Nearly every company has a reward system that they can’t spell out. Often they’re not even aware of what they’re doing.
Here are some questions to assess your boss’s agenda. Never ask these questions aloud. But listen for what your coworkers say…and don’t say.
Does your company value sales and marketing more than support, tech, or R&D?
Nearly every company has an “in” group or skill. These groups get the promotions and rewards. A volume-driven manufacturer, for instance, might reward the cost accountants. A consumer products company may favor the brand managers.
Find out how others in your own group have fared in terms of promotion and career growth. If you’re not in a valued group, your rewards will almost always be lower.
How does your company value “newbies?”
In some organizations, when you’re new, everyone expects you to perform badly and/or learn slowly. For instance, an experienced professor at “Bluesky College” once told me, “New professors always have trouble here. They get low ratings from their students.”
What was really going on? There are many ways a new professor can be sabotaged by a department head or dean.When an administrator tells the students, in good faith, “Professor X is new so don’t expect him to do a good job,” X’s performance will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Are you being programmed for non-success?
If you’ve been working more than five years, you’re probably not surprised to learn that you can be set up to fail, no matter how hard you try. It’s relatively rare but you need to be prepared.
Tom’s boss said, “We want you to revitalize this product line.”
After considerable work, Tom managed to increase sales of a dying product.
He was horrified to receive a “Below Average” evaluation. His company maintained the line as a loss leader. They wanted a caretaker, not a manager, although they’d never admit it.
Angela was hired “to raise standards and prestige” of a private college’s academic program. She soon realized the school needed money and she would be rewarded for increasing the number of tuition-paying students, even if standards declined.
Tom and Angela must decide whether to support these informal goals or seek jobs that will be better suited to their values and skills.
Recently I’ve gotten a number of queries about dealing with performance reviews. If you’re puzzled by your own, or want to plan for the best outcome, I’d encourage you to consider setting up a consultation.