Those Dreaded Job Reviews

Hitze in Berlin! Berlin hat augenblicklich eine Hitzewelle wie sie seit Jahren nicht mehr vorgekommen ist. Der Berliner versucht auf jede mögliche Art und Weise sich Abkühlung zu verschaffen. Das Büro im Wasser. Ein geschäftstüchtiger Kaufmann, welcher die Hitze in seinem Büro nicht mehr aushalten kann, hat sich in die märkischen Gewässer zurückgezogen und erledigt dort mit seiner Stenotypistin die notwendigen Büroarbeiten. Unser Bild zeigt ihn beim Erledigen seiner Korrespondenz mit seiner Sekretärin im Wasser.

By Judy Berman

Esteemed management …

Let’s just say that I’ve been a stellar employee and be done with it. OK? There’s no need to rate my performance.

All that paperwork is just killing trees.

Seriously, I feel like I’m drowning in a tsunami of paperwork. I’m treading water just to stay afloat. Then, the final indignity: the annual review.

Hey! Who are you to judge me? You’re the one that thought that meltdown in Chernobyl was just to clear more space for parking.

My last review? All right, it was done years ago. Let’s just say the numbers weren’t impressive.

Out of a five-grading point system, I got a 2.8. A rating of 2 is transitional – whatever that means.

Now a commendable is rated 3. But I suspect that’s the equivalent of average.

From the talk around the water cooler, that’s the rank that many of my colleagues fell short of.

Including one who has been here since B.C. – Before Carbon dating.

Still, he bragged that he got a 2.85 – five-tenths higher than me.

I eyed him suspiciously and asked: “OK. Who did you pay off?”

His cryptic smile revealed nothing, but I knew that he knew where all the bodies were buried.

Frustrated man at a desk

What amuses – and puzzles me – is I got a 3 for work relationships. You know, that’s the one you got in grade school for “plays well with others” and “shares toys.”

Next to that rating was an ominous asterisk with a note – “had some clashes with night editor.”

That might have been linked to the night that he made some changes to my story after I’d left for home. He slipped in a reference about the city official being a “mentally deficient, drooling numbers-cruncher.”

Thanks. He already refuses to take my calls.

Hmmm – 2.8! I know I could have done better than that.

Let’s see. If we have an outright brawl in the newsroom, tumbling around on the floor, gouging and kicking. … Maybe, just maybe, I can raise that to a 4 (superior) – or even a 5 (exceptional).

That’s the goal I’ll strive for next time.

Faithfully yours …


  • Note: This humorous tale does not reflect my real relationship with any editors I had. They were the ones who often caught any errors in my stories before the paper hit the streets.

What’s your take on job reviews? Responses should be family-appropriate (and not the Manson Family either.) 😉


Photo: Jobs: Secretary typing while boss is giving dictation. Photographer: Georg Pahl (1900-1963).  Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-08112 / Georg Pahl / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Photo: Frustrated man at desk – Author: LaurMG – Taken May 24, 2011.

  1. I’ve often thought job reviews are measures of conformity more than how well one does one’s job.

    I was observed twice this last week at two different teaching jobs, and although both came out well, in the second instance (having been previously observed), I knew what they wanted and so tried not to disappoint. Not that I did anything I objected to, mind you, but the lesson was certainly a lot more structured than it usually is. 🙂

    1. My evaluations improved after I looked at what others – who scored higher – did. Then, I emulated them. When you know what’s expected, you’re bound to do better. I’m glad you benefitted from the first observation. 😉

  2. From a human resources perspective it’s a lose-lose. Even when someone gets a superlative rating, they think they should have gotten something higher. I once had the person who got the biggest raise in the department (of course she didn’t know this and I couldn’t tell her) complain about her raise. Argh!

    1. I get it, Kate. I decided to just do the best I can. But, sometimes, it seems the evaluation is designed to have us fail. How? The state of Florida’s evaluation system has a VAM (Value Added Measure) score tied to our evaluation. Out of 5 points, our team got zero. And some of the students we were evaluated by weren’t even on our team.

      1. Assessing teachers must be hard. I have some teacher friends (two are ESL) and they get very distracted with all that’s going on in our state on test results compared to teachers’ competence. We have a huge influx of immigrants from latino countries. Many times the kids don’t speak English yet they are subjected to the tests. I don’t have an answer but my friend does exactly what you do, does the best she can.

      2. I also have problems with our ELLs (English Language Learners) being compelled to take a state writing test – an essay – when they only have a rudimentary grasp on English. The reason given is the district or state wants a baseline of what the student can do.

        Years ago, one ELL student I had was in tears because she had to take this test. Just imagine being in a foreign country and the only thing you can use during the test is a dictionary. Not very helpful when you have to read and process several stories.

  3. What fun this is, Judy, and the opening picture set the stage perfectly.
    I sat through only one miserable, dire, painful job review in my entire life. I was almost 20 and it was for a part-time job where I felt I’d done really well.
    But the reviewer who brought in the paperwork didn’t know me or look up from reading the review written by the evening shift supervisor, and I had only been on the day shift. Finally, as I was stunned and sinking back in my chair, waiting for my turn to respond and ask questions, the reviewer read the bit about “off color comments made in the presence of women, and hiding in the alley and smoking during coffee break,” he stopped, looked up at me and then down at the paperwork, gulped and stammered. He pounded the desktop, mumbled into the intercom that someone was in B-I-G trouble.
    He’d been given the paperwork on a male employee who worked the the evening shift.
    Of course he muttered that someone was really in trouble, but he never said a word to me or apologized for the mess up. If I’d been the boss, I would have fired him.

