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Once again, annual appraisal does not go very well

Well, I’m sure I can remember making a near identical post this time last year. I’ve just had my annual appraisal at work, and although I suppose it was nothing negative overall, the areas for development are: “You’re not putting yourself OUT THERE! You’re not planning and organising things…”

To be honest, I have absolutely zero interest, any more, in putting myself “out there”, or planning and organising anything. I didn’t know how frank I ought to be that I’m not interested in this, and I don’t know how reasonable it is to always blame my health.

Realistically, I just want well-defined tasks I can get on and do. I don’t want to be constantly striving to make a name for myself, or get noticed in the right circles - I don’t have the motivation for all that. I know it’s not good form to say you’re no longer interested in career development; you consider it fortunate still to have a job at all, but that’s how I feel. I find it utterly pointless to have a discussion about my path to a promotion I know I will never want.

On the other hand, I know my boss is being absolutely politically correct by NOT making the assumption career progression is irrelevant, to someone with MS. Should I have said: “Look, it’s very kind of you, but the reality is I’m not interested, and it’s never gonna happen”? Or is that complete suicide? Do I need to keep up the pretence of being hungry and ambitious, to have any future with the company at all? Even if the truth is that you know you’ve gone as far as you can go, and you’re only still doing the job at all because it’s better than ESA, it’s obviously not acceptable to say this.

I feel very glum, and wonder if I wouldn’t be better off (albeit not financially) just resigning. I think I’ve done well just to survive another year at work without missing any deadlines or screwing up anything big-time. My boss thinks I haven’t done well, because I’m not exhibiting dynamism or proactivity. /Yawn.

Ho hum…

Tina

Hi Tina, I think you’ve done great, keeping up a full time job as well as coping with ms, you should be proud of yourself. Mabe you could just say you would not like to move up the ladder or take on any more as you wouldn’t want to let them down if it was to much for you. Julsiexx

Thanks very much Julsie.

I did mention that I’m hesitant about putting myself forward for things, because I worry about letting people down.

It’s bad enough if you struggle at work, but even worse if you’ve actively volunteered for something you don’t complete.

I don’t want to get a reputation as someone who’s always pushing themselves forward, but then doesn’t deliver. To me, that’s worse than saying no in the first place, because you’ve created the expectation you’ll take care of it.

It’s all getting very political these days, with everyone having to justify their worth to the company. I suppose my boss is only trying to help, but my heart just isn’t in it.

I’ve never been a pushy self-promoter. I don’t understand why doing your job patiently and unobtrusively isn’t enough, these days. You’re supposed to go round bragging all the time as well, which wasn’t really my scene when I was well, let alone now. I just want to be left alone to get on with my work at my own pace.

I don’t want to develop bl**dy “leadership skills”, or promote myself as a “mover and shaker”.

I know I should be grateful, in one way, that I’m being appraised AS IF I wasn’t ill, and being encouraged to climb the greasy pole. But I’m thinking: “Oh heck, why would I want to? Can’t they just leave me alone?”

Tina

xx

Thanks Anon,

I don’t think I’m ready to quit yet. But at the same time, I don’t really want new challenges, and so-called “development opportunities” - which all sound like one thing: STRESS.

I hope I will know when it’s time to call it a day. But in the short term, I wish I could find a way to tactfully decline “career development”, without sounding like a total lame duck.

Tina

Hmmm, good for you! Interesting slant on things. I wonder if there’s a possibility it’s the job, and not me?

Or would MS make me feel this way in any job? I don’t know how old you are, but at 46, and now with chronic ill-health, I don’t realistically think I’ll be working anywhere else now.

About ten years ago, I did take a degree and postgrad qualifications in a completely unrelated field to the one I work in now. But I’ve never, ever used them. With hindsight, I think part of the reason I didn’t embark on a new career then, was I was already beginning to get ill. I was losing energy, and losing confidence, and opted to stick with the devil I knew. My employers had always promised to keep my job open for me - which they honoured. But perhaps it might have been better if I’d burned my boats with them, because it would have forced a change.

It’s much too late to use the academic qualifications now, with a 10-year gap and no relevant practical experience.

I don’t know whether I’d be up to studying yet another new thing, or not. There’s a risk I’d qualify but then drop it, just like the earlier subjects.

Tina

xx

I think it’s reasonable to say to your boss that AT THE MOMENT you don’t feel you can take on the comnitment of ‘getting out there and organising things’ more than you currently do.

Make sure that you say it’s how you feel NOW, and you don’t want to take on more and let everyone down if you don’t deliver. But leave the door open to change your mind, and make sure you can take the pressure off yourself at work.

Does that make sense? It does in my head! Basically it shows your planning and organising things! And that you don’t want to start mucking up at work. You can always scale up which is much better than crashing down like I have done.

