Stuck with a Bad Performance Review—Making It Worse

April 6, 2010

A bad review can be a temporary set back or it can be the beginning of a quagmire and drag you down. There is a lot on the line here—money, prestige, future prospects, so it is important to understand the consequences of your actions in the weeks following the review.

Regardless of the reason (Dealing with a bad employee performance appraisal) ,you are stuck with this review for a year. It is not the end of the world or of your prospects for a good career with the employer. The first impulse to change employers is never the best immediate option.

Career consultants have a lot of classical advice on how to get on track; People usually ignore it or cannot use it. The opposite approach is considered here. There are three actions that will make your situation worse. Watch yourself to see if they apply to you.

Complain

No doubt about it, you got an unfair deal. The reasons that it was unfair are specific to your situation. It may be that your work was not valued, your boss was out to get you, or that they don’t like your personal style. Make sure your side of the story is told so that you can be vindicated. Take opportunities to get the story out. Some people hedge on this and only tell “trusted” friends. Complaints can be made in e-mails to a few select friends.

Negative comments have an interesting way of making their way back to the managers. This news tends to harden their position that you are an underperformer. The opposite approach is to keep your negative opinions out of the light. If possible, even send messages that things are going to improve.

Take It Personally

Ouch. A lower than expected review hurts emotionally as well as professionally Don’t see the performance evaluation for what it is–an opinion about you that serves different purposes. The real way to make the situation worse is to take it as an attack on your personal self worth. This approach allows the hurt to fester and internalize so that the pain continues to renew itself. That way there is no opportunity to put the experience behind and move on. Eventually, a negative air occupies the space around you. Your energy will decrease. Your co-workers will notice it.

If you are having trouble moving on, talk to someone outside of workplace who can help you.

Stay the Course

Make no changes and hope that the situation rights itself.

Sure, some conditions improve on their own, such as a cold that runs its course in a week. Other situations just lead to more trouble. The odd sound from the automobile engine doesn’t go away. The situation is similar here. The bad evaluation is just the first noise; Your situation will likely get worse if you just keep plugging along. Just persevere and be confident that that management will see the error of their ways and reward you.

Don’t make the effort to calmly follow-up and understand what has to change from the arbitrary and unfair perspective of the bosses. Ignore the fact that managers like to see improvement and tend to reward it significantly in the next review cycle. If your boss cannot help you, actively seek someone who can. (Looking for a Teacher, Asking for a Boss)

Getting a bad review is like finding a footprint in newly poured concrete. You can ignore it and let it harden or do some work to smooth it over, with no long term consequences. It is a matter of the right efforts at the right time to minimize the effect of the review.


Advertising Zen

April 6, 2010

“A Zen Master was asked whether Zen should not be propagated to some extent in our times which are in such need of its qualities.  Would not more availability, some publicity, public sermons and the like be more useful?  His answer was both characteristic and a fundamental summing up.  He replied that, after careful pondering, he could not see any positive harm resulting from such propagation.  As to the good it would do, he was extremely doubtful.  For even if it did not go in by one ear and out by the other, even if it produced a sizable uplift, by the time the person had gone home and sat down to the family dinner, it would all be gone.  The real propagation, he thought, would be for the would-be propagators to settle themselves down and cleanse their own heart yet again.  For in doing so there springs up in the human hear such a deep fountain of love that it cannot possibly be contained in one’s own hear, but needs some flow.  And since everybody, even the worst criminal, has that same human heard which is directly touched by such love, words are really not necessary.  There is a coming into ambience, a touch, a link, and the person so touched may of his own volitions start walking the Way.”

The excerpt above is from The Wisdom of the Zen Masters by Irmgard Schloeal, a Rinzai nun who lived in England (1921-2007).   The book was published in 1976, New Directions Paperback (Quote from Pg 19).

