Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Goals & Accomplishments

My Goal
(Not Accomplished Yet...)
Once upon a time, my company, for whatever reason, decided that we had to have goals. So we, the workers, were directed to sit down and write up our goals.

Having recently retired from the Air Force, I was not familiar with this stuff. But I figured I would play along and see what this was all about. So I put down my goal as something like this: "Make a crap-ton of money and retire while I'm still young enough to enjoy it."

Ehhhhhhh! Wrong answer.

Seems that my goals had to "align" with the company's goals. So I wrote down the company's goals inserting the appropriate name and personal pronouns so that my goals were, essentially, exactly the same as the company's goals.

Ehhhhhhh! Wrong answer. (Again.)

Hhhmm, if this was Family Feud, I only had one more shot. So I asked a colleague what he had. He e-mailed me his goals. As we were on the same project and were at the same level, I took his, modified them and submitted them. The company was pleased. For the time being.

Now this week I get an e-mail from my Section Manager, asking me to update my goals and accomplishments (G&A) for to prepare for my mid-year review. I replied (for the second time, last week I had the same e-mail) that I had updated this stuff a week ago. The reply indicated that I had not yet "acknowledged" these self-same goals and accomplishments.

So I navigated to the appropriate website and noted that I had updated my G&A the week before. Hhhmm, going one level deeper I noted a little check box for the employee (moi) to "acknowledge" the good ole G&A. Wonderful, I thought. I fill out the little blocks of text, the computer notes that it's me doing it and when I save my G&A, the computer also logs the date and time. So why do I need a freaking acknowledgement of what I just did? Some pencil-necked software geek no doubt thought it was a good idea to have this little check box on the form. (As I am technically a software guy I can say things like this. I say technically because I have not written a line of code in years. Not that I didn't want to, but the company had other things it wanted me to do.)

I suppose someone else could hack into my account and give me some G&A that I might not agree with. So they put a little check box in. Why couldn't the same hacker also check the little box? Don't know, don't care. I'll just play the corporate game and pretend like I actually give a crap. (I do care deeply about the job I do, it's the corporate games I don't give a crap about. Just sayin'...)

In reality, my team lead gives me a set of tasks to perform. I'm also given dates for when these tasks need to be accomplished. Then I go forth and do those tasks, to the best of my ability. So why not write down what tasks I'm given and the dates they need to be accomplished? The tasks would be my "goals", the dates these tasks were completed would be a measure of effectiveness, i.e. my accomplishments.

Unfortunately my taskings change based on the needs of the project. My tasking at 0730 might be completely different from what my tasking is at 1330. Not that the first task was completed, just that a different task has taken on a higher priority. To give a military aviation example: If given the task of intercepting incoming attack aircraft, I will focus on that task. Unless I have some enemy fighter jock at my six, then shaking that guy, getting the advantage on him and blowing his Gomer a$$ out of the sky becomes a higher priority task. When Gomer is dispatched, then I can refocus on the first task.

Not that my job is that exciting. But I needed desperately to talk about something aviation-related for a moment. Also it sounds cool.

So I could update the old G&A every time these things change. But then one of my goals would be to update my goals and I would spend more time doing that than actual work. (Incidentally, that was once a MANDATORY goal for all of us worker bees. Yup, it was a goal to update one's goals. I kid you not.)

Now in previous posts I sometimes gave the impression that I didn't like flying. I love flying and I think I cleared that misunderstanding up nicely. Now if I'm giving you the impression that I have a deep loathing of "all things corporate", that is intentional. I absolutely loathe the corporate world. It is nothing more than a (sometimes necessary) layer between the customer and the builder/producer of things a customer wants/needs.

The corporate world also has their own language. They don't do things every day, they do things "on a daily basis". They don't have plans, they have "a way ahead". They don't have lessons learned, they have "take aways". They don't re-use things, they "leverage" them. They don't have instructors, they have "facilitators". And my real favorite: they don't have good processes, they have "best practices". Oh yes, I do loathe the bastards in their dark blue blazers, light blue shirts, grey slacks and be-tasseled loafers. But no tie, heaven forbid do not wear a tie. We want the worker bees to think that we're all "regular guys who don't like wearing ties." Harrumph.

I had it explained to me once that the whole idea behind having goals was to help me "grow" as an employee. Whatever made them think that I wanted to "grow" as an employee? I want to do my job, learn new stuff if it's applicable to my job, get paid every two weeks and eventually retire (again). With enough money to allow me to live "comfortably", however one defines that. I know for sure that the Missus and I have two totally different views on how one defines "comfortable".

Personally I think we're doing very well compared to most Americans. To hear the Missus tell it, we might as well live in Appalachia, learn how to play the banjo and let all of our teeth fall out. My word, we might as well live in a double-wide for all my company appreciates me. (I have gone overalls and straw hat shopping, the Missus says "we are not amused". She might also ask: "What are all those tubs, jars and copper tubing for?" Me: "Why heck-fire darlin' I's fixin' to build ma-self a still. Then we can sell 'shine and make a few bucks. Just watch out for them thar revenooers." Again, she is not amused. With apologies to actual hill folk and moonshiners. I have a deep and abiding respect for your way of life. It's just that the Missus views that as a living nightmare. It's all for entertainment purposes... No really, come on now Jed, put down the shotgun and I'll leave real quiet like.)

So goals, yes I have goals. Like maybe have a Guinness after work, maybe get out an extra post this week. If I "grow" as an employee, it's due to my efforts, it's not based on "the way ahead" of some corporate baboon. Oooh, another goal, fly under the radar and hope the corporate types leave me alone long enough to get product out the door. Without having to go to a meeting to do so.

Oh yeah, I forgot, another goal... cut the damn grass.


  1. I'm not sure corporate baboons appreciate being called corporate baboons- no matter how much this title is deserved. I only say that to help you "grow" as an employee! I doubt they're readers though so you're probably cleared in hot here.

  2. Another thought, I'm sure your average run-of-the-mill baboon would be insulted at being compared to a corporate type. Thank you though, I think I just felt a growth spurt! (Nope, I was laughing so hard I spilled coffee on myself, no spurting here.) Cleared in hot aye! But I have work to do so I better get my "butt in Gere". Oh no I didn't! FOD ALERT!

  3. I was fortunate in that after I left the AF I hired in with EDS when Ross Perot owned the company and things were good. There was some corporate BS... there always IS... but it was the minimum essential stuff required to do bid'niz. And then things went downhill... GM bought the company, Perot was forced to resign about a year later, and EDS became more like GM than GM. It was sad.

    But... that's all preamble. About a year into the GM-ization we went through that "goals" thing. I sat down with my manager (a friend of mine, actually) and solemnly slid my goals across the table to him, chief among which were "take a REAL vacation" and "get laid more often." He deadpanned on all of 'em and said "I'll talk to Paula" (the ex's name) about that getting laid thing. He and I had the exact same approach to the ridiculous exercise. The goals thing was dropped about six months later.

    All THAT said... I did 16 years with EDS and they were very, very good to me.

    1. Now those were goals I could sign up for! My outfit hasn't dropped the goals things yet. We're heavily into metrics, metrics about everything except production. We even have a metric for meeting attendance! Sigh, I wish I was kidding.


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