(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,
I am in an odd boat this year. I have been reading up on preparing for the annual review. In the past I have been the stellar employee, with lots of successes and easy to document accomplishment of goals and objectives. This year I have been straight up average. There have been few avenues to shine.
All I have done is my job. Nothing more. No excuses. It has just been that kind of a year. There have been no significant customer complaints or kudos. I worked independently. I lent a hand when I could although not that often. There were few opportunities with lots of turf and job protection going on. It has been a pretty miserable place to work this year. I have managed my work load. That was not that difficult. Due to budget cuts there was much less to do. In times of plenty I considered a 60 hour work week slow. I have enjoyed the new work to life balance.
The only things I can claim are I am reliable, competent and hard working. I cannot go into my review and say, I came to work. I did my job well. I am still here (only because my job search has not turned up anything better). Every bit of information I have seen about preparing for a review involves documenting successes. So what does one do when the only good thing to report is, I did my job. I am not proud of it but I met expectations this year, nothing more, nothing less.
There is no money for pay increases this year, so that is irrelevant.
Would it shock you if I said that this was completely normal? Most people are, well, average performers. The difference between you and most people is that you aren't deluding yourself into thinking you are a stellar performer when you are, in all actuality, just doing your job.
But if you have been doing your job you do have things to document. No significant customer complaints is a good thing. The projects you completed, the goals you did meet, should all be listed.
I presume (perhaps wrongly) that you have regular performance reviews and goals for each year. Just go down your goal list and write out what you did.
Sure, it won't be as spectacular as in years' past, but it will be honest. And it's highly likely that your boss will be relieved that she doesn't have to wade through a bunch of exaggerated gloating about successes that didn't really happen.
In addition, if you've had the same boss for several years she already knows that this has been a "calmer" year than in years past. Be honest and emphasize your stability and reliability. Don't be afraid to point out that you did meet your goals.
It won't get you a gold star or whatever reward you get when there is no money for a pay increase, but you have been a good employee. Just not a spectacular one. And honestly, sometimes that's better for a manager than someone who is trying to bust their buns to get promoted.
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