Tell us your employee performance review stories

A former reporter at a Gannett newspaper in the Midwest wrote to me about his experience with annual employee performance reviews, and suggests that readers here might have stories of their own.

“Back in the mid-1990s, annual evaluations were on a five-point scale,” the reader says. “Where an evaluation landed you on that scale determined the size of your raise. If the Corporate decree was for raises in a range of 0% to 4%, then a grade of 5 got you the 4% raise. So, after a string of several years of grades of 5, I get my evaluation, expecting more of the same, as it had been a pretty good year for stories. The evaluation’s narrative seems to bear that out — references to ‘most productive year yet,’ ‘impact on public policy,’ good investigative work, strong writing, etc. Get to the bottom of the page, and the grade is a 4. Am puzzled by this incongruity.”

The e-mail continues: “I query my editor, who allows as how this is indeed an inconsistency, but that the decree has come down from on high that no 5s are to be awarded that year — period. Whether this was for budgetary reasons, or simply because the new boss had a sadistic streak, was never made clear.”

Tell us your good and not-so-good experiences with performance reviews. Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.


65 Responses to “Tell us your employee performance review stories”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Worst review I ever had at Corporate IT came after the successful switchover to the new email system back in 2002. I received major kudos throughout the entire process from users and sites, as well as GCI IT management, while working brutal hours (60 to 96+ hours per week for over two years straight) without any overtime or other compensation.

    Come review time and all I get is a 1 percent raise, no bonus, no promotion and a demand to “continue to provide an example to others with the long hours and good work”.

    I stopped the overtime on the spot and eventually left.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    In our newsroom, even the best veteran reporters were not given above a 3 or maybe a 3.5 on the 5-point scale. We know. We compared notes. Obviously it was a way to keep raises at 1 percent and push older workers to leave.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    The five-point scale at my former shop was a joke. A one rating would get you fired and no manager would do that because the departed person could not be replaced.
    Think about that: Managers would keep incompetents on board because at least they could open mail, answer phones or call for help when murders happened at 1 am.
    If a manager screwed up his courage to go through the hell of proper documentation and the emotional anguish of firing someone, he was rewarded with having to do more work.
    Also, no one was allowed to receive a 5. The top rating was reserved for someone better than Bob Woodward.
    So, you had an effective three-point scale that did not properly separate the performance of the workers.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Even when I made Employee Of The Year I still got a grade 3. I think it was a jealous manager or something.

    I never took a sick day (I’m the idiot) and I was never late. I was the youngest on a team and the fastest at what we did. So fast that the old guys told me to slow down because I was making them look bad. What a joke, I also did their work while they sat in the chairs and coasted while I slaved away to get it all done.

    The grade contributed to a financial raise just shy of covering the increase in Health Insurance cost that year.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I was told that I was making too much money compared to my peers (I’m older) and for that reason my grade was lowered so there would be more money for others younger with families. That’s plain not fair because I am carrying just as much of a load as the others.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    The system is screwed.

    If you do good work, you get a 3, because “that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

    If you do really good work, you MIGHT get a 4, because “you’ve done what you’ve been asked to do and more.”

    How do you get a 5? Cure cancer?!? It’s extremely difficult if not impossible.

    But it’s oh so easy to get lower than a 3, which earns you a PIP and, depending on your supervisor, gives them an opportunity to terminate you.

    It’s like the grades are A++, A+, A, D and F! Makes no sense at all.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    My main complaint here is how my supervisor would do the entire review (he knows me and my work better than anyone in the organization) … and the EE would arbitrarily lower the grade.

    My supervisor gave me a 5 in 2007. My EE cut that to a 3 for reasons she never would articulate to me. It was a dirty move. I told her. She had the gall to tell me the supervisor gave me a 3.

    When my supervisor brought it up in a private meeting with me and the EE, she claimed ignorance. Said she can’t remember every review.

