One of the greatest scams ever perpetrated on the American worker was the rise of the self-evaluation. You know what that is: Before your boss gives you a performance review, he or she tells you to review yourself.
Talk about passing the buck. It's not enough that we have to do our job, now we have to do yours, too?
I confess I sort of wish these self-evaluations had been around when I was a manager. Bosses dread doing performance reviews. I was supposed to do them annually, but I'd put them off and put them off in the hopes that even my best employees would retire or be crushed by a falling safe before I actually had to review them.
I've never had to do a self-evaluation. Until now, that is. The other day my boss asked if I'd had a performance review since I started writing this column 15 months ago.
When I told him no, he said, "Why don't you do a self-evaluation?"
Oh joy. I write five columns a week, host an online chat every Friday, coach the jai alai team at my kids' school and am working with NASA to design a supersonic transport able to carry 600 passengers from New York to Tokyo in under three hours, and now I have to find the time to evaluate myself?
Hmmm. Let's see. Ah, a quick search of the Internet reveals the Kansas State University Employee Performance Review form in a handy PDF format. All I have to do is ponder various categories and choose among "consistently exceeds expectations," "occasionally exceeds expectations," "meets expectations" and "below expectations."
Now, are these my expectations or their expectations? No matter, since I think I'm doing just dandy in all the categories: adaptability, attendance/punctuality, communication (duh), creativity, initiative/problem solving/decision-making (took me a while to decide on this one, actually), interpersonal skills, job knowledge, work habits, work quality/productivity, delegation and supervision (I had my assistant answer that one), leadership, planning and organizing.
There. Consistently exceeding expectations in all of them.
But you always want to have a few areas you can improve in; otherwise it looks like you can't be honest in your self-criticism. It's just like during a job interview, when your prospective employer asks, "Tell me what some of your weak points might be."
Back when I was a working stiff -- before I dug my fingernails into the very plasterboard of this employer and vowed never to let go -- I would choose from this list:
"My single-minded pursuit of excellence can sometimes border on the monomaniacal."
"I may be too much of a 'people person,' if such a thing is even possible."
"If I see malfeasance in the workplace, I'm driven to expose it. Unless it's by someone higher up than me, in which case I know to keep my mouth shut."
Here's an even better idea: The buck has been passed to me. I'll just pass it to you. Please complete my evaluation, and I'll forward it to my boss.
A Formful Dread
The office manager at your pediatrician's might be just a leeeetle touchy right now. That's because we're deep into that time of year when parents are bombarding their kids' physicians with health forms that must be filled out for summer camp.
And they must be filled out right now! Right now, I tell you, or little Jimmy can't go to Crimean War reenactment sleep-away camp!
Don't think these forms can just be rubber-stamped. "Every injection, weight, height, blood pressure, pulse, any kind of problem with hearing or vision, attention deficit. . . . It's almost committed to memory," says Gail Watts, who manages the Montgomery Village office of pediatrician Eduardo Bravo.
Since many Washingtonians enjoy both procrastinating and demanding instant service, there can be some unpleasant moments.
Tia Lymus has managed the office of Silver Spring pediatrician Gabrielle Virgo for eight years. Her first year, "a lot of the parents kind of got away with murder." They'd bring in the forms a day or two before they were due or try to schedule a last-minute physical exam.
Finally, Tia put her foot down. "You know something," she told them, "you need to get this done in a timely fashion. We [will] not be able to push you in or slide you under the rope."
Says Tia: "I got some grumbling. Some people were outright nasty. Some people complained to the doctor because I wouldn't budge."
But they got the message, and things have gotten better. (The practice also charges to fill out the forms -- $10 -- something more pediatricians are doing.)
The health form avalanche will go on throughout the summer -- for camp and for school. Parents who wait too long before school starts can have an unpleasant surprise: a kid who isn't allowed to go to class.
Says Gail: "There is not a parent after June, July and August who does not want that child back in school."
Speaking of Camp
Our goal for Camp Moss Hollow is $650,000. As of yesterday, we'd raised $61,456.60. Please help:
Make a check or money order payable to "Send a Kid to Camp" and mail it to Family and Child Services, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.
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