Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Performance Reviews.......

I have been retired from employment for almost three years now.  I like being retired.  The reason I like being retired is because I don't have a boss (other than the Big Guy, of course).

Don't get me wrong---there were some bosses I liked.  But, every boss in every job has one thing in common:  the administration of a performance review to each of their subordinates annually.

I have reflected on the many performance reviews I received.  What sticks in my mind is this:

---Performance reviews are an artificial and uncomfortable vehicle for employee and boss to discuss the past year's performance and get mutual feedback for improved performance

---The "boss" starts the review by producing notes and records obtained over the review period and first telling the employee which areas of work are, in his/her opinion, progressing well.  This, conventional wisdom dictates, puts the subordinate at ease and encourages meaningful discussion

---Then, the boss begins to outline those areas of work that, in his/her opinion, need improvement.  Feedback is encouraged, but the boss really is only interested in the employee agreeing with the boss on all matters.  Woe be it to the poor slob who thought the boss was serious when he/she said "How can I help you perform better?"

---I'm a relatively slow learner, so it took me a few early years to understand that the best approach in any review is to completely agree with anything the boss had to say about me.  "You're right, boss man!!" was the best attitude to get through the review quickly and with minimum collateral damage.  Basically, tell 'em what they wanna hear.  Then, go home and kick the hell outta the family dog.

---When an underling is agreeable in a performance review, the underling is deemed to be a "team player".  In other words, the underling does not rock the proverbial boat and the boss sees that worker in a favorable light.  Thinking outside the box is not a desirable trait.

No, I don't miss bosses and reviews and micromanagement of my life.  But I do wish I had a steady income stream.  Ha.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"About Schmidt", and Subsequent Observations...

Jack Nicholson Plays Schmidt
I had the chance today to once again view the Jack Nicholson movie from 2002, "About Schmidt".  Funny, you know, how one can see a movie a second time years after seeing it the first time and come away with different observations and feelings from the original viewing.

Of Course, Kathy Bates Steals Whatever Scenes She Appears In...

This film explores some pretty powerful themes of life---especially of later life and what is important.

At the end of the story, Schmidt (Nicholson) muses to himself:

Relatively soon, I will die.  Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn't matter.  Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed.  What difference has my life made to anyone?  None that I can think of....none at all.

And this:

I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made?  What in the world is better because of me?

Now, before you go to thinkin' that this movie is a downer, let me say that it is not.  But I did find it, upon a second viewing 10 years later, to be very thought-provoking. 

And, the more I thought about it, the more I once again started to see the answers to Schmidt's questions.  The answers lie in God and our true purpose here on earth.

I was reminded of Solomon as he wrote Ecclesiastes.  King Solomon had it all---wealth and power and adulation beyond measure.  But, in the end, Solomon realized that none of it mattered---only living for God and glorifying Him was important.