Venting About Performance Appraisals or Performance Review Gamesmanship

Okay, brief background: Live in Houston (which has low cost of living), make a shade over six figures and annual bonus is around $15K to $20K, had two miserable jobs prior to this one, good work/life balance. position is where I’ve been two years (credit analyst at integrated oil company), but have 10+ years experience.

Appraisal process: The way performance review basically works at this company is A, B+, B, B-, C.

  • “A” performer is basically model employee who does everything perfectly (the standard by which employees admire and consider a standard-bearer, but not necessarily emulate) of which only 5% to 10% are.
  • B" performer is somone who is performing to expectations, a good rating, and probably around 60-65% of employees with. The plus and minus meaning slightly exceeding and slightly below expectations and make up about 20%.
  • “C” performers are well below expectations and are about 5% or less and monitored more closely to bring up performance or may lose their jobs.

Anyway, during the first year my boss said I did good work and moved up the learning curve quickly, thus ensuring a B rating. Of course, he also said the onboarding process (training, learning company way, etc.) prevented a higher rating, but was happy with my work. I was happy with the B rating since it was realistic considering my time with the company.

In the second year, I had reasonably-sized portfolio and obtained some significant credit line increases. During the mid-year review, he said in order to get a higher rating I would have to take on additional projects. I took on multiple projects that I worked on in the second half of the year since I accelerated the credit reviews (still at a high quality) during the first half. He also was nice enough to send me to a conference during the second half of the year. At YE, he said I did good work and DESERVED a “B+” rating, but that there was only so many to give out and it would be a challenge during the calibration process (which he did not mentione during mid-year). After the calibration process, he also mentioned the portfolio prevented the higher rating – this was first mentioned at the CLOSING evaluation. All said and done, I received a “B” rating.

So now it’s time for the opening discussion of the current year responsibilities and I basically have the largest portfolio of about 30+ counterparties and $1.5B in credit exposure along with projects. I basically agreed to take on this portfolio because my predecessor, who actually had received a A (because my boss didn’t know any better), was fired for corporate credit card abuse. One project also includes dealing with a high-maintenance individual which has NO upside for completion and the individual acting like a WHINY BITCH as serious downside). What ticks me off is if I do all of this work and my peers who may have less than half the number of counterparties and significantly smaller dollar sized lines do their work and we both get B ratings.

I understand a manager has to deal with the needs of a variety of individuals (he has about 10 direct reports) as well as having to motivate employees, but there’s two things that tick me off:

  1. His moving the goalposts: He “dangles carrots in front of you just to pull it away” after the fact. This should seriously affect his credibility, but it won’t since he’s moving to another position in June so he’ll pull this type of bait-and-switch stuff with his new group (and probably did with his old group since he moves every 2 to 3 years).
  2. Why the heck should I do all this additional work just to get a “B” rating where if I did only half the work I would still get a “B” rating? As always in corporate America, unequal effort gets equal rewards.

If you want to call me a whiny little bitch, go ahead. I’m keeping track of my responsibilities and what I am doing against the work of others, but I’m almost prepared to have a blow-up at YE if I get another 2 rating considering the work on my desk.

I hate evaluations that you can’t quantify. There should be a number associated to every letter and if you hit that number you get that letter.

What happens if you get an A vs. B rating? Do you get paid more money, or does it just go into your “permanent record”?

In general, I think employers should give as many people as possible a high rating. This way, the employees feel valued and become more motivated.

Well, I’m meeting with my manager for a catch-up session on Thursday and wondering if I should bite my tongue or keep it real (a la Dave Chapelle) which I know I should not do based off the repercussions of that skit. I basically walked out my review meeting in disgust a minute after my B rating was broken down for me for 2013. I think the entire meeting lasted all of three minutes.

former trader: There are quantitative metrics in the PA for a more objective evaluation. Complete 50% of reviews by target date 1, complete 100% of reviews by target date 2, number and size of projects taken on and completed, etc.

ohai: NO ONE gets an A (consider that person 2 standard deviations above the mean). Basically, there’s room for evaluation to be move between B+, B, or B- and that will play both into your bonus and current year salary.

I think the first article does a good job of showing the dysfunction assocated with the ranking system and the stress managers go through.

I’m stil making more than 80% of the US and I think that outweighs the negatives of this company (large corporate bureacracy, lack of upward or lateral mobility to trading - ie. will be stuck in the job until I retire) so technically, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Still, I’m going to complain to you guys. What’s the point of taking on additional work if you get the same rating as a couple of other people who each have half a portfolio? Where’s the incentive? Where’s the credibility of the manager who says “hey, take your 9/80 on Monday so a co-worker who just started six weeks ago can have 9/80 on Friday with her husband and it will show you’re a team player and reflect in your ratings”? Where’s the balance of work when the manager does an alpha split and the person who has a half portfolio and the letter “C” and you still end up having to deal with pursuing a letter of credit for ChemChina instead of that lazy @$$? What is it with managers talking out of both sides of their mouth and say they are interested in helping you develop professionally and taking courses then change the subject or look up at the ceiling when you ask about the company expensing the CMT exam (which the trading manager said would be useful to move into that arena). I think I am the only employee last year who did not take any professional development courses (and I need them for my CPA/CFA).

I just want to tell the bosses I would have a lot more respect for them if they didn’t blow smoke up your ass AND LIE and trick you into working harder rather than saying “Work hard, you’re only going to get this, but be happy because it’s better than whatever else is out there”.

Thanks for your yearly reply.


Just noticed the dates and lol’d hard at this. Thanks.

These ratings systems exist simply to justify your shitty bonus, which is the exact same as everyone else’s shitty bonus. You work for a company that does not appear to care if you perform better than other employees. You are all special in your own way, except you’re not because you are all disposable, B-rated cogs in a giant machine. Every extra piece of the pie you generated has been syphoned upwards into the mouth of the CEO.

If you want to eat what you kill, go elsewhere. There is no changing the embedded HR systems of megacorporations, no matter how bad they are.

I can’t wait for his response in March 2015. I already put a notice in my outlook calendar to remind me to comeback to this thread.


LOL former trader

Look forward to the snarky, but useless comment, former trader.

Thanks stratman and studmuffin. Decreasing workload significantly. Hoping for a business analyst job there, so maybe it will pay off.

These posts are more about venting frustration since I can’t take it out on the boss more than making a sea change in the organization.

Former trader for the win!