Monday, February 20, 2012

Only words

My best friend is an interesting case in that he speaks fluidly and expansively but he simply cannot write. Something happens when he takes pen in hand or places his fingers on the home row: He freezes.

So this is a tough time of year for him, for he has to complete his annual performance self-assessment. He is certain that "they" are unhappy with how he handles his clients on a day-to-day basis and maintains that his last review was "horrible." (It wasn't; he asked me to read it and it wasn't that negative. It just smacked of bosses looking for a reason not to give him much of a salary increase.)

Anyway, he turned to me for help. Which is goofy because I haven't worked in double harness with him for years. But on the other hand, I used to be a boss so this is a language that comes easily to me. So I trotted out all those phrases. Here's my favorite: "My creative/critical thinking allows me to successfully identify problems that can have long-range implications for deadlines and budgets, which reduces the need for crisis management."

HR reps and bosses lap that language up like a kitten with a saucer of milk, because it gives back to them all the crap phrase they give their employees. But the question becomes: What's the value? It's purely a word game. If I can write the review for someone who works for a company I have never stepped foot into, how valid is this process? This looking over the past four quarters, recalling our triumphs and searching our souls for our goals and objectives to help us improve in the future and grow the business is nonsense.

We're all still Tony Manero at the paint store, asking for a raise every week and being thrilled and delighted when the boss unexpectedly comes through. Because we're white collar, we like to pretend it's more sophisticated than that. But it ain't.

I'm reasonably certain this is the one and only time anyone has compared my best friend to John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He was upset recently when his two young daughters, discovering Friends through a Nick@Nite marathon, told him they decided nerdy Ross was based on him.

1 comment:

  1. It's too funny that Ross is based on your Best Friend. According to his kids.