Exemplify the corporate values.
November 7, 2012 2:24 AM   Subscribe

I need your help to overcome a creative writing block. I have to complete an annual review, and it is the most infuriating, difficult task imaginable. What guidance or motivation can you offer?

I've managed to list some sort of achievement for my 24 objectives set last year. That bit is mostly fine, but now I have to state how, in achieving these achievements I have made positive contributions to the values of the company and what areas for improvement I have.
I just cannot engage with this in anyway. How have I shown Teamwork or Respect or Determination this year?
posted by Just this guy, y'know to Work & Money (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
How about drafting it up as sarcastically and ridiculously as you possibly can? Enjoy satirising the hell out of it. Then revise by taking all the sarcasm out. It's sometimes easier to revise something terrible and inappropriate that is already there than to start from scratch.
posted by lollusc at 2:42 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Draw a picture and then describe it?
posted by Magnakai at 2:49 AM on November 7, 2012

Two things I've found helpful - one is to pretend I'm writing about someone else as that reduces my embarrasment about talking up my own achievements. The other is that I often pick a value and then trawl my emails for examples of where I showed it. With a concrete example to hand its then much easier to write about.
posted by crocomancer at 2:55 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Teamwork = any time you've done something that wasn't strictly your responsibility, eg picking up slack due to colleagues being ill, or too busy, or overwhelmed or unsure, or getting your task done ahead of schedule because you knew it would better enable a colleague to complete a related activity on time, or you ran out for pizza that time everyone had to work past dinner.

Determination = any element of tenacity - eg, emails ignored so you picked up phone/visited person's office/sent carrier pidgeon to keep a project or activity afloat, or completed some self-directed fact-finding to unglue a sticky situation.

Respect = making your work environment a pleasant and productive place to work, eg your emails are always timely and clear, you apologised after being wrong that time and worked to rectify any resulting issues, you effectively handled a difficult colleague/customer by listening to their issue rather than ignoring the call and so on.

On finding specific examples: do you have any friendly colleagues you can go to lunch with? You could rack eachother's brains for events that exemplify the above. If that's not an appealing prospect you could try thinking about examples from other people's actions in general, and see if that stimulates any thoughts about your own actions.

Areas for improvement: specific times you failed to do the above and can a) see how a better way is possible, b) identify how to do rthat next time (eg by taking a deep breath, or sourcing a training opportunity, or asking for feedback).

Good luck!
posted by freya_lamb at 5:29 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh how I hate this shit! I really feel for you!

What you need is something quanitfiable. Once you identify that, then you can put the garbage around it.

So here are some things that are quantifiable:

Reducing the time it takes to do something.
Increasing the output of something by X percent.
Increasing the number of dollars (through sales or savings) in the budget.
Increasing the number of widgets produced.
Increasing customer satisfaction by X percent as validated by survey (or whatever measure they use for that bit of nonsense)
Speeding up a process

Don't be afraid to use the same one over again.

Teamwork: By putting the Frammistany form on-line, I enabled the team to reduce the time from order to shipping by .5 days.

Respect: By organizing the Customer Conference around the theme of "Pulling Together" our implementation team had the conference organized and ready one-day early. The conference was the largest attended to date with X number of customers registering.

Stuff like that.

After you're done, enjoy a nice cocktail.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:31 AM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Maybe you need to get away from the computer, your desk and the constraints of the form/format. Sometimes things will come organically that can't be found when working linearly. Take a pad of paper, your favorite writing implement and a beverage/snack and head to a pleasant spot. Write "Teamwork," "Respect" and "Determination" in wonky angles somewhere on the paper: you're making a mind map, not an outline. Begin free associating. Still stuck? Try pretending that you're someone else brainstorming your review or that you are brainstorming a review for a promising colleague who you've been mentoring. Draw lines connecting the three when appropriate. Eventually you'll feel like you're done and ready to return to your computer and convert these scribbles into prose. Good luck!
posted by carmicha at 6:04 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the "areas for improvement/future goals" type of section - my father once told me that the magic words for writing that kind of shit are, "...continue to....".

And I sympathize. You may be amused by this - a guy whose blog I've followed was an office admin for a long time and was complaining about writing a similar job review, and had to come up with a "future improvement" statement for each of his tasks - he said he was very tempted to write the following - "Filing: I believe I have reached the apex of possible accomplishment in terms of filing papers."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:33 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ugh. I've had to do those too. Horrible time sucks. The only way I got through it was by ignoring the arbitrary categories at first. For example:

- Sit down with a blank sheet of paper (or screen) and think of everything that you've done last year that can be considered any kind of accomplishment or achievement or in any way furthered the company's goals - organized an event, got a project done, wrote a report, made a cup of coffee for someone, identified a candidate for an open job and forwarded the email to recruiting, shared an article vaguely related to your company as an FYI to your colleagues, etc.

- Don't worry right now about what these examples "demonstrate". Just list stuff. As many actions as you can come up with.

- Then scroll through your emails and documents on your computer to remind you of other things.

- Then start to match the stuff you did to these "indicators", as creatively as possible. Forwarding that email to colleagues is "teamwork"; including those who report to you on the email is "mentoring". Don't hesitate to attach several "values" to each action. Treat the whole thing as a creative writing exercise.

- Edit for reasonableness and show it to someone else, like a spouse or close friend, not someone in the same company, to see if it passes a basic bullshit test.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:09 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oof. I feel for you.

Most HR related things are cringeworthy. Basically you need a bucketful of verbs: you leverage, facilitate, coordinate, support, develop, create, grow, learn, teach...and you need to know what the values/objectives of the company actually are (make the world safe for democracy/increase sales/develop new markets/develop the best coffee cup lid in the nation/increase brand recognition).

If you don't know the company's objectives, that's kind of a problem at the company.

And any time you can use a specific percentage or number (decreased average time to ship by six hours, increased traffic by 16%, reduced errors by 6%) it adds credibility and if you don't have the stomach for both that and using the word 'leverage' definitely err on the side of backing up your achievements with numbers.

And then for your future goals or improvements you'll probably want to 'continue to develop' some skill or talent or ability.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:15 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh dear lord do I feel for you. I haaaate this shit.

This won't help this year, but looking ahead to next time: start keeping a "props" or "kudos" folder. Every time someone emails to thank you for something you did, every time you get praise, every time you get interviewed for the company newsletter about bike to work month (or whatever), toss a copy into that folder. The next time you need to do your review, you can look back through it for reminders of what you did and who appreciated it. Then finding a way to spin that into corporate-speak is relatively easy, or at least can be turned into a cynically-amusing exercise doing so — the article about bike to work month? You were helping to promote the company's wellness initiatives!
posted by Lexica at 7:01 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much!

This thread has made me feel much better about the whole thing.
I'm nearly done with it and the accompanying despair and misery it creates. Although two of my four "values" have been rejected by my boss, so I guess I get another day of it.

I'm gonna print this thread out somewhere and keep it in my evaluations folder so every time I have to do this I can start out by reading it.

Anyway, time to continue to develop my ability to demonstrate values. VALUES!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:00 AM on November 8, 2012

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