I *hate* performance reviews

My job is mostly special project based. Most of my objectives are fairly generic (“Provide outstanding customer service by blah, blah, blah”). It can’t be helped since I don’t know what I’ll be working on week to week. I am VERY good at my job and have been recognized for my work in the past.

However, we’ve gone thru 2 re-orgs in 2008 and my new boss is clueless. I just got dinged on my performance review for not being able to handle ambiguity.

Look Butt Muffin, I can handle ambiguity just fine. What I can’t handle is crap like this:

Butt Muffin: I need a report and analysis on Product X.

Me: No problem. What do you need to know.

BM: I need to know the effect of product X on the gross domestic product of China. Here’s a template I drew on a napkin at lunch. I’ll be in meetings all day so I won’t be available if you have any questions. And I need it by end of today for a presentation I have to give tomorrow morning.

Me: (Whaaaaaa?) That sounds like a tough one.

Look Mr. Butt Muffin, I can’t read your f***ing mind and I can’t pull numbers out of my ass and I can’t get your request in 3 hours. If this was a one-time request, I could laugh it off. But this seems to be your modus operandi.


I can’t wait to transfer out.

You just need to learn how to follow directionlessness.

I thought this was going to be about a Broadway play.

You need to be more of a team player.

Your problem is clearly a lack of customer orientation.

If you’ve hit a plateau in handling ambiguity, maybe it’s a good time to refocus on improving your blah, blah, blah. You know, for customer service purposes.

<Dilbert to Pointy-haired Boss>

“You look like you have gained weight. Should I take up jogging?”

So you’re the poor bastard that got Tom Murphy, we got him fired. His requests became known as Murphlessnesses. Be careful with him, he’ll run your department into the ground faster than I thought was possible by a single human.

My motto is, anything not worth doing is not worth doing well. Or, as Chico Marx said, $100, $200, I have plenty of numbers."

Your attitude seems rather ambivalent.

Ambiguity aside, I can say that we’ve never had an employee quite like you before, and I really can’t tell you how respected and appreciated you are here. Very rarely is an employee a perfect “fit” for a job, and sometimes an employer has to go through a process of trial and error until they find the right person. The coming year will bring a lot of changes, and I think they will ultimately be good for the company and for you. If you have any questions about your own career path, please don’t hesitate.

I cannot understand who dreamed this up! They had it where I used to work-I worked for Manager A, Reported to manager B, and was reviewed by manager C! “C” didn’t know or care what i was doing, and “A” did not talk" to “C”.
I should write a treatise on this?

I hate performance reviews, too. Because I have 10 of the fuckers to write and deliver, and I hate the whole tedious, convoluted process!

Boss here. I don’t deny your boss might be an ass, but you should take your review as an opportunity to give your thoughts on the job, as well. So many of mine sit quietly and take it, and it’s actually really helpful when I hear “Well boss, you are pretty random about X and it makes the process difficult. How about you Y?”

Or, you could take it to a place guaranteed to make sure he never dings you again: Ask for an in-service or training on communication/organization that he can give you to help you better understand his communication style. It’ll make him think twice because it’s a perfectly industrious, professional request but it means an assload of work for him.

Nice. My boss gives me ambiguous projects like that. Then when I turn them in, she prints them out, and edits them by re-writing the whole thing in pen over top of what I’ve done.

My actual supervisor is not the person I do work for. Last year, someone realized that performance evaluations hadn’t been done in about 3 years. Trouble is, no one could find my job description. Since my supervisor doesn’t really have any idea what I do, I got to write my own job description. She polls the professors for whom I actually do work, and they all rave about me. 5 out of 5 all around. My evaluation comes back, and I have a 3.5 out of 5. WTF?? Supervisor then tells me that they’re not giving anything over a 4 this year. But that’s not what goes in my file. What goes in my file is that I failed to live up to my own expectations.

Perhaps you’d like to come work with me? No ambiguity here! Just straight BS.

My boss is from marketing. Technical details like “How the hell do I isolate Product X from the GDP of China?” don’t matter. To him, it’s a perfectly reasonable request and I’m just being difficult by asking questions.

I was in another meeting with him where we were discussing a different project and I needed his guidance on direction. His exact words were “I know the answer but I would like you to develop a solution on your own before I share.” This was his project I was trying to work on and the turd wouldn’t even give me a straight answer on what he wanted.

I once worked for a company (I won’t montion the name, but it rhymes with CODAC) in which our evaluations were numbers ranging from 1 (worst) to 7 (best) in a number of areas such as attendance, productivity, attitude, blah blah blah. The numbers would be averaged together, and raises were based on the average number. My boss, detail man that he was, just filled in a 5 for everything. The average, of course, was 5. Boss’s boss, whom I’d met for maybe a total of 5 minutes, crossed out the 5 and wrote in a 3. And because I rated so low, he wouldn’t give me a raise. Come to find out, he did the same thing to everyone in the department.

On my last day, I called boss’s boss’s boss, and we discussed my job and the possibilities of rectal insertion thereof.

The thing is, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.

I’m sorry to hear that. Condolences are in order.

Yeah, as a rule bosses don’t like to be bothered with you asking them how to do something, but they do want to know whether it’s doable, or they just assume you’re working on it and meantime you’re on another page. I would suggest telling him “It’s impossible to isolate product X from the GDP of China.” Then he can rephrase.

See, the first thing you need to do is become COMPLETELY DISPASSIONATE about this. Emotion really clouds the issues at work. Once he said he knew but wouldn’t share, I would have specified “I’m not looking for the answer. At this point I don’t understand the question, so I need that clarified so I can get to work on it.”

Again, it’s perfectly possible he’s a waste of time and your best course of action is to be transferred, but if you love your job, try and see if you can’t try changing how you two communicate. Maybe try a book?