Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid completes a performance review

For once, I have not been involved in the performance review project, so I feel perfectly at liberty to complain about it. Everyone hates performance reviews; that is unless you get a super high rating and a special bonus to match. Otherwise, it is just another niggling task to complete when you could be doing something much more interesting instead.

I’m now quite miffed to have been kept out of the performance management revamp. I really liked working on the redesign project a couple of years ago and even being part of the systems team to put the reviews online instead of sending spreadsheets around. Even though revisiting the same thing over and over is a bit of a pet hate, it is disappointing to find my only involvement is the dirty nitty-gritty of filling the ghastly thing in.

Tweaking goals

My goals were agreed with Big Bad Boss at the start of the year, but he won’t remember so I can tweak them now. There were projects like reviewing the employee assistance provider and looking at voluntary benefits, which I know I’ve completed to expectations. I’d like to say that I had exceeded all expectations, but given Big Bad Boss expects miracles as a matter of course it is unlikely he will agree. I’ve added a project reviewing benefits for acquired subsidiaries, because that French one was a particular nightmare and I want points for effort.

The key to getting a good review is to make sure you get credit for what you have done, even on day-to-day activities. So, dull as it is, I add goals like ‘successfully manage the annual insurance renewals on time’. I’ve spent hours on that so I might as well get some kudos for it. I’ve also included managing the benefits database, and completing annual surveys as Susan somehow managed to dump those back on me. Credit where credit is due, I say.

Personal development

We now have to complete a section on personal development and bizarrely, even though nobody round here really cares who gets developed, there is 10% weighting assigned to this. I pop in a benefits conference and a networking event so that I don’t miss out on points. I didn’t actually go to any, but Big Bad Boss won’t remember that. He never misses the chance of a free drink, and he will assume it’s the same for me.

Worryingly, there is a new section assessing work style, and I don’t get to fill this in myself; managers, colleagues and direct reports will give their feedback. We now have a 360 review as part of the annual process rather than on a random basis. Gulp.

Assessing colleagues

Finally, I get to have my own back by assessing everyone else. It sounds like a great chance for revenge, but turns out it isn’t. First up is my colleague, Lazy Susan. What interpersonal skills does she demonstrate? I’m struggling with this already. When it comes to snap-chatting her friends or updating Facebook, she is the life and soul. With anyone at work, she is distracted and surly. I choose the middle rating.

The next question is: does my colleague appear to be motivated by her tasks? Well, she seems exceptionally motivated to make sure she does as little as possible on benefits, but it would be risky to say it. Again, I choose the safe option of a middle rating. Are there any areas of improvement, which would help her to do her job more effectively? Let me count the ways. The problem is that we are a small team and it wouldn’t take much savvy to realise who had commented. I reckon, stupid as she is, even Susan could work out that much. If I thought my feedback would help I might risk it, but really it is far better when she just keeps out of my way. Middle rating it is.

Then I have to rate Big Bad Boss. Can I give examples of how he contributes through his leadership? Well, he spends a lot of time out of the office at golf events and letting me get on with it. No, I can’t write that. I strain to think of something positive to say. There must be something. Anything? I skip to the next question. Does he engender a culture of trust? I’m surprised to even see the question. No one round here does that. It is dog-eat-dog from the top floor down and Big Bad Boss is no exception. Middle rating. Does he show empathy with his team? Is this for real? I’ve seen more empathy from a rattlesnake.

If only we were a larger group, I could have so much fun with this form, but I just daren’t. Lazy Susan has trouble with words, as well as numbers, so her answers will be short and misspelt. Big Bad Boss would know exactly where any caustic comments come from. Even if we weren’t such a small team, I wouldn’t trust the woman running the reviews not to let slip. Such is the engendered culture of trust around here. Is there anything Big Bad Boss can do to improve his leadership? They’ve only allowed 100 characters for the answer, so I leave it blank in protest.

It is a shame we don’t get to give feedback on a wider group. I’d love to share my views on the organisational development team for a start. All that backstabbing and finger pointing doesn’t exactly bring out the best in a colleague. Call me a hypocrite, but it just makes me itch to backstab and point back. And as for the executive management team, the Higher Beings warrant a whole extra page for my suggestions for improvement. Luckily, what I don’t say can’t hurt me.

Next time… Candid attends a benefits seminar.