    This was no more than 15 days later.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    For several years I received a 3.5, but then we apparently did away with the half-point scores. I “dropped” down to a 3.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    The word in my old shop was this: If you want to get a 4 (on a 5-point scale), you need to win a Pulitzer. If I gave someone a 3.5, I had to offset it with a 2.5 or lower to someone else – yes, I was told this. And yes, below 3 means no raise, I know that, I’ve been there. Horrible, horrible place to work.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    My editor and I once laughed out loud at the grade she’d given me. On that 5-point rubric was a category along the lines of “knowledge of local area.”I’m like a fifth generation native of the place, I’d grown up, went to school, went to dinner parties with mayors and congressman, one of whom was a relative, and pretty much when the newsroom needed to know if anybody knew anybody here or there, I was the first they came to. Anyway, my editor gives me a “4” on that. I looked at her kind of funny and she looks down at the paper and says “Um, we’re not allowed to give fives.”

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Excuse me, but don’t performance appraisals have to be a true measure of performance if they are used to determine raises?

    I was under the impression companies did away with those things long ago and, instead, gave cost of living raises.

    Does Gannett do both?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    11:01 Your impression is wrong. There is a direct link between performance ratings and raises.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    11:01, cost of living raises? “True” measure of performance?

    In our shop, we were told they were only allowed to give out a max of 2.5 percent. Meanwhile the health care costs were rising at double that.

    I was given excellent reviews, given the “max” of 2.5 percent. Then word got around that a co-worker got a 5% raise despite ignoring two major projects that were critical to the paper’s image (one was rescued, sort of, at the last minute, the second was an important online project that still hasn’t been completed).

  14. Anonymous Says:

    So, reading these posts brings up something I asked people for years while working at the Asbury Park Press: Why don’t we form a union?

    What other kind of industry would take such blatant forms of employee abuse and exploitation? I just don’t understand it, especially now that I’ve jumped to a different field and learned how most other skilled workers handle such issues as overtime, pay raises and benefits.

    It’s not just non-Gannett papers either. North Jersey Media Group, the family-owned company that owns the Bergen Record, has had a raise freeze in effect for more than two years now. The Kansas City Star just put a similar freeze into effect. Faced with that, or pathetic raises that don’t even match cost-of-living increases, why is it that journalists are so complacent and shudder at the idea of forming unions? We’ve seen what happens when you sit back, do nothing, and put your trust in a management system that obviously doesn’t give a fuck about you.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I had a review that was so groundlessly negative, based on nothing more than second-hand, vague perceptions, that I nearly quit and sued the company. I never once had a written reprimand or any sort of reprimand in my many years with Gannett, but have gotten one or two frustratingly inaccurate annual reviews that were so lacking in anything substantative that my entire confidence in my boss was lost forever. The review was so off base that it was like I was reading someone else’s performance evaluation. I can take criticism, but this one review seemed so personal, so baseless that it is amazing it was written by a top newsroom editor. And just to be fair and to make a point that these reviews are often random at best, I have also received overly positive reviews in years where my work was no different than any other year. The way in which Gannett does reviews is so destructive to morale. I’ve been reviewed by folks who barely knew my name, let alone saw my work. Just a joke.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    It was in 2003 when the Cincinnati Enquirer’s former HR VP told us that corporate wanted to put a stop to “grade inflation” in evaluations. That led to a sharp decline in scores, and everything moved toward the 3 range. Even the most proficient workers come out as “meets expectations.” It doesn’t bother us so much because it’s just a silly corporate game and we still get raises of 2-4 percent when we know about raise freezes at other papers. What’s strange is that the company doesn’t use the stingier evaluation scale to weed out obvious dead weight, and there’s a lot of that here.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    After years of top notch reviews, and for a period in which I completed the launch of not one, but two highly praised projects… my score dropped a point from the previous year.

    Like I needed more reasons to give up caring.