I have done what you’ve done - I worked for years in a lab for years then jumped ship to study IT. Eventually went from Pharmaceutical Analyst with a BSc to Software Test Analyst with an MSc. But I know what you mean about “where do I go now?!?”.

You need something that you are interested in and that challenges you - but sometimes the challenge is too much to deal with isn’t it? I can’t concentrate much these days, so I’m very limited in what I can do challenge-wise.

I am waiting to pick up my doctor’s ‘permission slip’ for the MS Therapy Centre so I can start using the Therapy centre at Bradley Stoke. I’ll let you know how I get on so you can get some soothing therapy! Which can’t be bad, and is hopefully something to look forward to.

Hi Tina, well I also think you have done very well to hold down a full time job as well as having MS and also well done on your degree and postgrad qualification even if you have never used it. I’ve also never done a days work using my degree! Tina, if it’s any consolation I also have no interest in career development, not at 42 with ms, not sure if I would anyway tbh but I agree with you that you are not really meant to say that! I don’t think you should resign either, not without thinking about it very seriously anyway and evaluating what else you would do. I am also glad just to have a job and hope to carry on as long as possible but I dont want any career development. I do a fine, busy job but that’s all I want and it sounds like you are the same. I do remember you saying this this time last year and I think you are right about your boss not mentioning ms which as you say, is politically correct. Perhaps they feel they shouldnt mention it, mine didn’t either earn I was at a review, despite the fact I turned up to the meeting ( in an office quite far from my own) in the wheelchair! Please don’t be glum you are doing a brilliant job, in not ideal (you have ms after all) circumstances and I don’t think you should take any notice of what was said.

Thanks Ellen,

Yeah, I see you can relate.

I want something “interesting”, but if it’s too damn “interesting”, I can’t cope! So Catch-22. :frowning:

I seem to be stuck in the same old rut because it’s safe, and I can cope with it - and it pays the bills of course.

My boss is moving to pastures new (within the same company) at the end of the month. I’m not sure who I’ll end up reporting to, but it might bring a whole new perspective.

For all his attempts to be sensitive, and “do the right thing”, I’m not sure my boss has any idea how badly pain and fatigue affect me on a daily basis, and that “new challenge” is not really a phrase I want to hear in connection with work. I think I’ve got plenty of new challenge - most of it an unwanted kind - without putting my name down for more at work.

Another issue that cropped up was I didn’t get through the targeted volume of work, but neither did I come to him with any problem. I’m not sure what problem I should have gone to him with. I just didn’t get motivated enough to do it - partly because I usually feel ill, and partly because it was boring. I really didn’t care enough about doing it, just to fulfil a quota. But obviously, I couldn’t go to him and say: “This work is tedious, and I really just couldn’t get round to it”. What problem should I have gone to him with? I think it is health-related, in that MS saps your energy and motivation. But I don’t think he understands that. I couldn’t go to him and say I’d hit a problem with the work, and I couldn’t point to any specific physical obstacle that was stopping me (hand not working, eyesight not right, or whatever). MS is just draining me generally. But if I was asked to explain in detail why I didn’t complete the work, I wouldn’t be able to.

I hope you like the Therapy Centre - when you finally get to go.

As well as waiting two weeks for a GP appointment, I’ve also waited over ten days for a repeat prescription. The pharmacy say they’ve been up there three times to collect it for me. The first twice it wasn’t done, and the third time, they were assured it was done, but for some mysterious reason, it still wasn’t available to collect. I’m panicking now, because I have less than three days baclofen left, even though I ordered in good time.

If this is how they respond to essential prescriptions, goodness knows how long they’d take to sign the approval for the Therapy Centre!

I never did get the promised info pack in the post, by the way (I thought right from the start I wouldn’t - isn’t it funny how you get a sixth sense?) But I’m sure it contains nothing that isn’t already on the website anyway.

Good luck with it!

Tina

x

On top of all the other comments, Tina …

Wait until the new boss takes over. One of two things can happen:

  • New boss picks up on the last annual review.
  • You have a year while the new boss is getting established.

In the first case have a reply ready. Like: “You know I have this MS problem? Well, I would not want to get into the middle of somerthing new, have a relapse, and mess things up for the firm.” In your own words of course.

In the second case, do nothing.

In any event, “Thinking of the good of the firm” is always a good line. Putting thoroughness before sheer speed is for the good of the firm. It was being thorough that slowed your workrate a bit wasn’t it?

Geoff

I’m sure I’m not saying anything that you don’t already know, but here’s a straw man for you anyway…

In any business, there are people who are ambitious and people who are happy where they are. The latter are absolutely essential to successful businesses - they are the stability, the experience, the backbone of the business, but they have to consistently meet or beat their targets to be valued as experienced long-timers and to therefore be excused the pep talks about promotion, etc.

