Further Evaluation

From the Where-Do-You-Get-Your-Ideas Department: When I was a young man, I worked as a cartoonist and artist for a small metropolitan daily newspaper. In accordance with my standing on the staff, I was relegated to a back corner of the newsroom. My “desk” was an old-fashioned drawing board that was an antique then. It perched upon a single cast-iron column that must’ve weighed 100 pounds. I wish I had that drawing board today. My position was immediately outside the door of a glass cubicle that was the office of the managing editor. One day, the managing editor summoned a young reporter. The summoned was a friend of mine, an excellent journalist and one of the nicest fellows you could ever hope to meet. He also was a dedicated runner. He would go for long runs in the morning and come directly to work. I could not help overhearing the managing editor as he delicately asked my friend to literally clean up his act. It was a very uncomfortable conversation to pretend not to hear.

14 thoughts on “Further Evaluation”

  1. I walk at lunch and fortunately have not had someone give me that “talk” yet. At Ford, I had a desk there 20 years ago and would run at lunch, but fortunately they had showers. One day an engineer, who is still a good friend, and I were getting dressed and he introduced me to his boss. The boss told me “Normally our suppliers take our Engineers to lunch rather than run 5 miles with them!” Ironically we rarely had lunch together.

  2. I agree with Arlo that you should be able to plead the fifth. Most of the time what it would take to improve your work is something that needs to be done above your paygrade. Telling this to the reviewer doesn’t help, because upper management only wants to know what’s wrong with you, and not to fix what’s wrong with the way the system works (or not).

    Jimmy, guess your friend didn’t pay attention to the saying that goes “never let them see you sweat.”.

    • Any former colleague who happens upon this post will know whom I am talking about, but obviously I don’t want to identify him by name. I will say, his passion for running endured, and he died within the past year, while running a marathon. It was sad news to all who knew him.

  3. At my former place of employment, the evaluation was called PMP, which I claimed meant “Pimp My Paycheck”. You had to make claims about your performance to your supervisor, to give him/her reasons to rank you against fellow employees to distribute raises. This method merely ranked you according to your ability to inflate the claims of your performance, rather than actual performance. I also felt that it relieved the supervisor of the responsibility of knowing what the heck you were doing and how well you were doing it.

  4. JJ, I have a large drawing board gathering dust in my basement. You can have it for the taking. No idea of weight, but it is a monster. Send around a crew – you can probably find one, near here, from your place via the interwebnetsystem.

    • Thank you. That’s tempting. I actually am in the process of shifting and upgrading some of the physical facilities around here. Sometimes, I think I could use a dedicated drawing board. For years, I’ve worked at a table top or a desk, on a small portable drawing board. Maybe if I had a real drawing board, I’d feel like a real cartoonist!

    • My brother loved to draw and had thoughts of being an architect. My parents somehow got a hold of a drawing board that my brother took with him when he moved out of the house. I think he still had it until he moved to Arizona a couple of years ago. I will have to ask if he still has it. I really think that it would help inspire, if only for a short while.

  5. WARNING This is a long and boring comment so you may want to stop here. In my career evaluations were a big joke. They had already decided where you ranked on the “bell curve” and how much your raise be. The evaluation had to fit those parameters. One time they tried having the employees do their own evaluation. Of course they also did one and guess which one was kept.
    But, I have to say giving evaluations was a lot harder than receiving them. I once had to tell a very close friend she was not getting the “very good” rating she was expecting, and which she rightly deserved. She had a slightly edgy manner and the powers above me didn’t like it. Mind you, it didn’t really affect her job performance, it just put off my superiors and I was ordered to tell her about it and downgrade her rating. She cried when I told her, and of course I wasn’t allowed to tell her it came from on high so she blamed me.

  6. Try working for the Federal government where they have to justify incompetence with undeserved ratings. And competence devalued.

    Oh, you read the news? I don’t.

  7. Back in the early days of my teaching career, the principal spent an entire class period watching the class take a test.

    He knew as well as I did that evaluations were a waste of time – unless they wanted to fire someone.

  8. Teacher evaluations are both a farce and a can of worms. Unfortunately, the only worthwhile ones are from alums 20+ years later. One of our BSU grads has done well as a research zoologist, teacher of mammalogy and other courses, text coauthor, and dean at a major mid-W university. At an Am. Soc. of Mammalogists annual mtg some years ago, he was talking w/ colleagues at a social break, and introduced me to one of his grad students. The student, in amazement said, “You’re EMB!?” Gratifying.
    Peace,

  9. Luckily we do have showers at our office, even so, some coworkers who commune by bicycle will not always take a shower before work. And some (myself included) will take their bike clothes to the workplace. (I do have a window and separate room, so it can air out, haven’t had complaints yet). Used to have a coworker share my room, he used a vast amount of aftershave, so that when he had been in the room the previous day, i could still smell that the next day. Horrible….

  10. When I was a young man, I sat in the same bullpen office where, legend had it, Kurt Vonnegut had plied his skills as a technical writer. His desk was never used by anyone, but neither was it acknowledged with any kind of a plaque or certificate. Each new employee was told of its special place in history; nothing more. For the record, it was on the second floor of Building 23 of the GE Schenectady Works.

Leave a Comment