    After consulting with several coworkers over the following weeks, we at least discovered that this was universal. It’d sure be nice to have someone explain that rather than digging for obscure “failures” and points of improvement in order to justify a lowered score.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve also had my immediate supervisor tell me in my reviews that the grades he gave me were arbitrarily changed by both our ME and EE, even though my supervisor works closely with me 4 days a week and the ME and EE aren’t in the office with me more than 10 hours a week.

    I’ve also been told that the way my ME and EE view the grades, if you would miraculously get a 5 in a category one year, the next year that same high level of performance is considered a 1 for you, and you have to raise your game that much more to get a higher grade.

    My supervisor didn’t argue when I told him how asinine that approach is, and I told him I would be copying and pasting my self-appraisals from then on. I’ve done that for the last 3 years and gotten the “standard” 2.5% to 3% raises every time.

    If they don’t care about being honest with those appraisal tools, I’m not going to pretend to care.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    My reviews were more or less okay in the years I was at USAT. But one feature of its reviews (and I wonder how they were elsewhere in Gannett) was the “self-evaluation” portion that we had to complete and give to our supervisor BEFORE he/she did his/her review of US. How assbackwards is that?? “Here, boss, let me load your evaluation gun with bullets capable of wounding only ME . . . “

    You might think that in their reviews of our mid-level bosses (the line editors, assignment editors, and such), the higher-ups might take into account the views and experience of those they supervised — meaning, yeah, US. You would be wrong.
    It all seemed like a gigantic disconnect from the notion of a true, fair and thorough performance review . . . which of course is probably why this practice thrives at Gannett, where “performance” reviews are a sham, an excuse for the often-arbitrary numbers and percentages associated with raises. Nothing more.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    The year I won two national journalism awards I received a disappointing performance review. The problem? Although I had turned out prize winning efforts, I had not hit the editor’s expectations regarding Gannett benchmarks. Talk about a major bummer when there was only a minor pay increase. I guess they thought the cash prize from the contest was reward enough?
    I translated the response to mean that they didn’t care if I was a good journalist, they just wanted me to boost THEIR image in the eyes of Mother Gannett.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    I just received my fourth review a few months ago. Amazingly, each was conducted by the same supervisor, who I have worked closely with my entire time at my paper.

    I have to say, I’ve felt that, for the most part, each of my reviews was fair and accurate. There were a few points I could quibble with, but overall, I’ve never been dealt any major surprises, and I’ve always received a raise anywhere from 2.5 to 3 percent.

    Having said that, the biggest problem I have with the evaluations is that the supervisors tend to take one minor issue and blow it up into something major that can knock down your score. I had minor issues with one former reporter about stories, and on my evaluation a couple of years ago, that turned into a criticism that I have problems with other staff members and needed to be more of a team player. Again, these were minor, isolated issues with one person that I felt had been resolved quickly and with no harm done.

    There’s also been rumors at my place that the EE and ME, and even the publisher, will knock down people’s scores.

  22. Mr. Yesterday Says:

    That’s not a rumor, Anon1:07, that’s the truth. A mid-level manager (oh, say a sports editor or a features editor) would be responsible for the reviews of the reporters in his/her dept. Those reviews, of course, had to be approved by MEs or even EEs (depending on the shop). I know for a fact that a number of times after, oh, the sports editor or features editor would complete the initial pass the numbers would be knocked down by higher ups. It was all a big charade – everybody in my department was going to get 2.5 percent anyway. And I was instructed to tell the troops “Hey, this is as good as I’ve seen in recent months.”
    That was true, of course, but still.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Those self-evaluations are common, 12:40. I once put on mine that I just wanted to survive the next year.

    My supervisor wasn’t happy, but I really didn’t care because he was the one driving me batty to begin with.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    whine….whine….whine how come y’all don’t go somewhere else where you’ll be happy instead of whining.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    To all new employees:
    Do not put anything critical in your self-evaluation. Your supervisor will just paste it into the review and it will be used against you.
    In all likelihood, your supervisor can’t really remember minor- to medium-level foul-ups, so unless you’ve gotten sued for libel, the supe will have to make something up. But it will be really vague so he can’t be challenged on it.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    I’m convinced that Gannett treats employees like dogs as a calculated strategy to leave them demoralized, insecure and unlikely to challenge the authority of management.

