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The Day Job – The Hard Truth (Evaluations Part 2)

Laughing-stock of the office

Okay, the coast is clear, come closer.

Let me tell you a secret, a bit of a hard truth about your evaluation that no one told me.

This one might be a bit controversial, and I’m sure it’s not what some people have ever heard or probably want to, but it’s at least worth thinking about. As usual, I’m not writing about any amazing epiphany, just something we sometimes need to be reminded of.

When it’s all said and done with the evaluation process, once your supervisor has learned to not be afraid of empty space, and after all the metric and merit, the managers have to get together and rank everyone. For us in the Navy, these rankings affect the next five years of placement, education, and promotion opportunities.

But what are you really being rated on? I’ve given this a lot of thought to figure out a way to make sense of it all, and I think I’ve finally got it.

Ready?

You’re being rated on how successful you’re making your immediate supervisor or manager. Like I said, not a popular statement, but hear me out.

Your boss has goals, and each manager has a role to play. If five managers are each doing their part, their success affects the boss and the organization. If, of the five people at that table, your manager is the most successful and brings the best results to the boss, then that manager’s people will get better rankings than the other four. This isn’t a popularity contest, nor is it about cliques. If your manager has the best measurable results, then the information in your evaluation, your contribution to those good results, has the most easily recognizable content.

When people are writing your evaluation, they are thinking of their own, their successes, and your part in them. Whether you like the managers or not, specifically if you don’t, and regardless if you think you know more than they do, that doesn’t change the fact that their success, up the chain of command, is your success.

If you didn’t actively contribute to your manager’s success, then on what grounds can she write you that glowing evaluation? If your supervisor is viewed as a clown in the meetings and the butt of most jokes at the senior level, then what credibility does he have to make you look good?

Here’s an example: The boss comes down and asks your manager a question. The manager doesn’t know the answer but you do. How do you handle it? The right decision is to spend some time with that manager and share what you know.

Sometimes, when you have some pent-up frustrations, there’s a temptation to keep that knowledge to yourself, watch the manager struggle, and slow down the process that may or may not result in the manager getting information to the boss. Often with new managers, we don’t commit early enough to making them successful, which starts things down a negative path that can affect a number of careers, specifically yours.

Remember, if your manager is successful, then the people who are a part of that become successful. The faster the manager delivers the right information and meets deadlines, the better he or she can later fight the good fight for your evaluation.

Taking things a little further, I’ll say that the most effective way to make the people under you successful is to make the people above you successful and include those junior people in the process when you can. In doing that, when your manager has three people in your position all submitting evaluations, you’re also doing the best you can for the people below you since you know what successes to put in the limited space available.

Maybe the person you rely on has an answer the person above you needs. If that information gets the manager to the boss with the right recommendations faster, then everyone wins later when the evaluations are due.

Now, you might be saying: “But I’m the president of the such-and-such association!”
Yes, and that’s important, but is your performance in that making your supervisor successful? If not, then it shouldn’t take up an excess of your time.

Likewise, if you raised all sorts of money for a committee by selling your famous cookies, I ask again if that fundraising is making your manager immediately successful in handling tasks from on high. I love cookies, but not as much as you being successful.

Like it or not, your manager isn’t graded on how well you make cookies, and neither are you. You are graded on how well your manager delivers results to the boss.

Here are some questions we all need to ask ourselves sooner or later:

1. Are the tasks I’m devoting the majority of my time to directly linked to making my immediate supervisor successful?

2. Do I know what will make my manager successful, the deliverables and due dates, and am I doing everything I can to make everyone above and below me successful?

And here’s my favorite:

3.  What am I good at, and how can I use it to make the people above me successful?

Have a great week out there.

– JT

My good thing: Had a fun day and barbecue today that wrapped up before temps got too far above 100 degrees.

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1 Response

  1. May 29, 2014

    […] Here’s the secret no one told me: Like it or not, you are graded on how well your manager delivers results to the boss.  […]

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Thanks

JT