‘Work it Out’- with Vivian: Yo-Yo

There are certain nomenclatures that are common in the consulting work environment. Expressions like ‘yo-yo’, ‘obote’, ‘PURE’, ‘greenhorn’ ‘lacks presence’ and the likes. They all describe how ‘management’ perceive certain employees.

Many organizations appraise employees based on set ‘targets’ or sales levels or certain key performance indices associated with the particular role of the employee, but in consulting, one is appraised mostly on what is called ‘total person’ performance. When I say ‘total person’, I mean the candidate is appraised based on work related performance targets and diverse non-work related indices including but not limited to the employee’s taste and style, family, place or area of residence, dressing/ grooming, speed and fluency of speech, one-way driving, quarrel with a spouse, number of children, social presence or influence, shoes, hairdo, friends, mobile phone model, parent’s social status, etc. – practically anything your manager can remember as proof that you do or do not merit a promotion at that instant.

So, imagine that in a moment of high adrenaline, your manager totally exalts you during a particular appraisal meeting, recounting how you are an outstanding candidate, because, for instance, you were able to find the shortest/ fastest route to an important client’s office when you both were running late for a meeting. Or perhaps, how you are an excellent performer because you brought excellent ideas for the venue of the department’s ‘away’ day. Well, the ‘total person’ appraisal can be this intensely emotional sometimes! (I cannot shout).

Then, by next year or the next six months when another cycle of appraisals are taking place, you had just fallen out with this your manager or your manager has just been thoroughly berated and beaten down by his or her own supervisor over a client’s job you are supposed to be handling, and by then the adrenaline and excitement levels are quite on the ebb; your manager would have no choice than to narrate how ‘yo-yo’ your performance has just been over the period; how often he/she had had one-on-one with you on the matter and how ‘challenging’ and depressing the situation had probably been for him/her as your manager. (Sorry o)

So, ‘yo-yo’ performance means an inconsistent performance – you are an ‘exceeding-expectation’ candidate in one year, and the next year, you are barely ‘meeting some expectations’, yet the ‘expectations’ have remained same or not at all significantly changed. 

It is hard to tell though, where the inconsistency lies – in the much subjective ‘total person’ appraisal system; in the manager/ supervisor; or in you – the candidate being appraised. It is hard. The only thing that may seem consistent in the employment scenario would be the month-end paycheck, regardless of whether the amount is increasing, static for so many years, or even decreasing.

I remember an ex-colleague of mine whom nature did not quite bless with a ‘smart’ physique and his mannerisms also towed the line of his looks. No matter how expensive his clothing was, he always had this rural appearance. I could not help asking what his ‘total person’ appraisal would be like, year in, year out as his rural appearance never changes or gets any better – would his bosses say that such a person is ‘not receptive to feedback’? I just wonder…

Enough of the pun and sarcasm. Please permit me to observe that in the employment and business worlds, there are many genuinely yo-yo performers, on measurable and objective performance/ appraisal criteria, particularly among us women.  With all the feminist movement and support for women in work and business going on worldwide, many women still continue to ‘yo-yo’ without much care. I really cannot tell why for certain, as there are always so many factors at play with women.

I listened to Today’s Woman (TW)’s Adesuwa Onyenokwe once addressing a group of women during an ‘International Women’s Day’ event and she said, “One good woman is better than 10 good men put together, and one bad woman is worse than 10 bad men combined”. I cannot doubt this, as nature abinitio bestowed the Woman with the gift of procreativity. So, the so-called ‘bad’ woman, and vice versa, is bound to multiply evil or good, as the case may be, to the space around her. 

I so much cherish good women; women of substance; strong enduring women; the ones who work to change everything for good. Their lights never cease to shine no matter the circumstances they find themselves. They give of themselves fully to every worthy cause and stay true and consistent to it. They are generous with love and open hearted to help and build, not only themselves but the world around them.

I pray for more good women in our world, in our homes, in our boardrooms, in business, in leadership, in church, everywhere. 

I pray for less yo-yo women.

corporate women, Women & Work, women in business, work life

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