    If a company can be classified as mentally ill, Gannett surely meets the criteria.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    The bottom line was we were ALL chumps to allow the abuse. It was a horrible relationship we decided to saty in. We were, and continue to be, enablers.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    1:29, this isn’t whining. It’s called catharsis. I call it a way of saying all the things I wanted to say when I was there and couldn’t because I needed to be able to pay my mortgage and hadn’t figured out a way to get out. To get the vitriol that I feel out of my system, to know that some of the bastards I worked for are reading this and that yeah, it’s inflicting some frustration, is helping me heal some very deep wounds.

  29. DanOregon Says:

    I had my schedule changed three times in one year and received a 3 in flexibility/versatility. And a 3 in phone with no explanation.
    I understand managers are under pressure to deflate grades and justify low raises, but the lack of honesty and outright fiction on some of my reviews was truly disheartening. You realize after a couple of years, it isn’t you. It is them.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    I am expecting the evaluations to come into play like they never have before later this year when there will be another very big round of layoffs. This is going to be a very bad Christmas advertising season, worse than ever, and come the end of November, GCI is going to scramble to make it’s numbers look as good as they can for stockholders. That means by December, there will be layoffs, and those with lower scores are goners. That’s why these evaluations are a really big deal. Management’s attitude is that they can replace all of us because there are young people pounding on the doors to get in and get a job to pay off their student loans. So if they can get someone to work for less, why not? We are all replaceable, and will be replaced.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    “To all new employees:
    Do not put anything critical in your self-evaluation. Your supervisor will just paste it into the review and it will be used against you.”

    That was something I learned the hard way — but I did learn quickly. When all my self-criticism was used to deflate my score and none of my self-declared successes made it into the review, I felt totally betrayed.
    Fugh Dat.
    From then on, for some strange reason, I could never seem to think of anything from the previous year’s job performance that was not glowingly perfect and unmatched in employee history.
    *Areas where I need to improve* “Well, I guess I’m so good at my job that I make many of the other workers feel bad about their performance. I will, upon request, try to throttle back a bit.”

  32. Anonymous Says:

    “I will, upon request, try to throttle back a bit.”

    3:10, I love it!

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Has anyone had to deal with this review “trick”?

    Your review is 99 percent great.
    Then, out of the blue there is ONE issue, that has never been brought to light, never been mentioned.
    So there was no way to correct it in advance.
    But all of the sudden it’s a problem, and it’s on your evaluation.
    Therefore it’s used an an excuse to downgrade your performance number, and of course, your raise.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    “whine….whine….whine how come y’all don’t go somewhere else where you’ll be happy instead of whining.”

    Thanks for stopping by, Craig!

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Imagine how much money Gannett could save by scrapping the seemingly flawed performance review system and giving cost- of- living raises.

    From comments here, it sounds like it’s perceived as a big game by the bosses and the bossed. Why do them? What good are the doing? What harm are they inflicting—and at what cost to the company?

