A friend recently related this, unfortunately not atypical, incident at my friend’s company.
It was the joyous time of year for personal evaluations. Way they do it at that company is to have a list of goals, agreed upon by employee and manager. Through the year both manager and employee track these goals, ending with the employee asked to evaluate their self on a scale of 1 (substandard) to 5 (outstanding).
The manager takes the employee’s self evaluation, adds their own comments, and passes the whole thing on to human “resources.” Whence various mystical incantations from that department are applied to the document.
My friend is a top employee, a fact which nobody questions, and so my friend gave four personal goals a 5 and one goal a solid 4. The form was then handed in.
It wasn’t long before a human “resources” resource got on the phone to question the ratings. “Did you know,” the resource questioned, “that your group is only allocated three ‘outstandings’? So you cannot put four of them for your self.”
There are more than two dozen people in my friend’s department. The following is roughly what was said.
My friend replied, “But I thought that I was supposed to rate myself. Isn’t that true?”
“Yes, but groups aren’t typically allowed to have so many high ratings.”
“Because that group wouldn’t be balanced. It would have more ‘outstandings’ than other groups. It would stick out.”
“But I think my performance has been outstanding. Why can’t I put that?”
“Yes, we know you, and your role is secure. Everybody knows you do a great job. You just can’t use so many outstandings. You can talk to your manager about it. He’ll probably let you have one of them, and other people in your group will probably get the other two.”
My friend was somewhat flustered. “But isn’t the purpose of this form to rate myself?”
“Then why can’t I put what I feel I deserve?”
“You can. But you just can’t put so many ‘outstandings’.”
“Is this a formal policy? Why doesn’t the form say you can’t use the ‘outstandings’.”
“You can use the ‘outstandings’. It’s just that we have to have a balance between the departments…”
There is no fighting a resource, so my friend said “Ok, fine. What should I put then?”
“Well, a lot of people have been putting 3s (met expectations)…”
“But I did more than that. I’ll put 4s.”
“Hmm. You’ll have to talk to your manager about that.”
“Ok, I will.” And my friend hung up.
All this happened yesterday, so the conclusion has not been reached.
Certainly the resource has a college degree–who can get a job at a major company these days without a ‘degree’?—so this is just more evidence that a degree is only loosely correlated with knowledge and ability. Or maybe it’s just evidence that people given a desk and told to do something will make themselves busy. Like, by designing useless employee evaluation forms.
Anybody else have a similar experience?