You know how you used to get school reports, and worry about them? Remember that paranoia, when the little card landed on the mat and you waited for the sighs of disapproval from your parents? Remember how glad you were when it stopped? Out here, it doesn’t.
Remember - a company is basically a feudal system. Middle managers have duties to the senior managers, senior managers pay tribute to the directors. It’s all very simple. Your boss needs to check that you’re doing what you’re being paid to do and doing it right, otherwise the whole thing falls apart.
Of course, it won’t do to actually say this, because we’re supposed to be living in a groovy knowledge economy where we all have ideas that count and everyone’s autonomously deciding their work-life balance, etc. etc. Everybody is supposed to pretend that they’re here for the sheer hell of it. But that’s OK of course, because as we know it’s all about the language. Change the words and all those awkward authority structures that aren’t supposed to exist any more simply vanish.
So they call it an assessment, they say it’s about your personal development. And then they take you to a room that smells of polished pine and old swivel chairs, identify learning opportunities and points where you need to be stronger. And you’re supposed to nod and maturely take this on board and not worry whether you’re going to get thrown out on to the street.
Why do you put up with it? Because they also talk about your key strengths and tell you how impressed they’ve been with this or that thing you did. Who doesn’t love that, to be told how good they are? So easy to forget that you’re being given a school report. Especially when you get a good one.
If they keep being good, I’m going to end up giving them myself one day. By then it might seem natural, to do this to another adult in a little room, to let them sit there nodding and smiling while you sum them up in a series of grades. Hopefully they’ll go and write a column about it.