About two weeks ago I celebrated my second year at my job. As always, I freaked out about sitting down for a normal review. I know I do a great job, but the past few months have been hard on me. Not difficult as far as job scope, but difficult in that I just feel like I’ve had so much to do that I’m overwhelmed. I also unwilling to give my work away to my co-admin because to me it sends a signal that I can’t handle my workload. Which I can. It’s just that sometimes my workload entails a lot of little projects that get lost amidst the bigger ones.
The other issue is that I tend to sweat the small stuff. Because to me, ANY error is unacceptable. Yes, I’m human, blah blah blah, but I still demand perfection in all work that I have a hand in. So even running in the 98th percentile tells me I have a lot to improve upon.
Last year I knew I’d have a great review – I had only been there a year and had done a LOT to improve the department. I knew they didn’t have anything bad to say. Well, this year, given the 2-3 months of (what felt like) constant small mistakes led me to really dread this year.
I mentioned it briefly to one of my bosses (not the one doing the review) and he mocked me and said, “Are you kidding me? Get out of here with that. You’re fine.” Yes, I know I’m fine, but I don’t strive to be fine. I strive to be excellent. Fine is far from excellent.
So it was with more-than-typical trepidation that I went into my main boss’s office for my review a couple weeks ago. She prefaced it by saying, “You are as close to perfect as it gets.” At that point I inwardly sighed in relief and visibly relaxed in my chair.
She only had two “opportunities to improve” over the next year, and they cracked me up. 1) Delegate work. She doesn’t WANT me to feel like I need to do everything and asked that I give up some work not because I’m overwhelmed but because I simply can’t do everything. And so she instructed me to give more work to my co-admin and that I’m authorized to do that since technically I’m above her in title. I cringed at that, citing the fact that Co-Admin has been there for over 20 years, and my boss said, “But she knows that you are at a higher level, and she really enjoys working with you, so don’t be afraid to give her things.”
The second opportunity? Um. Try to be less of a perfectionist. I laughed out loud when she said that one. I told her I can’t help it, and that I get aggravated when I made small mistakes that shouldn’t be made. For instance, I do the daily pager list for our department and it drives me nuts when I either leave someone on the list that is not in that day, or forget to put someone on that is working with us for the day. To me, if I do that 1-2 times in a 5-day week then I feel like I’ve failed. When I mentioned that to my boss during my review she said, “Trust me, that’s not a mistake. It’s not a big deal – so we cross a name off, or we write a name in – that’s not a mistake. A mistake would be if you failed to do the pager list AT ALL for the day. THAT’S a mistake.”
She has a point. That daily pager list shows the 50 or so people working that day and is faxed out to the entire hospital every morning. So if I forgot to do that, I’d be in a heap of trouble. Well, maybe not a heap, but plenty enough.
In the end, I told her I’d stop being so hard on myself and would also try to delegate more work. She told me the amount of my raise, told me I was never allowed to leave her, and sent me on my way.
And I was so happy that I completely forgot to do the pager list for the next day. Just kidding. I did it. And I didn’t get stressed out when an error on the list was discovered the next morning.