To The Thesaurus and Straight On To Dawn, Daybreak, Morn, Sunrise, Sunup

It’s that time of year again. A manager’s most favoritest season.

That’s right, performance review time.

Oh yes. Oh yes, yes, yessity yes.

There is a bright side here. I have a fairly small team (which is usually a BAD thing given how hard we work) and a couple folks are new, so I only have to write four appraisals this year. Four is not bad, right?


Oh gad, then why can’t I bring myself to get them done? I am the very last manager under my Boss to get them done. Everyone else finished in August or early September. It’s, um, the third week of September and I have until September 30 to finish, so technically I am not late.

But EVERYONE else is done and my minions are starting to ask questions.

“Mommy? How ‘come little Johnny already got *his* performance review?”

“Bring Mommy a beer, son, and you might get a raise this year.”

Ok, I hearken back to the year where I had to write fifteen of the buggers. I think I had a fire up my tushie that year because I got them all done in record time.

These piddling little four reviews? I just can’t seem to finish.

Today I put the nose to the grindstone and knocked out two. I felt like I’d just endured a root canal with no novocaine. I needed a martini and a cigarette and I am not even done yet.

My brain hurts. And, as with every year, I have made liberal use of the the thesaurus.

There are only so many ways you can say the same thing. “You did a fine job this year. You didn’t piss me off. You also didn’t knock me out of my seat. You showed up to work most days. You didn’t make me have to have the “stinky, take a shower” talk with you. You are nice to your coworkers. You don’t eat odorous food in your cubicle. You wear shoes. Hell, I’m even kind of fond of you, but sorry kiddo, once again this year you landed on the fat part of the bell curve. Here’s your average rating and thanks for putting up with me as a manager.”

Hey, that’s pretty good. I should use that. It’s quite complimentary, really.

Meanwhile my UK Boss will look at the stats tomorrow and he’ll see I made progress but I’m not done yet. He will harass me again.

It’s a good thing he already finished my appraisal back in August, huh?

*snicker, snort*

Nooo image found on

Comic found on the Peter Anthony site.

And That’s All She Had to Say About That

The scene: Tuesday evening in Opelika, Alabama at a delicious little restaurant called the Warehouse Bistro.

The people: Several of my coworkers, a large group of folks from the supplier we were visiting, and me.

The situation: We’d had a day long business meeting. It had been a full marathon session that was mostly good and occasionally heated. We ended the work day on a good note and headed off for drinks and good eats. We’d all started with a few mixed drinks, then beers and wine bottles were ordered, and delicious food was served. Near the end of the night as the servers cleared dessert plates the whole group was feeling quite convivial, there was a lot of good natured ribbing going back and forth.

I got a fair bit of grief for being from California. Things like “you buncha wine sniffing weirdos” and “You damn Californians!” I’m used to it, I get it back home in New Mexico too, so I know how to hold my own.

At the table were three guys who had driven over to Alabama from Daytona, Florida. It’s about a seven hour drive and they had seen the entire span of Georgia along the way. This one ol’ boy from Florida was the one leading the charge on giving people grief. He was dishing it out pretty hard to everyone at the table. Didn’t matter who you were or where you were from, you were gonna get your share. Even the guy from Australia.

So at one point he was talking about the drive over and saying, “geez, what is it with Georgia? All along the road all we saw were adult shops and fireworks stands. I mean all along I-10 that’s all there was. I couldn’t find a damn McDonalds but I could find all that crazy stuff. There’s gotta be something wrong with Georgia.”

Then he got an evil look in his eye.

He turned to the sweetest, quietest girl in the room who was sitting at the end of the table.

“Hey Cathy*, you’re from Georgia. What’s up with that? I mean, I thought this was the Bible Belt!”

She paused, took a sip of sweet tea, then said, very clearly so all could hear….”That’s because here in Georgia, we’re so good, when we’re done having a little fun we don’t smoke a cigarette, we light off a Roman candle.”

The room was quiet for one, two three beats….then came thunderous applause and laughter.

In the vernacular of our times, that ol’ boy from Florida just got served. In the most quiet, gentle and polite Southern way.

Loved it!

Image found at

* Not her real name

What Tuesday Looked Like

Tuesday. It wasn’t pretty.

I’m going toe to toe with an obnoxious company who are being jerks simply for the pleasure of being jerks.

