of bosses and bonuses

my boss informed me he rated my performance for the last six months as (drumroll and breath holding, please) exemplary!

it came to me as a shock. well, not that i think i was overrated but that i was expecting the performance appraisal would still require a bit of negotiation between the two of us. (you know how it is, you’ve been PA-ed more than once in your working life).

when he handed me the 10-page printout of my performance appraisal, i jumped straight to the summary page.

“what are you doing?” he asked me.

“reading the summary page.”

“ahhh, you want to start with the last page?” he asked me.

“thats just how i look at reports.” i told him. “alright, now we can go into details.” i grinned.

i earned my degree when i just turned 19, took and passed the board exam the same year, and started work at 20. i had ten bosses in 3 companies, 6 roles in 7 years. the salary i have now is thirteen times more than what i was earning 7 years ago. so, it is no surprise that at age 27, i feel already old.

i had superb bosses and terrible ones. the terrible ones, quite surprisingly, were the ones that were once terrific, high performing employees. i am not generalizing; i am only giving account to who were my terrible bosses were before they had people working under them.

the second to the last boss i had before i quit my first job was one of them. he was a high-performer, he is that type of employee that multinationals would want to put in their front lines. he adored his job (his passion for it was scaringly overwhelming) and he was superb at it. i swear he’d probably dreamt of reuters and bloomberg screens at night. we used to report for the same senior manager but when he got promoted, the rest of us reported to him then.

maybe it was personal, that thing between us. it was so long ago, i cannot remember anymore. but i hated his guts as he hated mine. and professionals we may be, we seem to not care if we made it apparent to each other and to everybody else that we have issues. i questioned his management capability (because i truly believe he sucked at it) and he questioned my competency. he said once to me, “i believe you have been referred as a very high-performer by most-if not all- of your previous managers, but honestly, rona, i am not seeing it. i do not think you are capable at all.”

i have come a long way since. to say i have proved him wrong was unnecessary. his opinion was only 10% of my first job’s entire assessment of me. and in fairness to him (i find it such an amazing fact how things look so much better when you look at them objectively now), it was the first time he handled people. management skills—some people naturally have it, the rest have to train themselves for it.

but he did teach me a very important lesson then. i knew what kind of boss i wouldn’t want to be when the opportunity to be instrumental to a subordinate’s career life would come.

i thought of this because i would be having about twenty additional people reporting to me soon (and will increase as our business grows); and thus, i must remember this:

one must always learn from the past. it makes one a better person for the present.

i am still trying.

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