Appraising The Big Beasts #workplace #memories #management

Having finished this year’s Nano with a book in first draft form and a few days to spare, I was thinking about the need to maintain one’s self confidence to achieve these sorts of goals. Historically I haven’t been that imbued with enough self confidence but as I age I get better at, at the very least, convincing myself I can do things. It has taken quite a while to get here.

For some it was second nature.

Recently an acquaintance went to a corporate shindiggery-thingy where he met people in the same line of work and engaged in the papier-mâché version of casual sex where people share pieces of cardboard as the end game of the interaction rather than bodily fluids. When we met, shortly after, he recounted one encounter.

Him: ‘I met Rodney Hybrid-Postbox the other day.’

Me: ‘Rodney? Bloody hell, he used to work for me.’

Him: ‘He said. Sends his regards. Seems he’s doing well. He’s a partner in Globetrotter, Pince-nez and Globule.’

Me: ‘I’m not surprised. He always had a certain self confidence. I did wonder where he would end up.’

He was unique, was Rodney. I wrote a year ago about my experiences of appraisals in the work place, here if you are interested. I carried out several hundred in my time but Rodney’s was unique.

One of the things you learn working with a bunch of highly educated (I could say intelligent but that’s not the same thing) hyper sensitive overachievers is that, for the most part, they suffer from various versions of impostor syndrome and need bigging up in some way to maintain their fragile self confidence.

Not Rodney. Rodney was from the generations of associate lawyers who had to complete a self appraisal form against a set of criteria which a partner and he would discuss. Each of the five categories (variously technical competence, time management, team working, client relationships and something else I can’t remember) he would give himself a number out of 5 and then a comment that was meant to identify  strengths and areas for improvement (nothing as undermining as weaknesses, necessarily).

In each case Rodney had a five and nothing he considered needed any work.

At the end of the form there was a box ‘to be completed after your appraisal’. The idea was the partner and the associate would offer up their versions of what worked well and what needed doing and this box would contain the summary, usually some actions.

Rodney listened to my thoughts, nodded at my well-pitched suggestions for things to consider and laughed gently at the idea that perhaps his form suggested a little self awareness wouldn’t go amiss. He promised to give serious thought to what went into the final box.

I received it back inside a day. It said:

Rodney is considered to be probably the best associate in the department.

I went to see him; I ran through the points I’d made and asked if he thought he might reconsider that final box. He agreed he would. He laughed dutifully when I said just taking out the ‘probably’ wouldn’t work.

It took him two days this time. It said

Rodney is considered to be probably the best, if not the best, associate in the department

I knew he would go far; I was just never quite sure in which direction.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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20 Responses to Appraising The Big Beasts #workplace #memories #management

  1. I’m always befuddled when I look at who goes far — in either direction. Have a thriving Thursday, Geoff. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Light says:

    Congrats on NaNo! I finished last night. 😀


  3. Congrats again! Such a great accomplishment. Btw, reading a Wodehouse Jeeves & Wooster book right now, and I think of you with the snappy dialogue. Such fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a supervisor write, “Thinks he walks on water.” Five years later as I evaluated him I wrote on his form, “I still think I walk on water.” his comment, “touche.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh – shiver!! It brings back those years of me being the silly sod who had to carry out the teacher appraisals. I dealt with many Rodneys. History has shown that most crashed and burnt at some point or other – and most of them, as a result, woke up. Time has a way of bringing us all to our senses 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Well, he had a few dangerous plummets while at ours without ever quite bursting into flames. He may well have learnt of course but onto on my watch…


  6. Ritu says:

    Cocksure was that Rodney… But it obviously worked!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. arlingwoman says:

    Oh, goodness. I’ve never had to deal with that. Most people come looking for ways to improve, and the ones who don’t need more intervention than a once yearly appraisal. I be you’re glad to be rid of him!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. JT Twissel says:

    I’ve known a Rodney or two! You do never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the distinction between education and intelligence


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