I’ve gone twelve rounds with these yabos and I’m e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d.

And so, this is the perfect representation of my Tuesday.

This photo, oddly enough, was taken while I was on an evening con call with a whole other clan of jerkwads.

The Good Man texted me from the living room to ask how I was doing and this was the reply he got.

Rawr face. Coming at you.

May Wednesday be nicer.

Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page, and taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.

Back In The Swing of Things

So, I’m back in the office after a week in Costa Rica. UK Boss is in country. The pace is back to normal. Whatever that means.

Today I sat down with the boss for a much needed, long over due one-to-one session.

It was about halfway through our hour chat that Boss Man said the words that chilled my soul.

“Right, so I just got the schedule for annual reviews. You’ll need to communicate dates to your staff. Self assessments are due by mid-June.”

Just like that. That’s all he said. Easy, breezy and calm.

Meanwhile, the sound of screeching demons and terror howls echoed in my mind.

Yes, it’s that time of year: Performance reviews.

I’ve been doing this manager gig for most of a decade, and still, performance reviews are the hardest thing I have to do every year.

Mainly because I don’t just blow them off and write canned phrases. I actually put in a lot of work on my performance reviews for my team.

I give performance reviews the way I wish they were done for me.

But never are.

That said, just because I care about them. Just because I put in effort. Just because they matter does not mean I actually enjoy writing them.

It’s hard work. Add to that, since I am a middle of the pack manager and not the big boss, I don’t get the set the raises and bonuses. I give input on my team but someone else makes the budget.

So I get to convey raises and bonuses that someone else has decided.

And they so rarely match what my employees deserve.

So I have to write a performance review to match the budget and not the actual performance of the employee.

Often, this can be the least gratifying thing I do all year.

That said, performance reviews are one of the things that separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the mice, the mangers from the dilettantes.

Writing and delivering a meaningful performance review is what makes me a better manager. I think.

Oh, and in other news, my boss attended some up with people type of training class last week. I said to him “Hey boss, I’m having a problem with this risk assessment.”

“No Karen, as I just learned in my training, there are no problems, only opportunities.”

The fact that I didn’t take that opportunity to kick him in the shins shows the power of my personal and professional growth over the last year.

I’m sure that will show up as a positive on my performance review this year.

Opportunities my ass…….

Something to Aspire To

Let’s stay on our theme of managers and management, shall we?

My story from yesterday had me thinking about the kind of manager I’d like to be one day.

Which reminded me of a post I did a few years ago.

Presented for your review, a (rather effective) management style that you won’t find in any college textbooks.


Management…hamburger style

Currently, at the building across the way, there are some gentlemen hard at work putting a new roof on the two-story structure.

Roofing has got to be some grueling, backbreaking work, and they’ve been toiling at this for a few days now.

About an hour ago, all work went quiet over there. I thought maybe they were on a break. They weren’t on a break.

It appears they were having a little conference. Seems there was a problem and they were having what they’d call in the corporate world, a “root cause analysis” discussion.

I suspect they discovered what, or rather, whom was at the center of the mistake, because I could then hear the supervisor of this project having a one-on-one mentoring conversation, loudly, with his employee.

Let’s keep this a family friendly post…for all the instances of the eff word, I will substitute a more appropriate word.

Oh let’s have fun with it, let’s use the word “hamburger.”

Here we go, a faithful recounting of this clearly very hands on and empathetic manager as he guides his employee through a big error.

Remember: hamburger = eff word

“You hamburgered up. You hamburgered this whole thing up. I didn’t hamburger up. All the rest of these hamburgering guys didn’t hamburger this thing up. What in the hamburgering hell were you thinking? You weren’t thinking and you hamburgered this hamburgering thing all to hell. What the hamburger, man?! What the hamburger happened?”

: sound of employee mumbling, trying to explain his reason for hamburgering everything up :

“You what? You what? Who the hamburger told you to do that? I sure as hell didn’t hamburgering tell you to do that! Now this whole hamburgering project is running behind and that costs hamburgering money? Do you get that? Do get that you’ve cost every hamburgering one of us some hamburgering time and some hamburgering money?”

: more mumbling :

“Aw man, what the hamburger. Get back to work!”

And with that, all the machines started up, the smell of tar once again filled the air, and the team of folks got back to roofing.

There you have it. Management by hamburgering around.