  36. Anonymous Says:

    It's fairly obvious that the wordsmiths in the newsroom don't know how to administer a payroll program or do performance appraisals! Having been through the drill in other departments you cannot rate everyone high or a five or a four. The average has to be a three because that's the pool of money you get for raises. There are three things that determine your raises.The first is how much is set aside for raises in the budget. The last few years this has been cut by a large %'age. The second is your appraisal rating of 1-5. 1's and 2's don't get raises from me instead they are put on a PIP and hopefully I have them out the door within a few months. Every year at budget time I rank every employee in my department and estimate their appraisal rating and raise. That goes into the budget. If I have a higher paid employee leave or retire that is replaced by a lower paid staff member I use the difference to pump up the raise to the ones on the bubble between 3&4 or who might have completed a special project or gone above and beyond during the year. The third key thing is where you fall within the grade range. For example if you are a grade 11 and the range is $500-$750 you will get a larger raise if you are at 10% of range ($525) compared to if you are at 95% of range ($737.50). That's just the way it is. HR has the salary ranges that are followed. When someone is at or above the range maximum they will only receive a one time bonus not a permanent raise. From reading this blog it's obvious that the newsrooms in Gannett are the most poorly managed, mis-administered lacking in communication departments in the company. If ME's EE's and publishers are knocking down ratings it's most likely because the employee was overrated to begin with and/or the raises are over the budgeted amount. Any HR department will tell you that grade inflation is rampant in the newsroom and that more adjustments are made there then anywhere else in the company. 5's are rare and for walking on water and by definition are for recognized experts or leaders in the industry. 4's would typically run 20-25% of the total, 3's would be 69-70% and the 1's and 2's whatever was left. Newsflash if you are meeting everything in your job description or maybe exceeding it by a little bit you are a 3. In newsrooms that is most likely to be presented as a 4 or a 5 and then ME's, EE's and pubs would knock it down. My 4's and the very elusive 5's are reserved for the handful of people in every department at any level that we couldn't do without and if I were building my department from scratch I would want. As a manager you are stuck with most of the employees and whether you believe it or not most of them are not stars.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    @4:17 – That will shut them up. Nice to see that this infantile response is still be trotted out.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    The reason they adopted these performance reviews was to make it easier to get rid of people. If someone considers an improper dismissal suit, all corporate has to do is reach in the files and pull out your performance review to show there was cause. If you are foolish enough to list some real shortcomings in the self-evaluation part, it will be pointed out that you recognized difficulties you were having with your job. When you signed these evaluations, you acknowledged that you not only knew what they contained, but had talked to a supervisor about them. With that sort of documentation of your troubles with your job, it would take a truly great lawyer to prove you were improperly dismissed.
    Plus corporate found a wonderful second use for them as reasons for keeping costs down and lowering salary levels.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    I always thought a self-evaluation would be nothing but entertainment and laughs for the editors who were going to read it, so I never did one in the decade I was with the company. In Gannett, self-evaluations are useless, by definition, except for providing potential negatives, benign or malignant.
    What has amazed me about this blog is how posters at all the sites continue to build a systemic indictment against the , inefficient, self-destructive, often mindless behemoth that is Gannett.
    An amazing consistency in the complaints. Scary.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    “The third key thing is where you fall within the grade range. For example if you are a grade 11 and the range is $500-$750 you will get a larger raise if you are at 10% of range ($525) compared to if you are at 95% of range ($737.50),” writes Anon 4:42 PM.

    Now that doesn’t sound like a system that gives raises based on performance to me.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    A self evaluation can be a very useful tool to remind your manager about the work that you have done.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    I was told directly that they dont ever give a 5 so dont expect it. Then at Ft. Myers they announced to the whole staff that IF they would give a cost of living increase at all that they were going to limit it to 1-2% for ALL employees until things got better. There was also a possibility that no one would get a cost of living increase if things continued on its downward spiral…. LOL

  43. Anonymous Says:

    My very first evaluation was in 1992. Was told by my manager that it was impossible to get a 5 because the company felt that if you were a 5, you should be working somewhere else. I thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. Should have left that day but stayed 16 years and got the ole cutback kick in the ass. Sorry we are consolidating things. See Ya!

  44. Anonymous Says:

    Anybody who ever had any doubts about Gannett being a company run by butt kissers, mediocrities and corporate dirtbags probably had a much clearer mind after two or three evaluations.

    This is a thug company. It’s too bad so many of us will lose our jobs now that the chickens are coming home to roost. The people responsible, of course, will get golden (maybe platinum) parachutes.

