Annual Review and Pep Meeting

In the movie, THX-1138, Robert Duvall’s character escapes the underground society because the cost of his pursuit goes over-budget. The robot Police are withdrawn. He’s become too expensive to keep. He escapes.

My boss is flying in today for lunch and annual review meetings with myself and another employee who lives in the area.

We’re both old-timers. We know the drill. We’ve both been through it many times.

Many times.

Smile and nod at the Accomplishments section.

Say, “Thank you.”

Rephrase items in the Needs Improvement list to demonstrate understanding. Discuss ways of implementing the needed changes but ultimately agree that “the plan” the boss put in the report is very good, eminently workable, that it puts everything into perspective and is an excellent way to get there.

Add no negative comment in the space provided nor add anything too transparently positive. Be interested, attentive, positive and forward-looking.

And when, on the final page, all of that is reduced down to the single performance number that feeds back into the corporate machine to determine raises and bonuses, you see again that you are, after all that sincere-sounding verbiage and obsequious smiling, reduced to a number.

I like the work. I deliver real value into the lives of those I teach. They are better for it.

But corporate goals and business plans don’t always mesh with what’s good for the business or what’s good for the customers.

I watched Motorola self-destruct. They are barely a shell of what they once were. And more than one company I used to work for is completely gone, absorbed by a competitor or just dwindled away to nothing. And those that remain have evolved. They are something different than what I knew them to be.

So I figuratively write my own review of my employer. I list the company’s Accomplishments and detail its Needs Improvement list. And ultimately that review must also come down to a number, and that number is “1” or “0”, “stay” or “go”.

THX-1138 eventually escaped and discovered the real world.

Mine will have turning targets.

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