Three petite problems with performance evaluations

As part of my job, I participate in an annual performance evaluation. There’s something reassuring about those words “annual performance evaluation”. They’re in a ballpark with “audited financial statements”.  They roll off the tongue reasonably well, inspire confidence, sound like we are doing things right. And I’m sure we are, especially with the audit.

When it comes to performance evaluations, there are three little problems.

The first one is me. In this area, I’m with Acts 20:35 (I love you Google) which quotes no less an authority than Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Who am I to argue? He and I are on the same page with this one. I would much rather give an evaluation to someone else than receive an evaluation from someone else.

To me, this seems natural. I’m fine with making judgments about others … people who cut me off in traffic, friends who don’t respect my many well-thought-out theories, bosses who … (some sentences were never intended to be finished). But I’m simply not fond of being judged. What can I say? It’s a weakness, we all have them, and we should admit them when being evaluated.

The second problem is myself. I am a senior. It strikes me that annual performance evaluations are based on the idea that I, the evaluatee, can change, that I can grow, that I can improve. But can I? Can you teach an old dog a new way to roll over?


I just Googled, “Can old people learn?” and the first thing that came up was this: “Researchers have discovered that older people compensate for cognitive decline by using different areas of the brain to perform the same ‘thinking tasks’ as younger people. Old brains can learn new tricks!”The source is which sounds almost as reassuring as “audited financial statement” or “annual performance evaluation”, until you notice the article was from 1999, kind of an old post for a source of daily science news.

The third problem is I. Twice during my annual performance evaluation, I have made the case that I am about average at a wide variety of things. And twice the evaluator has thought I was faking modesty. However, both parts of what I was trying to get across are true: (a) I am a little below average, average, or slightly above average (b) at a wide variety of things. At a certain stage, this combination is exactly what an organization needs … someone who shows up every day and can adequately handle lots of different things.

Over time, this will change. My employers may need to find somebody who is outstanding at donor relationships and/or great at running special events and/or an expert at marketing, and so on. And I will either have to get really good at compensating for cognitive decline by using different areas of the brain to perform ‘thinking tasks’ or say, “Au revoir”.

Now French, perhaps this is another area in which I could become somewhat average, après mon emploi. Think I’m not being realistic? Ne juge pas que tu ne sois pas jugé. (Merci beaucoup, Google translator).