  45. Jim Hopkins Says:

    A reader sent the following in an e-mail, and agreed to have it published as a comment. I’ve edited it slightly to protect the writer’s identity:

    I will never forget how proud I was of missing the bar on the “mainstreaming” portion of my review. I worked at a small Gannett paper in Richmond, Ind., where I was the Preble County, Ohio, reporter. (The paper’s reach straddled Indiana and Ohio.) My ME wrote “_________ does an OK job of mainstreaming in her stories, especially given the challenge of covering a small rural county). We actually had a file of minorities — random people with no specific expertise — who some reporters would call just to get a minority voice in the paper.  Why does a story about the explosion of small coffee shops . . . need the perspective of a black person if no black person was actually sitting in the shop? Or why call an Asian American for a story about Rose Festival queen contests? Who knows, but we were told to call them up. Another Gannett moment I can’t forget as much as I’d like to: One of those sources, an Asian man, actually asked me why reporters kept calling him about local news of which he cared little and had no investment in.

    I was also scolded for coming back into the office to finish up late-breaking stories — even though the sewer board and town council meetings rarely finished before 9 p.m. (We were an afternoon paper.) Why the admonishment — because my editors feared I would go over my 40 hours and they would be forced to pay me overtime. In fact, the newsroom was usually down to two reporters and one editor on Friday afternoons — an infamous time for odd or big news to occur — because so many reporters had eaten up their 40 hours. The editors planned on this and made sure that one of us had Monday off so we could cover the Friday shift. I shouldn’t complain though, some of my best clips came on the late Friday shift.

    I always felt as if I was being managed my marionettes whose strings were constantly yanked from beyond. They were good guys forced to follow stupid rules. Some of them followed them long enough that they began to believe  them. And that was where the real loss of talent and leadership hurt the most. One of my editors, I think, couldn’t stomach it in anymore. He quit to go to seminary.

    When I moved to D.C., I found the end of those strings, just blocks from where I worked for the Washington Business Journal, a chain of 41 papers that is ran EXACTLY the opposite of the puppet press. Our offices were just up the street from Gannett’s before they headed out to Oz in McLean. When I was at the Business Journal, we USA-Today-ed our layout to the joy of many readers, but thankfully left our management style Gannett-free.

  46. Anonymous Says:

    Anyway, I moved on and a couple of years later, I’m catching up with my old boss. I had always given him a hard time about the evaluation, because in the end, he was the one who wrote all those things about me. He admits to me that “management was looking to make an example out of someone” and that someone happened to be me.

    Anybody having any doubts about these so-called evaluations? What a joke. These evaluations are only there to put an employee down or to keep their pay down. Nothing more – nothing less. But there will always be money in the pot for a$$kissers and favorite dead weight.

  47. Anonymous Says:

    7:46 PM

  48. Chris Erwin Says:

    I worked at the Asbury Park Press for about 13-plus years. I never got a bad review and was rewarded with decent raises along the way. I started out as a $10-an-hour PT clerk and ended up making about 45K per year. My last two reviews spelled my doom though. My 2006 review was above average and EE Skip Hidlay said it didn’t matter to him, ”I don’t like you or your attitude so you are getting a 0% raise.” Now that did alot for my attitude.

    The next year…another above average review and I was given a 1% raise. I told him to keep it. Skip almost dared me to go above his head and I took it to HR, where the VP of HR at the time at least pretended to agree with me. We then met with the legendary little man himself… BIG Bob Collins. He proceeded to tell me that Skip was the “best of the best.”

    Then I went above his head to corporate, not realizing that this was the exact management style they wanted. I was eventually suspended and then fired when I didn’t quit.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Ah, I remember so well the below commendable I received when I was six months or so pregnant. I was busting my hump on the copy desk as much as I could with constant fatigue. But that wasn’t good enough for my narcoleptic supervisor. (No joke. He was caught napping by the ME.)

    Meanwhile, my hubby who was also on the copy desk, received his review from another manager, and received an above commendable. What was he doing that I wasn’t? Who knows. My review wound up promptly in the recycling bin.

