Here’s what’s amusing about the perception of performance reviews: These performance reviews will make you feel super average. They will make you feel as if you are nowhere near the high performing employee you think management and the organization need. However, I bet if you took your talents elsewhere, they would freak and try to offer a competitive package to get you to stay! That’s one way to define your value to your team, is it not? How would your department perform if you quit? Who do they count on to complete “special assignments?” If the answer is you, than there’s a glaring disconnect between your value to the organization and how they reflect that in their ratings.

Management will keep you at an average level, KNOWING you are worth more. They’ll give you the same talking points for improving yourself, but it won’t translate to your rating or your paycheck. Performance reviews become Groundhog Day after a while. You truly luck-up if you have a manager/H.R. representative who LIKES you and REALLY wants you to succeed. They will “pull you through” and rate you well, or at the very most rate you what you truly deserve.

I’ve left jobs for places that offered more growth and better pay, and then once I was immersed in the new Corporate culture, I realized that the same politics were in place. The pay raise or change of scenery doesn’t make it less frustrating for those who want recognition for their work. You’ll have some managers who only accentuate “improvement areas” while highlighting your strengths as an afterthought.

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This is the Corporate culture in 2014. We are not our parent’s generation (on average) of staying at one job until retirement. We work for 2 years, reevaluate, and take our talents where they’ll be appreciated (and better compensated), until the cycle repeats. The best advice I could offer is to meet with your supervisor, make CLEAR from the beginningWHAT it will take to get X rating, set up touch points throughout the performance cycle and monitor consistently. If you perform those tasks, and they are in agreement, there’s logically no way they can justify baselining you. If they do, then you know it’s either time to escalate to someone higher in the company who can better arbitrate this situation, or that it’s time to find a new job. If you’re a first year Corporate employee, unless you literally change the game (like make the company millions of dollars), you’re getting baselined. Don’t worry about that. Just make sure to avoid going below the baseline. You never want to hear the term “PIP” and you name uttered in the same sentence. Aim for the baseline or higher. Don’t give anyone a reason to demote you.