I want you to get rid of the idea that you have to work hard in order to get a good review. I have gotten my worst reviews ever when I was busting ass, working 12+ hour days, fixing code that no one else understood, turning in projects and closing out tasks left and right, making a ton of progress. And conversely, I have gotten my best reviews when I was hardly doing anything at all! In fact, at one job, I had only been there for 3 months and I literally hadn’t done anything yet, and my manager pulled me aside and gave me a glowing review, a large raise, and told me I was doing a fantastic job!
Getting a good review is not about getting work done; it’s about giving off the perception that you’re getting work done. The genius programmer who writes and maintains the software that functions as the backbone for the entire company, and as such spends nearly all his time at his desk working, will get bad reviews, no raises, and be threatened with “performance plans” and other such forms of intimidation. Meanwhile, the slacker who doesn’t do much work but goes around high-fiving everyone and plays grab-ass with all his buddies at happy hour will get brilliant reviews, raises, and promotions.
Here is a short guide I have put together for you to help you get the best reviews possible:
1. Spend a lot of time at other people’s desks. This lets everyone, including management, know that you are a “people person,” a good “team player,” and that people like you. It also gives the impression that you are working with other team members on important issues. It is very important, however, that you never smile or laugh while at a coworker’s desk. If people see you smiling or laughing, they will assume you are goofing off rather than being a good employee. Now, you might think, “but how can I get my own work done if I am spending time at other people’s desks?” And you would be correct; you can’t. But remember, it’s not about getting work done. It’s about looking like you’re getting work done. The astute reader might also wonder, “if I’m spending time at other people’s desks, won’t I also be preventing them from getting their work done?” And again, the answer is “yes.” But not to worry, because chances are that person doesn’t mind staying late, anyway.
2. Ask a lot of questions in meetings. Nothing says “I’m involved” like asking questions in meetings. Even if you already understand everything, ask questions anyway. If you can’t think of any relevant questions, ask a completely unrelated question. Your manager will think you are a great employee for being so involved and looking at the big picture. It is important that after you ask the question, to have a stumped and/or concerned expression on your face. It is imperative that you don’t smirk or giggle. I recommend practicing asking stupid questions with a straight face at home so your performance is flawless when you do it for real during meetings.
3. Go to happy hour. Nothing shows company and team loyalty like consciously choosing to spend your free time with your team. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Your managers will see what an amazing employee you are and give you the raise you deserve!
You may have noticed that none of those involved doing any work. Leave the work for the hard working desk jockeys who are going to get bad reviews, anyway. Besides, it’s hard for you to get actual work done when you’re so busy working on your perception of being a good employee.