    Maybe there was a below-commendable quota, and since I was leaving the copy desk upon the birth of my son, I was selected to take one for the team.

  50. Anonymous Says:

    Here is what you do.

    Work at Gannett until your first year is over and then get your review. When they give you the “you are a great employee, but Corporate said we can’t rate anyone above a 4” quit.

    That’s what I did. Oh, and then I contracted my job with them for about four years — charging them through the nose while also working for other clients. Made more money (even after taxes) than I would have if I would have stayed.

    It helps that my partner has me on his health insurance.

    I moved on, but it felt good having a contract where I was really overcharging for what I gave them.

  51. Anonymous Says:

    When I was a manager at the DMRegister, we went through the annual torture of “doing the numbers” — putting together the payroll budget by decided in advance what each person on our staff would receive for a performance review grade (1-5) and percentage increase in pay, using the formula condescendingly described by 4:42 above. Depending on when each person’s review was due, some of those decisions were made up to 18 months before that time ever came.

    What was particularly annoying was that the EEs and MEs wouldn’t let us simply rank everyone a 3 and predict a middle-of-the-road raise so that later, as we actually evaluated individual performances, we could have some wiggle room — lowering some raises and increasing others. No, we had to give an even range of 2s, 3s and 4s, and we always had to “predict” the low end of the raise range for every person. Then, when the time came to actually do the person’s review, we’d have to fight like hell if we wanted to give a higher ranking/raise than what we had budgeted. (It was never a problem if we gave a lower ranking/raise, of course.)

  52. Anonymous Says:

    Talk about a self- fulfilling prophecy.

    Let me guess. Managers were rewarded for how closely they came to predicting—up to 18 months in advance—someone’s performance!

    Oh my. This is so wrong.

  53. Anonymous Says:

    10:04, that sounds very much like a certain former design manager in features who was promoted up to run a certain high-profile news page… in a certain city known for its very hot temperatures. Am I right? Even if I’m not, the template seems to be the same. Meanwhile, I can say that after many years in management at Gannett, there is most definitely a predetermined number for each employee, and even if you write the greatest self-eval of your lifetime it will not make that number budge. It all comes down to whether the ME or the EE likes you and trusts you as one of the people who smile and say “yes” no matter what is dumped on you. The best option for those of us who don’t have a lot of flexibility for finding a paycheck elsewhere is to try to find our peace and happiness elsewhere. Hold your head up and know that you once cared, but now it’s time to detach from caring about this and you’ll be OK.

  54. Anonymous Says:

    I’m curious. Are salary ranges for newsroom jobs common knowledge at Gannett papers? It seems like a big secret over here.

    Ditto job descriptions. A co-worker once asked the head of HR for a copy of his job description. Their reply: “What do you need that for?”

    Needless to say, he never received it.

  55. Anonymous Says:

    “It all comes down to whether the ME or the EE likes you and trusts you as one of the people who smile and say “yes” no matter what is dumped on you. The best option for those of us who don’t have a lot of flexibility for finding a paycheck elsewhere is to try to find our peace and happiness elsewhere. Hold your head up and know that you once cared, but now it’s time to detach from caring about this and you’ll be OK.”

    12:08, very true. It’s really hard to detach, but once you do, it’s very freeing.

  56. Anonymous Says:

    Hey 7:47, that story about mainstreaming reminds me of when I worked at the Indianapolis Star. A few years ago we were doing special sections on all the small suburban towns in the area. One of them was was Greenfield a town of about 14,000. It was 98 percent white, but the reporter doing the Greenfield stories still had to find a minority source, and busted his ass trying to do so. At one point I think he was interviewing the mayor of the town, happened to look out the window and saw a black person walking by. He excused himself, ran out and tried to find the guy but he was already gone.