It would be preferable to have a specific reference, but Schloeal does not identify the Zen Teacher, and after 30 years, it has not been traced.  Yet the view is helpful since it runs counter to many activities of organizations. It provides an opportunity to refresh our own perspective.


Cause of Common Accidents–Story

February 21, 2010

A master gardener, famous for his skill in climbing and pruning the highest trees, examined his disciple by letting him climb a very high tree. Many people had come to watch. The master gardener stood quietly, carefully following every move but not interfering with one word. Having pruned the top, the disciple climbed down and was only ten feet from the ground when the master suddenly yelled: “Take care, take care!” When the disciple was safely down an old man asked the master gardener: “You did not let out one word when he was aloft in the most dangerous place. Why did you caution him when he was nearly down? Even if he had slipped then, he could not have greatly hurt himself.” “But isn’t it obvious?” replied the master gardener. “Right up at the top he is conscious of the danger, and of himself takes care. But near the end, when one begins to feel safe, this is when accidents occur.”

Comment: It certainly is the case that accidents tend to occur at the end of the working day when people are comfortable with their surroundings, tired, and let their attention down.

A more technical description is in the short article: Preventing Common Household Accidents

Source: Schloeal, Irmgard; The Wisdom of the Zen Masters, New Directions 1975, Pg 52

 

Additional Stories

This is a link to a Collection of Zen Stories     (usefulzenwords.com)


Unobstructed and Immediate

February 19, 2010

These verses are the remnants of short dharma talks. All of the commentary, examples, explications, context etc. have been stripped away so that the verses can be experienced individually. These teachers got to the heart of the matter succinctly (There are so many words these days that it is easy to be distracted by the presentation) References to the full work are made where possible.

Unobstructed and Immediate

I

Apply your spiritual energy before desire arises
The mind will be shining bright, alone and liberated
It will be clear everywhere and revealed in everything
(Ta-hui, Swampland Flowers, Zen Sourcebook 119)

II

The obstruction of the Path by the mind and its conceptual discrimination is worse than poisonous snakes or fierce tigers.  Why? Because poisonous snakes and fierce tigers can still be avoided, whereas intelligent people make the mind’s conceptual discrimination their home, so that there’s never a singe instant, whether they’re walking, standing, sitting or lying down, that they’re not having dealings with it.  (Ta-hui 121)

III

Like following a road where it is set and familiar, then we think that is all there is.

IV

A flash of lightning
Sparks of fire from flint.
If your eyes blink,
It’s already gone.
(Wu-men-kuan Case 21)

V

You don’t need fine phrases
Before you speak the answer is there
If you just chatter on
Knowing will become deceiving
(Wu-men-kuan Case 24)


Trust in Mind-Verses

February 19, 2010

These verses are the remnants of short dharma talks. All of the commentary, examples, explications, context etc. have been stripped away so that the verses can be experienced individually. These teachers got to the heart of the matter succinctly (There are so many words these days that it is easy to be distracted by the presentation) References to the full work are made where possible.

Trust in Mind

I

The Great Way is not difficult
Just don’t pick and choose
Cut off all likes and dislikes
And it is clear like space.

II

Outside don’t get tangle up in things.
Inside, don’t get lost in emptiness.
Be still and become One,
And confusion stops by itself.

III

Do not live in the world of opposites.
Be careful! Never go that way.
If you make right and wrong,
Your mind is lost in confusion.

IV

Nothing is left behind
Nothing stays with us.
Bright and empty,
The mind shines by itself.

(Trust in Mind Seng-ts’an (Sozan), from Zen Sourcebook, Addiss et al editor,2008)


Impermanence-Verses

February 19, 2010

These verses are the remnants of short dharma talks. All of the commentary, examples, explications, context etc. have been stripped away so that the verses can be experienced individually. These teachers got to the heart of the matter succinctly  (There are so many words these days that it is easy to be distracted by the presentation) References to the full work are made where possible.

