The Other Side

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

It’s review season at work.  I hate doing annual reviews.  It’s stressful for everyone involved, remembering all the details for multiple employees, the agony of waiting for the decision, the fact that someone’s future salary may depend on how they were viewed/perceived in the year (if the company even decides to give them), lack of introspection on some parts.  I think it’s a terrible process because if we were consistent with direction over the year, we wouldn’t need to have a “big talk” at one point determining the fate so to speak.  Regardless, it’s mandatory for the company at this time.  So, I’ve been giving reviews long enough, and I know how to read people well enough, to address the personal and the professional in my employees and myself.  No, I’m not exempt from reviews.  Neither is my boss. 

I wasn’t thrilled with my review in the respect I think some of the big picture like overall workload, overall focus/direction, and how the needle was moved were overlooked.  I have a pretty good gauge on my ethics/habits/behaviors so I know where I fell short.  It’s what allows me to be honest with other people as well—my boss actually commended me for that.  So I tend to focus on the positive when I give reviews, I think we were a little too harsh as far as leaders.  This was a different year, however, and I wasn’t mad because I had already anticipated much of what was going to happen and I’ve been preparing mentally for next steps for a while.  My boss wasn’t though.  

It was early on Friday morning when I ran into my boss and she immediately exclaimed that she was going home because she just had her review.  We talked the whole thing through and I empathized with a lot of what she said.  There are other factors at play for her because she has a higher position so there are more politics in the organization since we’ve been bought out, and that is something we’ve ALL struggled with—she just gets it more.  There are major issues with communication and that trickles down all the way to us.  There isn’t clear direction from above her because we are in this weird state where we have our own initiative as well as the organizations initiatives but we are all supposed to be one.  So, truly, I understand, and it is complicated.

But what I explained to my teams, I became the reflection of their work, and what she had to deal with her teams, she became a reflection of that work.  I’m not sure she was happy with that or prepared for it.  It’s never fun having things pointed out that we need to work on and it’s even less fun acknowledging the truth in it.  No one likes to dig that deep when they’re at that level.  Not that my boss is a bad boss, but we are all human and need to have the capacity for constructive feedback.  When communication is bad, you have to work to be a better communicator.  You have to learn to elicit the things you need out of people.  Sometimes it takes someone outside to hold up that mirror to understand that to taste the other side. 

I think the major point is that we are all in this together.  There is no real need to continue evaluating people like this because something will always be missed. We never take the whole picture of who we are or what was accomplished or the things we had to overcome to accomplish them.  And there are times when we have to face that what goes around comes around.  If we are at the mercy of arbitrary judgement, then so is everyone else.  We are actively practicing things that are damaging to people. I mean, there IS value in constructive, timely criticism.  There is no value in listing every single thing a person has done and deeming it good enough at one time.  No one should have that kind of power and it shouldn’t be a requirement for people to do that to each other.  Let’s evaluate each other on our humanity and see how things change…

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