When Feedback Should be Required

A few months back, my employer went through the annual rite of performance evaluations. At this point, I had been employed here for five months, four as an intern and one as a staff associate. Needless to say, much of the evaluation was irrelevant. How have I fostered the client relationship? How could I? I’m not a party to client visits and my employer certainly doesn’t have me calling them up to check in. Who are you again?

Needless to say, I had few expectations for my evaluation. Lacking any substantive performance items to review, we discussed my career plans, such as studying for the CPA exam. Then they gave me a raise. (I’ll give you a minute to process that; it made my brain stick when it happened).

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the extra money. But a little explanation would be nice. Even if for no other reason than, “We like you.” Was there something particular to my performance? If so, I’d like to know so I can continue that action. Did they recognize some hidden or underdeveloped potential? Then tell me so I can keep that skill and continue developing it.

This is one of the biggest problems with performance evaluations: they can be very one-sided. An evaluation should be a mutual undertaking for the benefit of employer and employee. When done, both sides should feel like something was accomplished, like some benefit was derived from the whole process. Instead of focusing solely on the employee’s areas for improvement, success should highlighted as well.