Volume 48, Issue 3- March 2013


The Annual Review
by Lyle R. Hill

While I had been with the company for almost six years, I’d served only three weeks in my new position as general manager (GM) of this large, multi-departmentalized organization. As such, I was now responsible for the annual review of every employee under my direct or indirect supervision. While unionized employees were exempted by contract from this annual event, every other employee received a form that required a self evaluation in a number of categories. When they had completed the survey, they then gave the form to their immediate supervisor who would also rate them. After this, the completed forms went to the GM and a face-to-face meeting was scheduled with each employee.

The corporation, and in particular the human resources (HR) department, placed a high degree of importance on the review process. Because I had not previously been involved with the process as the GM, I had to participate in training classes and exercises to make sure I performed as required.

In spite of my apprehensions, all had gone smoothly and now, only one report remained outstanding. A customer service representative from the corporate call center, Carol Wertzel, was the only report missing. She had twice cancelled our scheduled meeting so I sent her a note telling her that it was imperative that she not break this third appointment because I needed to submit all of the completed forms to HR by the end of the day. She knocked on the open door of my office exactly 20 minutes past our scheduled meeting time.

“Come in and have a seat,” I said, pointing to a chair across from me. “You must be Ms. Wertzel. And I see that you are a little late. Is everything okay?”

“Well Lyle … and I assume you don’t mind if I call you Lyle ... it’s been a busy morning and I wanted to get my smoke break in before we met.”

“Of course you can refer to me as Lyle. I prefer that and I will refer to you as Carol from this point on. By the way, that smoking thing is not so good for your health you know.”

“Actually I’d prefer you call me Ms. Wertzel, Lyle, and as for the smoking thing, I don’t smoke but I noticed some time ago that the smokers around here seem to get a lot more break time than the non-smokers so I switched sides. But listen, Lyle, we’re not here to talk about my personal habits so let’s get at it because I have a lunch date and I don’t want to be late.”

“I see … Ms. Wertzel … so as you suggest, let’s get at it and the first item that we need to address is the one dealing with attendance. I see that you scored yourself as a ten out of a possible ten while your immediate supervisor only scored you as a three. I also see that according to the attendance records for your department, you miss an average of seven days a month and are late virtually everyday that you do come in. Those numbers are terrible, Ms. Wertzel.”

“Listen Lyle, do you really want me coming to work when I don’t feel like coming to work? I mean after all, who really suffers? After I’ve used up all of my sick and personal days, the company stops paying me for time missed so they’re actually saving money and our customers don’t have to deal with a person who doesn’t want to be dealing with them. I think it’s a win-win. What’s next?”

“Hmm, I see. Okay then, next up is a question about working well with other employees. I note yet again, you have given yourself a score of ten while your supervisor gave you a four.”

“Lyle, baby, my supervisor’s a clown. You see, I don’t like the people I work with and they don’t like me. So, for the most part, we avoid each other and everybody gets along just fine. I’m not here to influence people and make friends, I’m here to make a buck and get some insurance coverage. What else you got there on your little form?”

“Actually, I’m sensing a trend here Ms. Wertzel and I’m not even sure we need to continue but let’s do one more anyway.”

“Is it the one about product knowledge or something like that?”

“In fact, Ms. Wertzel, it is. And quite surprisingly, you and your supervisor actually agreed on this one. Both scored you as a two out of ten. But while you agree on the score, I’d like to point out that your score is the lowest yet for anyone working here.”

“Don’t be that surprised, Lyle. I admit I don’t know much about what we sell and I have never claimed to. But listen, Sweetie, can we get to the last item on this silly little form of yours … the one that asks if the employee should be considered for continuing employment … cause I really gotta get going here.”

“As you wish Ms. Wertzel, but let me just say to you that … … oh my, now this is a shock. Your supervisor gave you a ten! It’s the only thing you agreed on. This must be a mistake.”

“No mistake, Lyle. You obviously don’t know who I am. Haven’t you seen the name Wertzel on some of the company brochures and newsletters before?”

“You know, now that you mention it, I have. The corporate vice president of sales and marketing is named Wertzel. And so is the head of the fleet department, one of the regional VPs and the director of research and development.”

“Good boy, Lyle. I think you’re starting to get the picture, so I’m going to head off to my little luncheon meeting and maybe you can find a nice clean form and start all over again. And Lyle, don’t forget to get all of this over to HR before the end of the day. Wouldn’t want to see you get in trouble for being late.”

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. Hill has more than 40 years experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com. You can read his blog on Wednesdays at lyleblog.usglassmag.com.

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