Annual reviews, reinvented

This pilot fish has worked in his company's IT department for more than two decades, and somehow he's never quite made his peace with the annual employee review process.

"When I started, all reviews were done in Microsoft Word," says fish. "The manager would write your review and meet with you to discuss it, and then you both signed off on it.

"Fifteen years ago, they began having the employees write their own reviews. Five years after that we switched to an HR system where employees had to log on and write their reviews and click Submit, and the managers would check a box saying they had read them."

Fish soon becomes suspicious that his manager isn't actually reading any of the yearly reviews. To test his theory, he begins adding unusual items to the "accomplishments" field each year, just to see what he can get away with.

When "cured the common cold" passes without so much as a murmur, fish is pretty sure he's been right all along.

Eventually that manager retires -- but not before fish has claimed "participated in a super-secret mission with the FBI to stabilize a region" and "helped boost revenues for the company in ways that cannot be measured" among his annual achievements.

And once the new manager is in place and review time comes around again, fish types in his usual "accomplishments" nonsense -- but then adds, "Will buy manager a soda if he actually reads this."

"That afternoon as I was working, he walked up, grinned and said, 'You owe me a soda!'" fish reports.

"So we took a break, and he said he thought the review process was pretty stupid too. But to insure I stayed out of trouble, he suggested I should keep my creativity to a minimum in case his boss read the reviews."

Sharky reads every true tale of IT life that comes in. So send me your stories at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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