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Performance Review by Santa

Recent headlines prompted me to think about annual performance reviews.  For those in the public sector, the impression is given that these are the Carlsberg of work experiences, probably the best………  (you know the rest).  For the private sector, feelings may be a bit more problematic.

I wondered what Santa would make of it all?  Is he the manager or the employee?  Consider this:

  • He’s making a list
  • He’s checking it twice
  • He’s gonna decide who’s naughty and nice…… mmmmmm looks like he’s the boss.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t anticipate our annual performance review with child-like enthusiasm.  Often, our perceptions range from it being a necessary evil to sheer dread.  I’m not implying that all managers are ill-intentioned, but why do so many treat the performance review as an annual beating of the lower orders?   Perhaps they simply don’t get it.  Maybe it’s a variation on the review they get themselves.

My theory is that many managers see the annual performance review as a chore to be ticked off their task list, rather than an opportunity to critically assess how the team is performing, and lay out clear (and reasonable) expectations for the future.

Dear Santa,
this year, I really tried very hard.  I know sometimes you thought I was bold, but I didn’t mean to be, and it wasn’t always my fault.  I promise to be very, very good from now on.  Please, please, Santa – This year, what I’d really like for Christmas is:

  • Can I keep my job for another year?
  • Will you pay my bonus (I haven’t had one in a long time)?
  • Our defined-benefit pension scheme closed, but do you think we could replace the disposable teaspoons in the canteen so we don’t have to re-use the old ones?
  • The new software system is brilliant – could I get training on how to use it?
  • Your new executive sleigh looks great – how about some swivel chairs that don’t sink when you sit in them?
  • When you have time, could you let everyone know how the company is doing?  We don’t really know what’s going on, and it gets very confusing.

Oh yes, because all the other boys and girls are looking for things too, I understand that you mightn’t be able to give me everything I want, so if you can’t satisfy my wish list, I’d love a nice surprise.

Best Wishes,

Tiny Tim

Dear Tiny Tim,
I was really moved by your letter. It’s been a tough year for me too.   I’ve had a few problems of my own, but I have to say a lot of them were caused by you.  You moaned all year, told everyone else why we didn’t need a new system, and that it wouldn’t work anyway.  I didn’t get a bonus either, and the only reason I got a new sleigh was that you backed your forklift into the old one.

Since you met all your Key Performance Indicators for this year, they mustn’t have been set sufficiently high for a man of your grade (it doesn’t matter that I set them myself).

Here are your performance improvement objectives for next year:

  1. Work harder, longer, smarter.
  2. Stop stirring discontent among the team.
  3. Do what you’re told.
  4. Don’t ask questions.
  5. Impress me by doing something fantastic that I can take credit for, and when you’ve done that, do something better.

You’re right about all the other boys and girls wanting stuff, so I’m going to grant your wish for a surprise.  I’m moving you on to SPECIAL PROJECTS from Monday. (You’ll thank me afterwards!)

Happy Christmas,


If you’re sitting on Santa’s side of the desk, consider the other person’s point of view.  If you’re just going through the motions to get HR off your case, remember what it’s like when you’re experiencing your own performance review.  The review may not be all sweetness and light, but try to show a bit of respect for your ‘victim’.  And if you just can’t bring yourself to be that considerate, then Bah Humbug to you!

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