shit work of the office. Listening to how I screwed up travel arrangements back in April. Smiling as we discuss each element of my plan. “Customer Service, can’t complain in this area. Technical Assistance….hmmm… keeping time and attendance…hmmm, let’s go over that.”
To make it through those 30 minutes depends on maintaining a balance of feigned caring and inner calm. Squint the eyes and lean head to one sign to signal “I’m paying attention.” Nod every once in a while. Supervisors eat this up; it makes them feel powerful on ‘their’ day. Respond with generic phrases of agreement:
“Oh , I see where you’re coming from.”
“You’re right, I’ll improve in that area.”
“Sounds good to me.”
It’s no fun; yet a more favorable choice…than reacting by getting emotional.
What hurts the most, is sucking it up and pretending to not take it personally.
Because believe me, I do.