Yesterday I had my annual performance review with my boss. Here's a nifty tip for you managers out there: If you would like to have a constructive conversation about performance, do not schedule it for the morning your employee returns to the office from a 3-week trip to the other side of the world and it's probably a good idea to let him/her know what the subject of the conversation will be.
My meeting invitation was simply "Touch Base," which, after three weeks out of the office, I took to mean simply that my boss wanted to catch up. But when he handed me a piece of paper outlining my bonus for the year, I realized I had stepped into my review. Simply put, this was one of the most confusing and frustrating conversations I've ever had. Throughout the hour, I was told many different things, paired together below to highlight lunacy:
1. You need to be more strategic. You need to pay closer attention to details.
2. You need to have a more aggressive stance on which factories we should not be using. Never stand in the way of business needs when it comes to factories we should use.
3. You're taking on too much work. You need to reach out and support other parts of the business.
4. I'm pleased with everything you've accomplished this past year. You will not be receiving a merit increase.
5. The only way to increase your compensation is to get promoted. I do not know what you need to do in order to get promoted.
And the irony? I got to work in a good mood, thinking how much I was looking forward to making progress on the work ahead of me. I left in a decidedly worse mood, thinking how much it blows that I am woefully under-compensated for the work I put in.
Also ironic? The fact that my boss insists the bottom-line message is that I have done a wonderful job and that I have a bright future ahead at the company. It's clear to me that he was struggling to provide feedback, but instead of offering anything constructive, he babbled some platitudes and counted down the minutes until our meeting ended.