I am on my way to the theatre, having changed into the streetcar at Ostbahnhof on my way to the Kammerspiele and being full of pleasant anticipation, because I am going to see Josef Bierbichler in “Das letzte Band” by Samuel Beckett (it is a guest performance of the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz Berlin) on this Tuesday, May, 26th, 2009, around 6.15 p.m. I chose the streetcar because of the terrible hailstorm and with this weather the best chance to stay dry lies in jumping into the streetcar at Ostbahnhof.
I share the small streetcar stop and its roof with two typical YTE’s (Young Tough Executives), both of whom look like DINKs (Double Income No Kids) Their conversation is very dynamic (i.e. loud), so I can hardly avoid eavesdropping (which, admittedly, is not altogether unintentional).
One of them tells of his great job in a big enterprise where he is happy about all the responsibility over employees he has been given. The other one listens respectfully and occasionally makes an approving sound.
Each year, he has to do an achievement discussion with his employees – and there are quite a few of them. Among other things, the employee is categorized in this discussion. As I understood it, there are the four following categories:
A – Over performer – decidedly made for more – will soon climb the career ladder
B – Over performer– but will have to wait a little – before he will be “fit for more”
C – Adequate performer– his achievement is stable and suitable – however not career material.
D – Underperformer – let us get rid of him/her as soon as possible.
Deeply moved, I listen. Naturally, everything has been beautifully considered beforehand and embedded into processes.
For me, this is a horror scenario. Is it really impossible for big enterprises to rely on other criteria than these when evaluating “employee development”? Is this really the best we can come up with when talking “development of human resources”?
I mistrust goal-oriented systems. For instance, how to categorize a programmer? Which criteria to take for the ever-present “benchmarking”?
Should we really categorize our employees in this way? Doesn’t that sound a lot like means to an end?
Can “achievement” really be so easily measured? Doesn’t the image of man become an image of the machine?
Incidentally, the Beckett performance was great – in a way, it was fitting after the conversation I had listened in on.
(translated by EG)