So, here’s the challenge. If your job is not satisfying (to the extent that you are missing targets because you are bored by it), then perhaps you need to do something else? If you can’t do something else, then is there a way to make your current job more interesting? Because if you want to be able to continue doing it for the next 15-20 years (gulp!), you have to find a way to make yourself indispensible; make yourself part of the backbone.

Of course, if it’s your MS that’s preventing you from getting the volume of work done, then perhaps the targets are wrong?

Karen x

Thanks Geoff,

All joking aside, I am VERY thorough in my work, and consistent quality of output was one of the few positive messages I took away from the appraisal.

There were no issues at all about quality of anything, which was a bit surprising, really, considering I feel a bit addled at times.

Unfortunately, quantity was a bit lacking…

I couldn’t say I spend most of my days posting on here, could I? :wink:

Tina

Hi Karen,

There’s the rub, you see. I don’t really know if it’s the MS, or if I’m just bored and disillusioned. How do you tell?

I don’t think I was ever the dynamic and thrusting young executive type - I never really had managerial ambitions. On the other hand, I think I used to be more proactive than this!

I know what my boss is saying, and think I used to be better, but this whole MS thing is so subtle and insidious, I don’t really know when it started chipping away at my motivation. Several years before diagnosis, at a guess. I was aware there was a problem, and assumed I had become depressed - was treated for depression even, but without success. I now think it was the MS slowly sapping my energy, all the time.

I DO wonder if the targets are wrong - wrong for someone with MS, that is. But I find that although I don’t meet them, I am unable really to explain why. I appreciate this must be frustrating for my boss, too, because all he sees is someone who doesn’t quite meet the mark, but fails to explain the problem.

Is it apathy? Or MS fatigue? I’ve spent many years thinking myself stupid and lazy, without realising I was ill. But even now I know I am, I still can’t tell the flippin’ difference!

Tina

x

Tina,

I would definitely say MS fatigue. Which causes you to not want to do things because it’s too much to cope with - aka you can’t spare the energy to thing about something. Which sounds like apathy. Give yourself some credit! You are obviously not lazy or not up for a huge challenge. You’ve proved that! You are just exhaused by our lovely MS!

As far as describing the effects MS has on you, and how it affects your work, pick the words and symptoms that show you in the most positive light. And that your boss might have some understanding of. If you are like me, you get very tierd when you are fatigued, plus find concentrating very difficult plus my eyesight goes dodgy. Which makes doing anything which needs you to look at things difficult to say the least. Which is everything at work, basically. I would use my eyesight example to explain why sometimes it takes you longer to do things than other times. People can imagine eyesight problems more than something they have absolutely no experience of - ‘fatigue’ doesn’t mean anything to most lucky people it doesn’t affect! Companies are also aware they have to consider eyesight issues, especially if you work on computers. Which I do. I tell people that my eyesight can get blurry because my eye muscles get tired and I can get double vision. If I rest, it improves - usually a couple of hours sleep in my case! But if I don’t take a break when I need to I end up with a huge headache and am no use to anyone.

Don’t forget to remember all the things you’ve done in the past - before MS hit. That is you. The MS means you have to look after yourself while you do as much as you can. The hard bit is accepting that you can’t do as much as you used to. That’s what I’ve found anyway. For me that’s not being able to do much at all sometimes. I’ve never had big physical problems which people can identify with. Using my stick helps as people can understand that. I still want to give myself a good shake, get a grip and stop making a fuss about nothing. I’m hoping my CBT will help me remember not to think that!

The information pack that I was given at the MS Therapy Centre is the one you can download from their website. It tells you what therapies there are, and when they are available. I’ll let you know how I get on!

Tina, you have had some very thoughtful and good responses here. It’s no fun for you to feel that you are falling short of your employer’s expecations - there’s nothing very fulfilling about that. So I would be inclined to think about how to explain to them the kind of changes to your job that would allow you to deliver something they want and will appreciate (even if it will necessarily be something less valuable to them than an Anita working at full, motivated throttle.) There’s something important here about expectation management - theirs and yours! - and it seems to me there is a need to do some resetting of the ground rules for your role, so that you can take pleasure in in doing well something that will be well-received, even if that somethign is a shadow of what you used to be capable of. That way you are much more likely to feel motivated to deliver, it seems to me, so it is a bit of a virtuous circle.

Alison

x

No thank you, I’m quite happy being an ‘indian’ and letting the others fight over being a ‘chief’!

Even before I was diagnosed with MS, I got to a stage where I realised that I was no longer a ‘go getter’ but quite happy to just do my job to the best of my ability and let others get on with playing the ‘politics’ of the firm trying to get one up on the other.

To be honest. I found providing the bullets and them watching someone else go into battle and face the flack far more rewarding and much less stressful.

Do your job to the best of your ability and let them thrash about in the ‘whirlpool’ while you enjoy the quieter water, you still make progress without making such a splash.

Wishing you good luck and peace in your heart. Ann