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02 December 2014 @ 12:54 pm
Performance Reviews Make Me SAD  
Here's some armchair sociological analysis that i'm pulling out of my ass. (While sitting in an armchair. I'm talented that way.)

In the temperate latitudes it tends to get dark and gloomy in the fall and winter. Many people get depressed during that time to a greater or lesser degree. This may or may not be directly related to the historically very real possibility that winter might mean freezing to death or starving. People living in those areas created a number of festive holidays to compensate.

Thanksgiving-type: Yay! The harvest is in! We probably won't all starve to death during the winter!

Solstice-type: Yay! We're technically halfway through the winter! We probably won't all starve!

New Years-type: We're reached a turning point! Things won't keep getting worse, the world has been reborn and we're on our way to spring! and/or Spring is already here! Some cultures do it later when it's more clear that spring is actually here and some do it earlier when we more clearly need the cheering up, but a lot of them are clustered around January and February. (And of course some don't do it in the winter or early spring at all, but those seem to be a comparative minority.)

This presumably worked quite well when we were mainly agricultural civilizations.

Now however life has gotten a lot more complicated. Most people have jobs that are entirely unrelated to agriculture and which continue on throughout the year without a huge amount of variation in what they're doing on a month-to-month basis.

But even with a constant year-round workload you need to review everyone's progress from time to time. You need to see if people have met quotas, have accomplished goals, and if they ought to get a raise or bonus. And what better time to do that than the already previously established end of the calendar year? It just makes sense to review your progress over the past year right before the end of the year, right?

So starting about a month or two before the end of the year most companies ask employees to judge each other, and more importantly themselves. Which just happens to be during a period of time when, statistically speaking, everyone is most likely to be gloomy or outright depressed to begin with. Feeling depressed leads to poor self-assessments. Poor assessments lead to feeling depressed. And of course poor assessments can lead to lack of bonuses or even lack of a job (or at least fear of such) during a time when you're supposed to be spending money on presents and decorations and travel. And everyone is supposed to be happy during the holidays! WHY AREN'T YOU BEING HAPPY? IF YOU DON'T CHEER UP AND GET A GOOD PERFORMANCE REVIEW YOU'RE GOING TO RUIN THE HOLIDAYS!

And all because we wanted to cheer everyone up in the first place by stressing that this is (around) the time when the world is symbolically reborn.
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Sister Atom Bomb of Courteous Debateakiko on December 2nd, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC)
My performance reviews were in May. (I was hired in November, and your first PR was at 6 months, then annual PRs were on your 6-monthiversary.)
DonAithnendonaithnen on December 16th, 2014 07:19 am (UTC)
Maybe i'm just unlucky then. All the companies i've worked at have done them near the end of the year.
Beth Leonardbeth_leonard on December 3rd, 2014 08:59 am (UTC)
I once had a nightmare the night before a performance review. The worst part is, part of it came true. My boss was wearing a pink polo in RL and his orange one in the dream, but I received a lower ranking than I thought I deserved. In RL I got a 2 instead of a 1 and in the nightmare, it was a 5, but still, it was not a happy experience. I had to fight and appeal to get it reversed and get the 1 I should have gotten in the first place. That was one of the reasons I ended up leaving the company.

--Beth
DonAithnendonaithnen on December 16th, 2014 07:21 am (UTC)
Wow, i would never have the courage/conviction/whatever to fight to get a performance review changed. If they told me i was a terrible worker i'd probably just hang my head and say "i guess you're right."
Beth Leonardbeth_leonard on December 16th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
It wasn't that I was a terrible worker -- they ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 was supposed to be for the top 5% in the department, 2 the next 10%, 3 for almost everybody, 4 for "you need to shape up" and 5 was "you're about to be fired for lack of performance" -- the bottom 0-5% of employees.

I had been consistently ranked a 2 and I had in that year taken on tasks beyond my pay-grade (I was the chip lead for the most recent chip, and most chip leads were the next level of pay grade up.) In my boss's opinion, ranking me a '2' was still being very nice to me, but in my opinion, he wasn't looking at what I had actually achieved, he was going based on seniority. My boss's boss agreed with me.

Shiver. It still brings back bad memories of working for that boss. He was a nice human being, but I wanted more from a manager.

--Beth