On a Scale of 1 to 5

My HR department sent a company-wide email reminding all employees that annual performance reviews are lurking in the new year. We would be concerned if these reviews actually meant something. If they were used, for example, as a basis for salary increases or promotions, we might take a more hearty interest. They are not. Why, you’d like to know? Having even asked such a question shows that you are thinking along a certain logical path which is clearly at odds with the inner workings of a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation.

So we employees treat the performance reviews with something approaching apathetic carelessness. The paperwork involves listing your professional goals for the coming year, and then, as if HR knows you’re just copying your answers from a website you found, they also require you to list how you’re planning to achieve said goals. Last year I can recall I gave my goals and strategies serious thought while riding the B train on the way in to the office. An advertisement for a local commuter college offered some ideas – “Enroll today and in less than 18 months, you could go from dead-end to high-end.”

Meanwhile, your boss also completes a review of how well you performed in the past year. On a scale of 1 to 5, you are ranked in several categories, including attendance and initiative. Ya-wn. No wonder no one cares. Want the staff to take an interest? Let’s liven things up by selecting more exciting ways to judge the employees’ progress or lack thereof and hand out awards as such.

We might borrow the Straphangers Campaign’s list of categories which they use to rate the bus and train lines. For example, instead of giving the Pokey Award to the slowest bus route (the M23 bus route, by the way, clocked in at a blistering average pace of 4 m.p.h. in 2007), the employee who arrives at his or her desk the latest each morning gets recognized. The prize, an alarm clock of course. Or the Shleppie Award, given to the bus route plagued with bunching/gaps in service, meaning that two buses might arrive within 30 seconds of each other, then no bus would arrive for about 5 hours. (The M1 takes home this prize.) At the office, the employee who whiles away the day trolling the internet, chatting on the phone relaying the same story to everyone she knows and making twelve trips an hour for coffee before finally settling down to business at 4:36 p.m., and then frantically declaring how frantic she is, wins this prize, which I think would be a swift kick in the ass at 9:01.

I’m submitting my proposal for a change to the performance review system first thing in the morning. Well, after I get my coffee, make a few phone calls and surf the internet a bit.


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