When your best is not quite enough

'Just performing'

I am one of those sad people who always looked forward to exam results, hoping that my hard work would have paid off and that my best efforts had been recognised. I sailed through school collecting certificates, nabbed a first class degree at university and passed my driving test first time. Sorry- I’m one of those cretins. Suddenly, however, the rug has been pulled (for the second time running) from under my feet at my current job, which is not exactly a graduate position… (yes alright- now you can be more smug- things clearly started to go downhill in the ‘recognised achievement’ stakes post uni).

Following performance reviews at my current job, I find myself quite deflated, trying not to care (because as Mr Arblaster always said, ‘you can only do your best’) about the fact that I put in 100% effort and again received the word ‘performing’ which, let’s face it, is synonymous with ‘satisfactory’ (although I suppose it’s pretty apt given the amount of multi-tasking, bright smiling, link-selling, running about carrying large packages ETC that I do. It’d be a pretty hilarious performance if watched in time lapse). Yes, I agree, I am performing.  But I’m performing to the best of my ability, I’m going above and beyond the call of duty. I didn’t have to contribute the ideas I had for improvements. I didn’t need to help all those customers find things in other areas as if I’m some sort of expert on electric beard trimmers or powder brushes, or single-handedly hold my whole section numerous times. I think that when sales figures have been great since you started work there, customer reviews have always been high quality and almost every box in the top category can be ticked, it’s a bit of a slap in the face to be given the word ‘performing’.

The problem is that I care personally- that I have to make sure customers are happy and not just for store figures and good review forms. I think that’s a large part of what got me the job in the first place, but to say that’s just what I should do anyway subtracts from it. It’s just modifying the dial to go to 11. I do my best, and when it’s not recognised it hurts. If I’m not mistaken, the mood amongst my ‘performing’ colleagues (that’s everyone in my section at least- call us a performance troupe if you will) was one of dejection and downheartedness. I don’t think the standard of service immediately after that review was nearly as good as it would have been had we not all been given the ‘well tried’ sticker whilst having golden ‘winner’ rosettes waved under our noses.

Rant aside, the lesson is this: whether you’re a small business or a giant corporation, giving your staff praise will only improve things. If they’re doing their genuine best (which frankly is bloody brilliant- how many work forces are doing that?) then recognise that. It doesn’t have to be monetary. If you don’t think I’m in the top category because I haven’t been standing on my head whilst doling out medical advice then that’s absolutely fine, but I’m better than performing. There’s a very big jump between the words ‘performing’ and ‘perfect’ (not quite the word they use but I don’t want to specifically indemnify the company since I doubt it’s a rare thing), and as I’ve said in both my reviews, we need another category in between. It’s a simple problem of lexis but it can do so much damage. I am not just performing, so please don’t put that word by my name (or I will start turning up at work in a spangly leotard to do cartwheels along the tills). 

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