The Annual Appraisal

Many thanks to JB for the insight on the Olympics.

January again. Time to be measured against the targets set 12 months ago.

“Come in. Come in. What can I do for you today?”

It’s my annual appraisal.

“Of course. Come in. Take a seat. Ah, yes, it’s the new cost constraints. Managers are only allowed one chair. Never mind, just squat down over there in the corner. No, not that corner, that one’s carpeted and we don’t want to wear it out do we. That one over there. What was it again?”


“Oh yes, and you are? No, don’t tell me. I know who you are, it’s on your badge. Right, now you are settled, how do you think you have done this year?”

Actually I think I’ve done very well. The shortage of staff due to the hiring freeze has put extra pressure and workload on the team but we haven’t missed a target and we have even taken on extra work from some of the other teams who have been disbanded.

“Yes I agree, you’ve all done remarkably well. I didn’t think you’d do it, but it has been an exceptional year for the team. And, indeed, for you personally.”

Thank you.

“No, don’t thank me, you did all the work. You have earned the thanks. In fact, it’s been a bumper year for the company. Did you hear the CEO? Record profits, record earnings per share, record dividends. Pay rises and bonuses all round to those who contributed to the success.”

Good. It’s been a few years since we have seen those.

“We managers are having upgraded offices. So next year you will have a chair. Are you OK squatting there? I thought I saw you twitch.”

I am fine, thanks

“If you are interested I can show you the new company car brochure we have. Maybe not a twitch, more of a wince, are you sure you are OK?”

No, I’m fine!

“The shareholders are ecstatic. There was a message in a company blog to say that one shareholder was able to take an extra cruise this year on his extra income. That’s four cruises a year. Imagine, we have made all these people very happy.”

I am so pleased.

“I’m pleased you are pleased. It is important you share in the happiness you have helped to create. Knowing you are pleased gives us all a warm feeling.”


“So on to the important part, your appraisal for the year. Now what we have to consider is that although the company as a whole made a profit, record profits, this part didn’t. In fact it shows a significant loss due to the amount of overtime you have worked.”

But that’s because we are short of staff.

“Now it’s no good blaming others for your shortcomings. You need to accept responsibility. Your overtime bill is the highest in the company. Do you realise that some of you are earning far more than the managers. But despite that, because of your outstanding performance I am giving you an A for your appraisal.”

Thank you. A? Where does A fit in? The appraisal bands are 1 to 5.

“Ah yes. They used to be.”

When did that change?

“Earlier this week actually. When it was realised you’d made a loss, they were changed.”

So what does A mean? Is it good?

“Oh yes. It’s extremely good. In fact, it’s the highest you could get.”

So I am at the top?

“Oh no. We still have the bands 1 to 5. In fact we now go to 9. Then we have the alpha rankings A to E. So you see you are at the top of all the alphas.”

So it’s the same as a 10.

“It’s nothing like a 10. We don’t have a 10. It’s an A, you are approaching this with the wrong mindset altogether. We are following the Olympic movement. From 2012 the highest medal you will be able to win is bronze.”

What! No gold and silver? So you get bronze for coming first?

“Of course not! That would be absolutely silly. The first person to cross the line will be designated third and therefore the winner of a bronze medal. Gold and silver will not be awarded to athletes, just to the organisers.”

Crazy! Who on earth thought of that?

“One of mine actually and I’m rather proud of it. I was on assignment to the Olympic organising committee. Some brilliant people there. Excellent parties.”

Oh my God! So what does my A mean to me?

“It means you are a very good worker, producing top class work.”


“But you made a loss. But for you the company would have made even larger profits. You are holding the rest of us back.”

How can we do anything but make a loss, we are a service function. Just like payroll and HR. We are a necessary expense  the company has to bear just to run the business.

“Payroll. Interesting you should mention them. They made a profit this year.”

They made a profit? How on earth can payroll make a profit?

“I’m not sure about all the details but it was something to do with withholding pension contributions or diverting them to a runner at Ascot or something. The auditors said it was immoral but not illegal.”

I don’t believe it.

“It’s true.”

So I get an A because the department makes a loss. What about management?

“Managers are exempt. We are facilitators to help you make a profit. If you fail to make a profit then it’s because you haven’t listened to us properly.”

But you are part of the loss! In fact you produce nothing at all so you must be a complete loss!

“Rubbish! We provide the infrastructure of the company. Without managers managing the divisions, groups and departments of the company how would any work get done?”

You don’t know what we do.

“I don’t need to know what you do, just that you are doing it. Stand up for a bit. Let the blood circulate. You definitely have a twitch. Your face has turned purple.”

So, what happens now?

“I shall need you to sign your appraisal.”

OK, though I’m not happy.

“But you are pleased. Yes, I have it noted here. You distinctly said ‘I am so pleased’.”

That was when I heard about the record profit, not my appraisal.

“I’m sorry, my notes don’t go to that level of detail. Anyway, you will have to sign it to be eligible for any pay award or bonus.”

So I will be getting a raise this year?

“Maybe. The higher rated appraisals get the most then it filters down through the levels. It probably won’t reach the A band.”

But that’s crazy. I worked damned hard all year for an A and nothing to show for it!

“Yes. But it is a well deserved A. It was the highest you could get.”


“Yes. I told you the appraisal bands had been changed last week. An A is the highest you could get.”

Something to be thankful for I suppose?

“Absolutely. Unfortunately a low appraisal like an A means that you will need to improve considerably during  the next year. I shall be having weekly meetings with you to monitor your progress.”

But I couldn’t get higher than an A, you said so.

“I think you need to reset your sights somewhat. I am sure you can aim for something a bit higher than a bronze. There are, after all, a full nine appraisal ratings above an A. Think big! Think gold!”


“Sorry time’s up. I have more appraisals to do. You have plenty to do too. I need your response to the redundancy notice I have just emailed you. Oh, and don’t slam the door on your way out.”


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