Performance Reviews – The Adult Report Card

Performance Reviews – The Adult Report Card

Andrea Freedman

Growing up, I usually dreaded the time in the school year when report cards came out. As an adult, I often think of my work performance review with similar trepidation.
Why is it that seeing something about oneself in writing makes it seem that much more serious? Hearing someone offer verbal constructive criticism may not always be pleasant either, but there is nothing quite the same as seeing it on paper. A review, of any kind, can sometimes feel like a rejection.
I can be having a great day, thinking everything in my world is alright, when all of a sudden I get my annual performance review, and whether or not it is positive overall, seeing any comments whatsoever that imply there is room for even the slightest improvement in the way I do my job, is enough to make me yearn for the day when I can somehow retire.
I remember being apprehensive about showing my parents my report card, worrying that they would try to force me to limit my social activities in order to buckle down and spend more time studying and doing homework if my marks were not good enough. I thought of my potential loss of privileges with as much chagrin then as I do now when I am faced with having to prove myself at work year after year in order to get even a modest salary increase.
Those of us who sought approval of our report cards when we were younger may subconsciously seek a similar type of approval from our bosses by way of our performance reviews, even though we are now adults.
I feel like a grown-up; that is until I receive the dreaded performance review. Depending on what my boss thinks of me in a nutshell, that will determine the fate of the future of my job, as well as any potential chance for even the slightest bit more money.
Bad habits can follow one through life, thus resulting in similar criticisms whether we are students or employees. Comments on a performance review such as ‘Has difficulty focusing’ might have appeared on that person’s report card in the form of ‘Has trouble staying awake in class.’
Someone once considered a class clown, thus garnering criticism on report cards about being too disruptive in school, might very well see similar comments on performance reviews at work, about getting carried away and distracting one’s co-workers.
How many times do I have to read the phrase attention to detail? Quite frankly, I’m sick of it. Even when I was in school, I found it almost impossible to pay attention for the duration of any one class, much the same as I do now all day long at the office.
If you are like me and have been in the workforce, in the same field, for most of my adult life, it is often difficult to keep up with the constant advancements in technology. In today’s world, every student coming out of school has advanced computer expertise; it comes as second nature to them, whereas for me, I sometimes find it a struggle to keep my computer skills up to date. That certainly does little for my confidence when it comes to review time.
When I got home from work the other day, my husband was watching the end of a golf tournament and informed me with dismay that Tiger Woods had lost because of a bad putt on the eighteenth hole. Some golf fans wonder if he will ever golf at the same level he did before his life became mired in scandal. While some of us may be just as happy in not knowing what everyone says about us, a person as famous as Tiger Woods cannot escape it, most likely making him feel under even more pressure.
Even for those of us who are so interesting that someone might want to write a tell-all book about us, the price of fame would likely come with seeing things in there we would rather not read about ourselves.
Once a person’s confidence takes a hit, it is often difficult to get it back, sometimes only resulting in further errors, whether they are at work, school or as a professional athlete. It is easy for a person in a position of authority to chastise us, directly or indirectly determining our fate. It is one thing to write recommendations or criticisms and expect a person to miraculously change overnight. It is quite another to read those comments about ourselves and bounce back from them.
We may think we are great at whatever it is we do, but it is others who we have to impress, on paper and otherwise, if we want affirmation of that.
I realize that no matter who you are, seeing a written critique of our abilities, whether it be on a golf score card, a critic’s review, a report card, performance review, or the many, many rejections faced by writers, we all must face scrutiny sometimes, and the chance that our confidence will be shaken. How we choose to deal with that will determine if we can overcome it.
The only way to ensure never getting a bad review in life is to not go to school, never work, not write or practise any form of art, not compete in sports or try anything at all, simply for fear of receiving a bad review. One person’s opinion is only just that and is not always necessarily correct. It is very difficult to always get a good critique from everyone, and sometimes impossible to receive a perfect score from an habitually harsh critic. That does not mean that we are not good at whatever it is we choose to do, no matter who chooes to give us a bad review.♠

Copyright © Andrea Freedman 2012


About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on December 12, 2012, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. loved your essay.Its not how many times you get knocked down that counts, its how many times you get up again.


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