    1. Marylin … I’d have been stunned and shocked as well. That was very unprofessional of that supervisor. Now, however, I’ll bet that scene makes you laugh – especially once he realized he messed up. He certainly should have apologized – very unprofessional of him not to.

  4. i’m not a fan of these – i prefer to just have my admins pop in at any time, judge for themselves based upon their experiences and how they see me interact with others, – my students as well as coworkers, and themselves.

    1. I agree, Beth. Your work and relationships should count more than how much you met a certain standard. No matter what they say, that evaluation changes depending on who is doing it because it is subjective.

  5. I’m self-employed, so fortunately I don’t have to deal with job performance reviews. However, from my just retired husband and currently teaching younger daughter, I know the teaching evaluations are insane. They are so long that they can’t even be printed out!

    1. That is crazy. Part of mine was less intense this year, but the rest did require a lot of writing. A few years ago, we were supposed to do research to back up our responses. Arghh! 😉

  6. I smiled about both your “delightful” tale and Marylin’s. Yes, I have been under the microscope often especially in the years of my college teaching.The latter involved classroom observation and hour-long “chats” in the dean’s office about my performance. My dean was good-natured but picky and often mentioned items not germane to my actual effectiveness as a teacher. Still, when I retired he presented me with a plaque with lots of superlatives.

    Now my “job” performance as a writer requires a totally different skill-set, with myself sitting in solitude the biggest critic. Oh, vey . . . love your photos!

    1. I forgot the grueling – well, not really – “chats” about my job performance. One administrator was really supportive. While I like our current administration, I’m sorry that she transferred to another school. She even met me over the summer to see my photos of Italy – a place she had planned to visit and may still. 😉

  7. I liked this post, Judy! It made me laugh! My Mom, aunt, uncle, brother and sister in law all have had varied administration’s or administrators who drove them crazy. My Mom told me a great way of looking st principals and superintendents: “They are usually not there for the long haul. Wait it out!” 🙂 Not sure about newspaper and bosses in other areas, Judy. I will keep on trucking in the auto parts warehouse and hope my life will change once I leave this work setting! 🙂

      1. Your sweet comment made me smile as I head off to bed with a book, Judy. I liked your fictionalized post which could be expanded into a short story about frustrates employee and employee relationships. 🙂

  8. Fun post Judy! Have you really witnessed an outright brawl in the newsroom? 😀

    The design firm I worked for didn’t have any obvious review system. Seniority based on quality of work determined raises. Mostly. There was still a lot of politics and heartache and arguments with the boss but he was expert at smoothing ruffled feathers 🙂

  9. Very funny Judy . Job interviews for me in the past were a breeze . I found it easy to put on a short performance and was fortunate to get jobs on that basis …after the trial I was dumped naturally …just a joke , some kept me on honestly . But when I saw what my son had to go through to get a job , I just couldn’t belive it . I am convinced that if I had to go through THAT I would be deemed unemployable😊

    1. Cherry … Those types of interviews would just stress me out. I recall my former principal interviewing me for a job – 12 years ago. She asked me how I’d handle a room full of kids. (I was still miffed about another principal who told me: “If the kids smell blood, it’s over.” Horrible! What a way to describe your students.) Anyway, I told her: “I’ve interviewed a stone, cold killer. I think I can handle a room full of kids. It turns out she thought that was hilarious. (Thank heaven!) The following day when she was repeating my comment to another administrator, I told her I might be eating those words. 😉

  10. Always research the company and perhaps have a suggest about new direction or approach for its goals. Have an answer for this question: “Why should I hire you instead of someone else from my stack of applications?”

  11. In Miami 1980 they moved 9th grade from middle school to senior high and needed to bring some teachers over too. The principal and assistant principal came over to interview. Senior high always needs coaches. I know nothing about coaching anything so when they asked what sport I liked I said “poker”. They looked at each other, smiled and said in unison “You’ll fit right in.” Got the job on the spot !

  12. That’s a very amusing tale indeed Judy, very well written! But I won’t give you a score (or dare I say – a review) because that might lead to trouble!! 😀 But seriously, it is excellent! Because you’re a teacher I was thinking along those lines until I read the bit at the end. So glad this is not your review from school! 😉

    I think reviewing employees or even children at school is fine as long as it’s intended to help encourage improved growth, but often, you wonder, what was the motive behind the review?

    1. I’m not a fan of job reviews, especially if they appear to be stacked against the employee. A couple of years ago, our team was given a VAM – Value Added Measure – of zero out of 5 points for gains that students on our list made. Some of those kids had never been in our classrooms. Insane.

  13. All I can say is, anybody who’d give my pal Judy Berman less than 11 outta 10 on a job review, would probably give a ‘Poor’ to Einstein, Mother Teresa, and Santa Claus! Makes me testy just thinkin’ about it => 😠 <= steamed

    I worked for an insurance company (programming and systems analysis) in an earlier life, and had my share of job reviews. Talk about mixed feelings: I wasn't that good, really, and, in hindsight, I got better reviews than I deserved. But even so, I resented criticism, even when it was well deserved!!

    Looking back, I think the problem with most reviews in a corporate setting is that managers don't think much about an employee's attitude, habits, performance, etc, until the last minute– when a job review is suddenly due. So the only thing they remember are isolated incidents, or what you've done lately.

    In a perfect world, a manager would give immediate feedback, positive or negative, as the case might be, so an employee could either change his ways, or proceed with confidence.

    And on that dubious note, I hereby declare: keep doin’ whatcher doin’, my dear Judy, yer great, see?? 😊

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