What’s worse than a hangover?

The Hangover © 2009 Warner Bros. Ent.

A hangover is the experience of various unpleasant physiological and psychological effects following the consumption of ethanol. Hangovers often last for several hours or more than 24 hours.

Typical symptoms of a hangover include a headache, drowsiness, concentration problems, dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress (e.g., vomiting), the absence of hunger, depression, sweating, nausea, hyper-excitability, and anxiety.

Are we sure we’re describing the symptoms of a hangover following just the consumption of ethanol?

Recently, a senior managing editor contacted me through a cold call email because of my background on the subject they were covering — self-evaluations in the workplace. They wanted to update the article at the link they shared with me.

They were hoping I might see something worth adding or have some interesting insight on one or more of the tips in the article. Would you, they asked me, be interested in looking?

I did. At first glance, I was compelled to dismiss this opportunity.


Because depending on the experts you talk to or those doing the research, regardless of their claims, there remains mystery and controversy with this miscued piece of HR paperwork.

In our current business climates and cultures, I think most of us agree from experience; reviews aren’t a favorite topic. And neither are self-evaluations.

Like in billiards and snooker, reviews and self-evaluations become shots in which the players fail to strike the ball accurately with the cue.

Are self-evaluations a necessary cue for professional development? Why as one author claims, do we need to learn how to get the most out of this often-maligned process?

Others contend it’s because employee self-evaluation encourages more participation in performance evaluation and career planning from employees.

They contend self-evaluation is one of the best methods to engage employees in the process of looking at performance and setting both job and career goals.

This process ensures employees prepare, as others argue, thoughtfully on their performance development planning or appraisal meeting with their boss.

And as those in this center of gravity, a line of sight, on employee self-evaluation uphold, it provides a useful opportunity for employees to consider their level of performance and contribution seriously.

So, it’s like that?

It’s all good, pop the bubbly, life is lovely
All sun no rain
No strain, can’t complain
Pass Hell pain, but no Coumbaya
Now I Boomshaka-laka-laka Boo-ah-ah
I got the good life, no strife, real nice[1]

No. It’s not like that.

In IWB speak: it depends on the center of gravity and a line of sight, doesn’t it?

Whose center of gravity and line of sight is paramount here.

It often becomes more chained to cave thinking and performing. Here Be Dragons.

This kind of thinking and performing in reviews and self-evaluations in the workplace, argues Samuel A. Culbert, destroys morale, kills teamwork, and hurts the bottom line.

These methods Culbert contends, are a one-side-accountable, boss-administered review, which is little more than a dysfunctional pretense.

Even with the best of intentions, given the psychological mindedness, critical thinking and intervention skill sets in superior-subordinate relationships, reviews and self-evaluations are negative on corporate performance, obstacles to straight-talk relationships, and a prime cause of low morale at work.

Even the mere knowledge, Culbert argues, such events are going to occur, damages daily communications and teamwork.

We’ve all heard it time and again, haven’t we?

Allegedly, the primary purpose of performance reviews, in all their shapes, sizes and colors, is to enlighten subordinates, as Culbert insists, about what they should be doing better or differently.

Like Culbert, I see the primary purpose of these processes and methods quite differently.

I see it as intimidation (unintentional or intentional) — Here Be Dragons, targeted at preserving managerial authority and power advantage.

And the employee knows this intimidation is unnecessary, don’t they?

Their boss has the power, Culbert insists, with or without the performance review.

Psychological insights show how, where, and why we connect with each other the way we do.

Two people, two mind-sets, as Culbert tells it.

The mind-sets, the mindshare, and the mindscapes held by two stakeholders in a performance review or a self-evaluation engagement, often work at cross-purposes.

And dragons lie in wait?


In English translation, mokita is “the truth we all know but agree not to talk about.” It is a word taken from a language called Kivila and spoken in Papua New Guinea.

Several concepts in the English language related to mokita are the “elephant in the room” and the “polite fiction,” where everyone is aware of the truth but pretends to believe some alternative version to avoid shame, embarrassment, or conflict.

It can do lots of damage to individuals, climates, and cultures in organizations because we do not address the actual problems or work on the needed solution.

Instead, we end up often working on things that will make no difference, wasting time and resources.

What happens to you when you challenge mokita in your performance review, or your self-evaluation is working at cross-purposes between you and your boss?

It cuts both ways, for both you and your boss, including your company, and a willingness to frame shortcomings, not as problems or things done wrong, but instead areas for development.

If your boss and your company expect you to go deeper to discover insights, learn more, do better, and contribute at a higher level, they too should be willing authentically to do so.

They too should have a plan on how to get there with you, so you feel appreciated, believe and see that your work has a purpose, what you have done and are doing matters.

In IWB’s Manifesto, it insists organizations do not make people; people make organizations. Neither do job titles make people, people make job titles, and they bequeath them with power.

Ownership (personal accountability; personal responsibility; personal self-reliance) of self-evaluations is mokita.

Not only for you but your boss and your company using this information as a necessary device for personal development.

What’s the formal and informal rules and syntax here in your climate and culture, ecosystem and environment at work?

Is this more mokita? Or less?

Seriously, why should you only have to approach your self-evaluation, or for that matter, your performance review, with having to ask questions that matter, whether they can be quantified in traditional ways?

Don’t like something? Change it.

Hey, I got news for you. It’s also about how your boss and your company can make a stronger contribution to you. Asking questions that matter, whether they can be quantified in traditional ways. Don’t like something? Change it.

