Earlier this week I had my annual review (“Performance Appraisal Report,” or “PAR,” in State Department parlance) with my supervisor. Granted, this is the government so I’m told there tends to be a fair amount of the equivalent of grade inflation, but even so I was very pleased that I received the highest possible rating (Outstanding: This is a level of exceptionally high-quality performance. The quality and quantity of the employee’s work substantially exceeds the fully successful standard and rarely leave room for improvement.) for each of my individual job elements and for my overall rating.
My boss and I also had a wonderful, honest and thought-provoking discussion about the highlights, successes and challenges of the past year, and about my expectations for 2004. I admitted that while I enjoy the environment in which I work, I’m really not sure where I want to be over the longer term, noting particularly that the current position doesn’t provide me any real intellectual or operational challenges; we agreed to work together to try to find ways to offer me greater challenge and opportunity, and she offered her understanding if, in the future, I realize that the Institute doesn’t have any growth opportunities that meet my wants and needs, and her support in identifying and pursuing opportunities that might, even if elsewhere. That’s the kind of manager I’ve always striven to be, and I appreciate it when I find it in my own supervisor. We’re very sympatico in that regard; she also came into government service relatively late in life, and doesn’t see it necessarily as a lifelong career, nor her responsibility to ensure that I spend my life as a paper-pusher. My previous supervisor here was somewhat the opposite: my first day on the job, he pulled me into his office to welcome me. Rather than the speech I expected about the quality of the workplace, or the breadth of my responsibilities, nor the congeniality of my peers, his first words to me were along the lines of “You’re a lucky young [sic] man to have gotten hired by the government at so high a level; now you’re set for life, because it’s almost impossible for them to fire you.” Now there’s an inspiring philosophy that makes me want to come into work and give my all day after day.