Appraisals, High 5s or Licking Your Wounds

Appraisals, High 5s or Licking Your Wounds

The New York Stock Exchange. Trading is over. Some tally their profits. Others lick their wounds.

These lines were from a 1980s Smith Barney commercial citing the great and not so great fortunes of investors at the end of a trading day. The Year 2017 is over. Many of you have received or will receive your annual performance appraisal and your related merit increase and bonus award. Some of you will tally your profits (receive excellent performance ratings and exceptional merit increases and bonus awards). Some will lick your wounds (receive lower than expected performance ratings, merit increases, and bonus awards). This week’s article provides suggestions on how you can position yourself to tally your profits at the end of 2018.

John, Andy, and Eileen have been close friends since they joined the company 5 years ago as new hires upon their graduation from college. They have dinner on occasions to share work and career experiences. Their discussion this evening is focused on their annual job performance appraisals and their annual bonus awards and merit increases.

John: I wish that I could gloat about my performance appraisal, but that’s not going to happen tonight.

Andy: I don’t feel that great either. I expected an exceeds expectations performance rating, but received a meets expectations rating. I will not be purchasing that sports car I have been eyeing since last summer.

John: Eileen, why are you smiling?

Andy: I think Eileen is about to gloat.

Eileen: I am not going to gloat. However, I do feel great about my performance rating. I was rated an outstanding contributor. As a consequence, I received an exceptional merit increase and a great performance bonus.

John: Eileen, I know that you are a good performer, but so am I.

Andy: I have shared my accomplishments with you throughout last year and you both said I was doing exceptionally well.

Eileen and John both acknowledge that Andy was doing well.

Andy: So, how did I end up getting a meets expectations appraisal?

John: I also shared my accomplishments with you throughout the year. And, you both believed that I was on the path to receiving an outstanding performance appraisal. Just like Andy, I am in the “average heap”.

Eileen: We have to manage our personal performance to get the rating we desire.

Andy: How do you do that?

Eileen: Achieving an exceptional performance rating starts with setting exceptional performance expectations with your boss and others who will influence your performance rating. This increases the probability of your raters and you reaching the same conclusion on your performance at the end of the year.

John: Break this down to me.

Eileen: At the beginning of the year, I reviewed the objectives my organization set for the year and designated the objectives whose accomplishment would make my organization exceptional as compared to other organizations in the company. I confirmed my designation through discussions with my boss.

Andy: That was a shrewd move.

Eileen: Then I focused on the exceptional objective and the role I could play in enabling the organization to achieve the objective. By the way, I chose an objective that mapped to what I wanted to accomplish last year to advance my career per my career plan.

John: That was a strategic move.

Andy: I wish I had done that. My boss informed me during my performance review that my performance was exceptional for the things I accomplished. However, the things that I accomplished were not exceptional when compared to the other objectives the organization established for the year.

John: It’s like dunking a basketball when the basket is only 8 feet off the ground versus 10 feet.

Eileen: You got it! Remember many people work hard to keep the business running and advancing. However, the company has to manage wages just like any other cost. This is accomplished by distributing ratings from outstanding contributor to unsatisfactory performance among all employees.

Andy: Eileen, what else did you do to manage your job performance?

Eileen: I prepared the performance appraisal I wanted to receive at the end of the year. I used the company performance appraisal form to project what I would accomplish and assigned an outstanding contributor rating. I called this my “pro forma” performance appraisal.

John: Wow!

Eileen: My boss and I agreed that if I accomplished what was included in my pro forma performance appraisal, it would constitute an outstanding contributor rating. Guest what?

Andy: What?

Eileen: To prepare my end of year self-appraisal of my performance, all I had to do was make some minor adjustments and save the pro forma appraisal as my year-end self-appraisal.  My boss signed off on the outstanding contributor appraisal.

John: That was great personal performance management. I am going to do what you did for my performance this year.

Andy: I am going to do that too. I am looking forward to having dinner with you this time next year. I will be gloating about my performance rating, bonus, and merit increase.

John: There will be a lot of gloating among the 3 of us next year!!

Will you tally your profits or lick your wounds at the end of 2018?

What performance rating do you expect to receive this year?

Does your boss have the same expectation for you?

How well does your annual performance objectives relate to your career goals?

What performance appraisal experiences would you like to share with other readers?

I invite you to share your comments, experiences, and suggestions. This helps me provide information that may help you address your career opportunities and challenges.

Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions. Visit the Contact page on the Fields of Success website to schedule a session.


Our careers are our most important economic asset.

To get the most value from your most important economic asset, you must manage The Business of You.

Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management process and information designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.



Founder, Fields of Success, LLC

Enabling professionals to convert career challenges into career success stories.

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