Our passion in IWB is to create sustainable environments in organizations that put people first and grow authentic human-centric places to work.

The results are innovative business models and processes that drive economic growth for all stakeholders.

Do your boss and company talk this walk? And walk this talk?

Job performance or job security shouldn’t land on feeling yourself crossing a line that you don’t really mean to cross. Pleasing others. Or looking good. Or how well you play the game at work.

And when you cross it enough times, as Rudy Baylor argued in The Rainmaker, it disappears forever. “And then you’re nothin but another lawyer joke. Just another shark in dirty water.”

Neither should your self-evaluation be business process management where it lands on you only having to document your achievements, how and who it helped.

Or having success and then advancement forward depend on your storytelling skills — concisely telling your story, including the problem, the fix, and the end results to placate more importantly informal rules and syntax in your climate and culture, ecosystem and environment at work.

Where are your manager and the company in all of this?

What have they done, or are doing, documenting their achievements, how it did or is doing, and how this has helped you?

Do you find yourself needing or hesitating to do so, asking for guidance, direction and mentoring?

Again, it cuts both ways, doesn’t it?

Like Steven Jobs contended, “you don’t hire bright people to tell them what to do. Instead, you hire bright people for them to tell you (your boss and your company) what to do.”

And if your employer and the climate and culture you are working in refuses to give you any proactive feedback?

It’s time to question if you are in the right climate and culture; ecosystem and environment: Generativity versus Stagnation.

You deserve better, as your boss and your company expect from you. As Robin Sharma contends, success is fantastic, but the significance is even better. Are you expected to contribute and to leave a mark on the people around you?

In failing to live from this reference, as Sharma argues, you betray yourself.

Ask yourself, how do your boss and your company square up with this center of gravity and line of sight?

Authentic leaders, contends Sharma, are always building their legacies by adding deep value to everyone that they deal with and leaving the world a better place in the process.

Why should you have to, or be expected to, singularly mitigate skillfully the failure of nerve, or learned helplessness syntax in your climate and culture, ecosystem and environment at work?

Obviously a discussion needs to be had with your boss to sort out authentic expectations from mokita.

Being misaligned, or even “off this much,” should tell you, including your boss, you’re not talking and putting in place corrective actions and adjustments throughout the course of the year.

Let’s refreash our memory.

Your self-evaluation should be your opportunity to have the courage to ask questions that matter, whether they can be quantified in traditional ways.

But does your boss and your company hold this center of gravity and line of sight to be self-evident?

What they are asking, and expecting of you, do they talk the walk, and walk the talk?

Authenticity is one of IWB’s paramount provisoes in its center of gravity, and its work with clients and their enterprises.

It’s true to our personality, spirit, and character, and showing our clients ways to find and be true to theirs.

The performance review, and neither should the self-evaluation process be your opportunity for you to show your boss and your company — you and the others you work shoulder-to-shoulder with — are brilliant fact collectors who fit neatly and comfortably within political correctness, tick-the-right boxers, or plug-and-players.

Pass the baton — the brilliance lies within all of us.

I nurture in IWBs climate and culture, as we contend also on our website, the race is about the runners, not the baton. The relay should bring out the best in everyone.

A baton drop doesn’t automatically disqualify your team. The secret of learning is failing early, fail often.

Without failure, nothing can be discovered. Few of our failures are fatal, as Tim Hartford contends.

Performance reviews overall, and self-evaluations specifically are opportunities for you and your boss including your company — to collaborate with one another to close the gaps between what’s championed (culture) and what’s performed or played out (culture).

Doing so — tees up achieving authentic change — transforming stakeholders, their bosses, and their companies’ business narratives and performance from merely interesting to truly impressive.

Let’s stop normalizing the abnormal as an art form.

Treasuring individuals and interactions over the wizardry and magic potions of process and tools, data and technique.

Performance reviews, and equally important, employee self-evaluations are about discovering and working through your “story patterns,” and not just the “content.”

And another thing.

I’m tired of hearing human capital labeled as just employees and branding them as labor who can always be traded for money.

If it’s flowing, corral them in. If it’s drying up, send them out to pasture.

Trading Labor for Money — Both must Coexist for Your Company to Survive

Short-term thinking infects many enterprises. They trade long-term investments in labor and communities in exchange for higher profits and a few fleeting “attaboys” from Wall Street.

I advocate investing for the long term in people and not in gaining a temporary financial advantage because ultimately the energy and commitment of a workforce all bringing their creativity, and innovation to bear — all pulling in the same direction — is the key to success.

Are you tired of being another Jurassic Park franchise, fixated on creating a theme park of cloned dinosaurs?

The private, public and social sectors are full of examples of enterprises that fail to adapt or survive in their operating environment, and like dinosaurs, are disappearing.

Dr. Rogers, Psy.D. is Founder / CEO of Insights Without Borders (IWB).

IWB collaborates & partners with clients & enterprises across the private, public and social sectors.

IWBs professionals offer real-world guidance or service as force multipliers developing leadership capabilities, business strategy & development, economics of value chains, roadmaps for innovation investments, knowledge capital, and closing process & human performance improvement gaps.

[1] Written by Ronald Bell, Claydes Smith, George Brown, James Taylor, Robert Mickens, Earl Toon, Dennis Thomas, Robert Bell, Eumir Deodato, Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers, Will Smith, Jeffrey Townes • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Walt Disney Music Company, Universal Music Publishing Group.