The Pain Of Performance Reviews

21 Sep 2022

Every three months, I have to sit down with my boss and assess my previous quarter’s work. I don’t like these. Included in this review is a self-penned personal statement, a summary of how things were for me.


I don’t like these either. I don’t like doing them, talking about them or thinking about them. I always do them at the last minute, normally on the same day as my quarterly review. I feel no sense of relief having finished it, more a sense of concern that I’ve had to do it at all.


I sit in my reviews listening to my boss going over the details of something I’ve done and have to concentrate on not drifting away. My boss is a bit of a waffler. She details at length my shortcomings with the reasons behind them.


I think of a Shakespearean quote “Give to a gracious message a host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell themselves when they be felt.” It’s from Antony and Cleopatra. Like most Shakespeare it needs a bit of clarification but when explained, it just works.


What this is saying is when delivering good news, be as flowery as you want. Bad news should be given without waffle.


I refocus on the meeting where we’re still going on about my wrongdoings. At length. Internally I am screaming. I feel like interrupting saying ‘Look, I am not stupid, I have letters after my name. I understand English. You have been making the same point now for ten minutes. Can we please, in the name of all that’s Holy, MOVE ON.’ But I don’t. I sit there with an attentive expression looking like I am interested. If only the Boss knew.


When it does come to the good stuff, my memory is that is comparatively glossed over. More a reverse of the quote. It’s not what I take from the meeting.


When did all this start? When did we move to this longwinded style? If it’s supposed to make me feel better, it doesn’t, and if it’s there for my Boss then the focus is all wrong.


Performance reviews aren’t easy for the Boss or me. I know that. But shouldn’t they be about messages to me and not making the Boss feel better in giving them?


I spoke to a Doctor once who said that they used this quote when giving bad news. Get it over quickly.


Am I alone? This quote reminds me of how to give good or bad news. And how I want it to be given.


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