  57. Anonymous Says:

    No matter how hard your boss leans on you, the self-evals are voluntary, not mandatory. Read the employee handbook. Mine said employees are “encouraged” to complete a self-assessment. No one can force you to divulge your thoughts on your performance or your goals. If a corporation decides that employees must be rated, let it rate away. If the corporation decides that you must share your private thoughts on a company form, just politely decline and let the chips fall. Negative consequences should be documented for a possible retaliation lawsuit.

  58. Anonymous Says:

    I almost always did my self-eval, but one year I just forgot … and so did my boss. No big deal. We were too busy trying to deal with a copy desk that was short four people.

    However, in later years, I realized it was a fantastic way to toot my own horn in a quiet way — Lord knows Gannett management will never commend your work. You have to put your accomplishments on paper … and make sure you keep a “good for me” pile in case you ever get a compliment.

    My next-to-last self-eval landed me a promotion, a Rising Star (not like they mean anything) and an excellent jumping-off point for my first job outside of Gannett.

  59. Anonymous Says:

    @7:05P.M.: Did you sign the evaluation that contained trumped-up charges of anger management issues? Did you write a rebuttal?

    At first I refused to sign the evaluation and was told if I didn’t sign it, I could be terminated. I almost just quit on the spot, but I had a wife and kids to think about, so I begrudgingly signed it. I actually came to terms with the idea that they were going to fire me, and that’s why I documented every work day, so I had some sort of defense.

    A couple of days after the evaluation, I contacted HR and told them the situation and was told point-blank “HR is not here for the employee, we’re here for the betterment of the company. So we can’t help you.”

    I guess Human Resources only apply to humans that walk around saying “Yes Gannett.”

  60. Anonymous Says:

    Having worked at several companies which actually reviewed employes fairly and compensated them for good to excelent performance, Gannett was always a puzzle to me.

    Year after year, I was given 3’s and 4’s….but always in configuration which would balance out to as 3+

    The comments generally exclled compared to the actual grades. When I did have the timerity to ask how my review “translated” into a pay increase, I was angrily told that the time of review was not the time to discuss raises.

    On one occasion, I waited three months after a review to receive a raise. Was it given that way to make a retroative raise seem like more?

  61. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett is failing because people make everthing way to difficult. Performance apprailsals could—and should—be used to optimize quality and productivity—one worker at a time.

    Reading these comments makes be think Gannett is, once again, losing out on something that could be a valuable management tool.

  62. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve consistently heard from managers that they can’t give me a five, despite some rave reviews. One boss told me he tried to, but wasn’t allowed by his supervisors. “I have to find something to criticize,” he told me, in an apologetic tone.

  63. Anonymous Says:

    Sounds like the company needs to divorce the appraisals from the raises. Not sure why they can’t just give 5s to great employees and then say, “Even though you’re great, the most we can give anyone this year is X%.” At least then the employee’s “record” wouldn’t be tarnished with reviews that contain “problems” that are blown way out of proportion just for the sake of keeping the raise percentages low.

    Is this something I should discuss with my supervisor, per Tara’s comment, so that we can create change in the entire company?

  64. Anonymous Says:

    Why not tie raises to cost of living increases and give everyone the same %. Keep the performance reviews, but insist that they be an accurate reflection of a person’s performance by rating people on specific, well-defined outcomes. Reward the top performers by letting them keep their jobs. Get rid of the ones who don’t—for whatever reason—meet the minimum standards.

  65. Anonymous Says:

    I had more than 35 years of experience, broke page one stories even tho I as a feature writer, and still got 2's (and pips) on my evaluations. My wife said write everything down. When I gave a story suggestion to business, city desk, etc. I wrote it down.When my next evaluation came up, I could show DOUBLE the achievements in each category that I had been criticized for in the previous evaluation. I was told my pip was continuing. When I asked why,I was told by my totally incompetent, unimaginative refugee of affirmative action that "Gannett is constantly raising its standards." In other words, no way you're gett9ing off your pip, whitey>"

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