3 Misconceptions About Performance Evaluations: I Thought I Did Well. Where Did it Go Wrong?

There will always be grievances with performance evaluations, no matter how reasonable and fair the system is constructed. The fundamental reason behind this is because the company’s resources (money, promotions) are limited. Not everyone can be awarded top marks. No matter how renowned and prominent the company is, there are bound to be people who have a difficult time coming to terms with their results. These are some of the things I’ve seen and come to understand while discussing employee evaluations and negotiating salaries.

[1] I thought I did well, but why is this all I’m getting?

One common misconception about performance evaluations is that we tend to overestimate our contributions. Putting in a lot of hard work does not necessarily lead to promotions and salary increases. To succeed, you need to be good at your job. In the online game League of Legends, players hardstuck in bronze/silver can be just as passionate as higher-ranked players.  They grind and grind, trying to climb up the ranks, but players aren’t promoted based on their efforts.

It’s important to reevaluate priorities and understand whether your priorities align with what the company values. Promotions and raises only come when you’re “good” at your job.

[2] I’m extremely good at my job, but why won’t the company promote me?

Promotion solely based on good performance is a dangerous take. Being good at one’s job is a given. An individual needs to possess leadership. They must be able to bring out their entire team’s potential to be considered for promotion to higher levels of management. Many business management publications recommend rewarding high performers with bonuses or raises. But if your aim is to advance and move up within the organization, you must acquire the necessary skills first.

[3] All I’ve received are compliments. Why was my evaluation rated so low?

Compliments on a day-to-day basis are pretty much the equivalent of a “good job”, or a pat on the back. It’s more of a gesture recognizing an individual’s efforts, but not necessarily an indicator of progress. It’s not always feasible to provide feedback on every point of improvement outside of a one-on-one setting. Employees are already stressed out enough from work as it is- they don’t need someone hounding them on what they could do better. Complaining about people not telling you what you could do better is counterproductive. Rather, being proactive and taking the initiative by asking supervisors/co-workers what you could improve on may lead to better evaluations.

[4] What are some important factors to consider outside of work?

Loyalty: People who are constantly considering resigning vs people who intend on staying with the company for a long time.

From the company’s perspective, it’s only natural that employees that are committed to staying with the company for a long time are treated differently from someone who’s constantly trying to leave. When a company is deciding which employee to invest thousands of dollars into, it’s only natural for the company to be hesitant to invest in an employee who is considering resigning and carrying their resignation letter around.

Communication: the company is not omnipotent. 

Working hard is always important, but letting people know what you’ve accomplished is also just as important. Future positions and salaries are not only a reflection of an individual’s current abilities, but also an indicator of the company’s expectations for their potential growth and development.

[5] Recommendations

Although it’s important to take responsibility for our own actions and not blame others, there are situations where external factors can affect our success. For instance, in team-based games, we may be stuck with subpar teammates that hinder our progress and drag our rankings down. In these conditions, your rank may continue to fall, despite your individual efforts.

However, if you possess the necessary skills and consistently perform well, you can still achieve success and your rank will ultimately go up, all in due time. If you consistently feel that your teammates are underperforming, it may be an indication that you have yet to reach that level.

Food for thought: Remember, short-term results do not always accurately represent your skills. With dedication and consistency, your long-term performance will accurately reflect your true abilities.

Communicate with your supervisor often. There are two ways to approach the results of your performance evaluation. The first is to assign blame to external factors such as the evaluation criteria, the evaluator, or the working environment, or even your colleagues.  While this may be an easy and psychologically inexpensive option, it is not recommended if you truly wish to grow and develop. The alternative is to take a reflective look at your own performance and identify areas where you can improve. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the company and/or the company’s policies, the evaluator may be at fault. But the choice to work for that particular company and the responsibilities that accompany that decision also fall on yourself. Ultimately, the responsibility for your career growth and development lies with you. This includes the decision to stay with the company or seek other opportunities.

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