REALITY CHECK: Honesty is difficult on a self-evaluation form

Reality Check | Mike Taylor

Can’t believe it’s been a year since I started what I continue to think of as my “new” job at the Daily News. I’m still loving every minute of it. Most days, I actually look forward to getting to the office.

Sure, I’d rather be fishing. Or having hot wings and domestic beer at a sports bar. Or even sitting in my back yard watching the geese fly onto the lake. But as both Ecclesiastes and The Byrds have noted, to everything, there is a season.

If one must work, it should be at a job one loves.

Still, every so often I’m charged with a task I’d rather avoid. This happened last week, when the managing editor sent me the dreaded one-year “self-evaluation review” form.

I hate these things.

I’m basically an honest person. Yes, really. But when faced with a self-evaluation form — one which might one day be a determining factor in future raises or even employment — I’m tempted to lie like Satan in the Garden of Eden.

Then I worry … what if the form is meant to determine whether I’m honest? Won’t all that lying just confirm what management must already suspect? But maybe a willingness to lie just to hang on to my job is exactly the sort of “go get ’em” attitude the boss is looking for.

There’s no way to know for sure.

So, when faced with one of these things, I usually just tell the truth and hope for the best.

This is probably not a brilliant strategy; but I am not a brilliant guy (though I typically say I am on self-evaluation forms).

Some of the questions are easy, like: “How knowledgeable is the employee of the principal areas of their position?” I assume this means, do I know how to check my voice mail and write an article.

The answer, happily, is yes. Yes, I DO know how to do these things.

However, when answering the next question: “How knowledgeable is the employee of operations and/or practices in other areas of the company?” all I can come up with is, “There are other areas? Who knew?”

I’m guessing this is not the response they’re looking for. But honestly, as long as the paper gets printed, the website gets webbed, the Facebook page gets faced, the Twitter account gets twitted and payroll manages to locate me on payday, how much do I need to know about these other departments?

The next section of the form deals with judgment and whether mine is the good kind. Do I show good judgment? I have four ex-wives. What do you think?

Then there’s the section that wants to know how decisive I am. I can’t even decide whether to lie on the self-evaluation form. Again, the answer seems self-evident.

The form also asks how I manage “delegation of duties.” I think they’re asking how often I try to push my work off on others. The answer is: Always. Sadly, my coworkers are generally too smart to allow this to happen.

Then there’s all the baloney about “cooperation” and “teamwork” and “conscientiousness” and so on. Basically, all the stuff I had to lie about a year ago to get the job in the first place.

Finally, at the end of the questionnaire there’s a formula for figuring your overall rating. The instructions read as follows: “Following the completion of all the ratings in section II, the manager should total the ratings and divide that total by the number of items rated. This becomes the Outputs Score. This score is then weighted by a factor of 7, for the Section Summary Rating.”

If I had 100 years and unlimited access to a Cray supercomputer, I still couldn’t figure this out. As I’ve mentioned here before, I hate math, and frankly, this formula sounds suspiciously like a “story problem,” which as you probably know, is all they have on the shelves of the library in Hell.

At any rate, on the actual evaluation form I did my best to be honest and I hope that doesn’t cost me my job. I really like it here. My coworkers rock, the boss is nice and the work is genuinely interesting.

I would hate to get canned.

After being a respected columnist, there’s no way I could go back to stripping.

Mike’s book, “Looking at the Pint Half Full” is available at Robbins Book List in Greenville and in eBook format at Amazon.com.

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