Impermanence

I

One may ask, “How can thought and mental acts arise without an object?” To remove this doubt, there is comparison to a mirage.—Here thought and mental acts correspond to the mirage, and the object to the water. When a mirage makes it appearance, no real water is there, and yet the notion of real water arises. (2)

II

One may ask, “How in the absence of objects, can different verbal expressions arise?” In answer things are compared to an echo.—An echo is not a real sound, and yet it is heard. Similarly verbal expressions are not real things, and yet they are understood. (6)

III

One may ask, “ How, in the absence of an object, can the images apperceived in trance arise?” In answer, things are compared to the moon reflect in water,–The moon reflected in water is not really in the water, and yet, because the water is wet and limpid, the moon is seen in it. So with concentrated thought. The objects which form its range are not real things, and yet they are perceived, the state of trance playing the part of the water. (7)

(Asanga Mahayanasamgraha II, 27 in Buddhist Texts through the Ages (Conze et al editor, 1964)

IV

Forms don’t hinder emptiness; emptiness is the tissue of form.
Emptiness isn’t the destruction of form; form is the flesh of emptiness.
Inside the Dharma gates where form and emptiness are not-two
A lame turtle with brushed eyebrows stand in the evening breeze. (31)

V

A boundless unencumbered space, open, empty, still,
Earth, its hills and rivers, are only names, nothing more.
You can quarter the mind, lump all forms into one,
They’re still just echos murmuring through empty ravines. (42)

(Zen Words for the Heart, Hakuin’s Commentary on Heart Sutra, Waddell Editor.)

Dharma talks are often energy transmitted through words with the intention to help further the sitting and the  practice.   The talk may be non-discursive, having no progression from beginning to end.  Just simply sit with attention and listen.  If something resonates with you, allow it in to help with the zazen.  If there is no resonance, simply let it go without looking back or chasing after it. If attention strays during, simply come back to the present; there is no need to try to reconstruct it as a lecture   There is also no need for intellectual analysis as there is nothing to figure out. The energy in the room and the attention are essential to experiencing these talks.


Practice in the World–Zen Verses

February 19, 2010

These verses are the remnants of short dharma talks. All of the commentary, examples, explications, context etc. have been stripped away so that the verses can be experienced individually. These teachers got to the heart of the matter succinctly (There are so many words these  that it is easy to be distracted by the presentation. ) References to the full work are made where possible.

Practice in the World

I

Look and listen, touch and eat
Smell, wander, sit and stand.
Renounce the vanity of discussion
Abandon Thought and be not moved from singleness. (55)

II

Mindfulness is established (by him) precisely to the extent necessary just for knowledge, just for remembrance and he lives independently of and not grasping anything in the world.  (32)

III

Whatever pours forth from the mind
Possesses the nature of the owner
Are waves different from the water
Their nature, like that of space in one and the same  (72)

IV

Do not sit at home, Do not go to the forest.
Recognize mind wherever you are.
When one abides in perfect and complete enlightenment,Where is Samsara and where is Nirvana. (103)

V Capping Summary

He who clings to the Void
And neglects compassion
Does not reach the highest stage.
But he who practices only compassion
Does not gain release from the tools of ignorance.
He whoever is strong in the practice of both
Remains neither in delusion nor Nirvana (112)

Source: 32: The Dhamma,  All others from Saraha’s Treasury of Songs, from  Buddhist Texts through the Ages (Conze et al editor, 1964)

Dharma talks are sometimes experienced as energy transmitted through words with the intention to help further the sitting and the practice. The talk may be non-discursive, having no progression from beginning to end. Just simply sit with attention and listen. If something resonates with you, allow it in to help with the zazen. If there is no resonance, simply let it go without looking back or chasing after it. If attention strays during, simply come back to the present; there is no need to try to reconstruct it as a lecture There is no need for intellectual analysis as there is nothing to figure out. The energy in the room and the attention are essential to experiencing these talks.