Over the past year the management staff has given me verbal praise for a job well done. In the last 30 years I have never gotten below an "Exceeds" on my annual evaluation. This past month my new supervisor rated me as "Meets" expectations. Her words were glowing, but I can't seem to move beyond the down-grade of the evaluation. The work environment has become increasingly stressful the past few years, and I'm told it is only going to get worse. There are many new changes in positions coming, none of which I have been provided information on. There is a job opening coming up that I may qualify to interview for based on experience, but I don't have the degree they would prefer to have. A couple of years ago I would have jumped at the chance to at least interview, but I'm struggling with it now. I'm exhausted and not sure I have the passion needed to make it succeed. I thought about looking at another job, but my husband was laid off a few months ago and he asked me to wait until he is stable in a new job. Am I just being too sensitive about the evaluation? Should I try for the new position and risk loosing my job if I'm not able to build the passion into the new position and perform at the management level? When responding, please keep in mind that I'm in my 50's and I'm not a risk-taker by nature. I look forward to your comments.
It's a brave new world out there especially when it comes to performance reviews. There are many companies today who make it difficult for supervisors and managers to recognize a great performance inasmuch as they require the leader to document the who, when and how of any performance category they would rate higher than meets expectations. In some organizations it requires an exhaustive documentation far above that of the past. Without it, you either meet or do not meet expectations.
I can understand your frustration. After 23 years in corporate life, at the age of 54, I walked away from a role that most would dream about to do the work that I love but timing is important. It does sound like you're in the midst of finding some answers for yourself so I've attached an outline you might find helpful.
In the meantime, if the job is less than satisfying, spend time in a hobby or volunteering in something that makes your heart sing!
Thanks Deb. The outline has some great ideas. I signed up on your website. Maybe we will get to talk again some day. I took the Strength Finders assessment last year. It showed me a lot, however, it seems I still have some more to learn. I love your idea about a hobby or volunteering. Recently I decided I want to take a sculpture class. I just need to find one I can afford. I volunteer playing the piano for a music group that sings at convalescent hospitals, nursing homes, and community events. It has been the only pleasure in my life for the past few years, unfortunately they don't sing year-round. I'm glad you found your calling. Keep up the good work.
Deb is right, in a large company the supervisor's hands are often tied when it comes to how employees are evaluated. I work for a very large company and I have 22 people reporting to me. My yearly evaluations are expected to fall into somewhat of a bell curve, with most employees rated as "meets expectations" and a few above and a few below. Of course, it is statistically ridiculous to expect a bell curve to apply to such a small group. But if I turned the evaluations in with most employees "exceeding expectations" they would be rejected. It is extremely frustrating and quite honestly it makes the whole evaluation process a joke and something I treat as "going through the motions".
So, I wouldn't worry too much that a new supervisor "downgraded" you. He probably thinks you are doing a great job as evidenced by his words.
I am also seeing the increased stress level in the large company environment. We are being asked to do the same work with fewer and fewer resources. If you work for a public company, you are likely aiming for the quarterly numbers rather than taking actions that are beneficial to the long-term success of the company. That, and the lack of communication you allude to, can all make for a discouraging environment and a feeling that there is not much meaning behind your work.
I think you just have to determine to control what you can control, and do the best job possible within that framework. Speaking personally, that's what I have done and it is also what is leading me to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor rather than place my future in the hands of my company.
I hope I didn't discourage you, that is not my intent. If you realize the realities of the environment you're in and adjust your expectations accordingly, your stress level will be down and you won't be so hard on yourself. :)