Yesterday I wrote about the terrible start I experienced on my trip to the corporate office. What I didn’t tell you folks was that the journey to Virginia from Texas, the better part of a thousand miles, included a review of last year’s accomplishments.
Evidently, it popped up on my calendar while I was in flight.
But that’s okay. I mean I did have accomplishments right?
I haven’t been fired.
At least, not yet anyway.
Since meeting my new boss three years ago, it’s always been hit or miss with him. There have been times when we were in sync and times when we were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Talk about a clash of the titans.
Typically, and for the last three years, my boss has traveled to my location to perform this awe-inspiring assessment of, in his opinion, my less than stellar performance, but not this time.
This time I was walking into the corporate lion’s den and meeting him in his office, a complete and total advantage on his part.
Yeah, it’s like that. Me fighting for higher marks (sometimes more fabulous than I actually deserved) and him trying to low ball me to fit in with the meager below the cost of living merit increase he didn’t want to give me in the first place.
Over the last three years we have some pretty spirited conversations.
I’ll leave it at that.
Actually, the merit increase was the last thing on his mind, and you’ll see why.
This year, the entire review process was completely different than all the others. Maybe I’ve lost that aggressive, almost combatant attitude toward the process and the man in general.
Maybe I’m just a jaded old fool who hasn’t decided whether or not I intend to keep playing the corporate game.
Actually, it was none of those that made it different this time.
It was the fact that my boss seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say from both personal and professional perspectives.
I had absolutely no idea how to handle his sudden interest in what I’ve actually done this past year, how I managed through the obstacles and still managed to perform to expectations.
All in all, it was turning into a pretty decent conversation. We had a rather fair and in sync review of my personal assessment of the job I’d done.
If it couldn’t have gotten any better, he mentioned something I’d told him last year about me being a writer and how difficult it was to maintain my writing career and the JOB.
Right then, my mind went wild with thoughts of getting the boot, but the way the boss asked the question seemed different. He seemed actually interested in which direction I wished to go with the rest of my life.
He even reminded me of the conversation we had last year and asked if I was still as interested in my writing career, at which point I immediately said that I was.
In hindsight, I should have been a little guarded with my response, but I’ve gotten to the point lately I just don’t want to hide behind a curtain anymore. I’d rather be honest in my answers and feel good about myself than concoct a lie.
Besides, I’d already told the man I fully intended to make my writing my career for the rest of the days I have here on the planet.
I quickly deduced my boss was giving me a choice. What was completely surprising about this was that he’d been listening to me all the time. He’d been paying attention all those times when I spoke about my writing. He’d heard when I told him how much I cared for it, even though it wasn’t paying the bills right now.
My boss was, in essence, telling me, “if you want to stay with us and continue to contribute as you’ve done in the past, I’m okay with it. However, if you’re going to embark on another career like your writing, I’m good with that as well. The decision’s yours P.G.
It was the first time ever in the history of my work career I’d actually been given a choice to either stay or go. This would be my choice. Not a layoff or downsizing, or righting the ship. Not, “you’re outta here you lazy a*s tub-o-goo. Here’s your stapler now hit the streets.”
He was actually telling me, “Paul, it’s up to you. You tell me what you want to do.”
A lot of you may be thinking oh for Christ’s sake P.G. snap out of it. Can’t you see he’s f*cking with your brain? He’s trying to make you believe you have a choice. Nobody has an option anymore. There aren’t companies around that actually treat their employees like that.
To that, I say you are absolutely correct.
But there are good people working for companies like that who do.
And this man seemed to be one of them.
For the next hour, he let me talk about my writing, not the job. He asked me about the progress I was making and the money I wasn’t making. Seemingly intrigued, he asked me about my three books, and when the fourth one was coming out. We spoke of the writing I’m doing here, the fan base I was trying to build, and the topics I liked to write about.
I know it was my annual performance review, but the last hour, a surreal hour to be truthful, seemed as though I was sitting in front of my computer talking to all my writing friends instead of my boss.
How weird is that?
Oh, I know what you folks are thinking. Well, at least I think I know. You think corporate industry America isn’t like that. The employee is just a number and considered a liability, and my boss was merely seeing how much longer he would have before he would have to replace me.
I really don’t give a rat’s a*s what he was thinking. All I know is that for the better part of an hour, I got to talk about something that really floated my boat, melted my butter, and turned me on.
We, not just me, talked about writing and the business of writing.
It wasn’t until our conversation was interrupted by a knock on his door that we both realized we’d eaten up a lot of time he was to spend in another meeting. We’d pretty much said all we both needed to say, and when I stepped out into the hallway with him right behind, he asked me a simple question.
“Paul, you got this?”
He grinned at me, and I shot a smile back, nodded, and said, “Yeah, boss, I got it.”
And that was it. End of year performance review done, another one biting the dust and all that jazz. I’ve been doing this a long time as a professional project manager for over twenty-five years, folks, and I have never, never ever experienced a performance review like this one.
I think a lot of it had to do with the previous year when I was in the initial throes of committing to my writing, a point where I was making a huge mental change in priorities.
A point I had no problem discussing with him.
I think he recognized the passion in me, saw it in my expressions when I talked about it, and I think he wanted to see that again in me.
Of course, I think he also wanted to see that same kind of passion for the JOB as well.
Ah, but beggars can’t be choosers at the moment, right?
I’m convinced last year he saw the emotion in me and I as I sit here on a plane back to Dallas Texas writing this to all of you, I believe he wanted to see for himself if the passion was still there.
I honestly believe he wanted to know if I was still leaning in the same direction.
Somehow I believe he got his answer.
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