One Week to a Horrible Performance Review!

I shouldn’t be surprised that it was bumped early, but having to listen to a half hour reminder of my failures over the last year is not the way I want to spend the last day of work before I go on maternity leave. Nor is having a joint review by my former boss who has already demoted me (though an official title demotion will likely happen AT the review) and a new boss who doesn’t like me and who is likely being forced to manage me for a few months until he can decide if I stay or go. Probably. Who knows.

Last year I was put on an unofficial PIP. They gave be a “3” on my review, which was overly kind, and the only low number that doesn’t lead to being immediately fired. I was given a 1.7% cost of living increase and told I have a few months to shape up or I’m out. And for a few months it felt like maybe I could pull off a miracle. Even my then boss said I was doing well. I had turned a corner. I stepped up and she seemed happy with my performance. Briefly. Oh-so briefly.

Then, I crashed. I couldn’t keep it up. It became clear I would never be a leader. She reminded me of this at my half-year check in. I’m just—not likable—or something like that. I don’t have the right personality to lead. I never will. I’m going to be put in a new role. I was not given a new title. I was not informed how my colleague would be replacing me (though I basically knew because we are friends.) Nothing was communicated to me other than that I suck and I’m being moved to a role that’s “a better fit for my skills.” In other words “we aren’t firing you yet because you are pregnant and we are making a role for you that sounds like a lateral move so you don’t sue us.” Not that I would. They have enough on me and my failures. I have enough on me to last a lifetime of I give up.

I cry a few times a day. Still. 37 year old grown ass woman and mom of almost 2 and yet I cry because it feels so hopeless. And now that I’ve been banned from all strategic conversations I feel like I’m at the end. Again. But holding on as long as I can so I don’t have to try to find a new job with a newborn and a toddler. And, mostly, so I can try to figure out what job I can get that is remotely sustainable. I don’t know what I’m good at. I have spurts of energy and contributions here and there, but I’m not consistent enough. And I have a personality like nails on a chalkboard, apparently. Either I should run for President of the USA or maybe settle for … oh, I don’t know what. The low paid jobs are the hardest. It’s easier for me to hold a higher paid job than a low one. But I can’t hold any job for that long. The three plus years at this one included 6 months mat leave, and maybe — if I don’t get fired next week — I’ll make it to 4 years with another sleep deprived post baby hiatus. That doesn’t really count. The reality is, I can’t hold down a job. I am hired because I work my ass off and do a billion jobs ok enough until my company is big enough to hire people who know what they are doing. Then they get rid of me.

This performance review is going to be humiliating. I am glad it’s via zoom as I can pinch myself constantly off camera as I do when I try to keep myself from crying or blurting out something pointlessly defensive. I will listen and hope that this review doesn’t involve firing me a day before I’m scheduled to go on maternity leave. That seems pretty harsh, so maybe that isn’t what is happening. Maybe it’s another performance plan, to kick in when I come back. Maybe it’s a long list of documentation of all the ways I fucked up this last year. It certainly isn’t a “4” or a “5.” I’m lucky if it’s a 3 and no financial demotion and no PIP. How could it be anything better than that?

Filling out the self review was rough. I couldn’t think of anything to write and then at the last minute I put too much. I’m embarrassed my new boss (who was not so long ago my peer) will see it. I’m embarrassed that he will also see my compensation, which feels weird as I might be making more than him, which would make him even more likely to give me the axe ASAP. My old role at least made sense at that comp level. New role, not so much. So maybe they reduce my pay. Maybe they want to rush to do the review so I’m not surprised that while on leave my salary has gone down $30k a year.

Or I’m overthinking it and they just want to go over everything so when I come back in April or May they don’t have to deal with it.

Regardless, I’m hoping it is less painful that I expect it will be. I can’t imagine there will be any surprises. They’ve mostly come already. Except a financial and title demotion. That would hurt. But it’s possible. I hope not. In any case, I have one year to hold on and then it’s time to start looking for a new job. I don’t want just any job. I want one where I can be a 4 or 5. I hope I can find it. I am seriously depressed and trying to keep my mind off my never-ending failure. I guess right now I have to breathe through being told how horrible I am by 2 people and thank them for their feedback and then put all my energy on surviving next May through December. The home stretch is in sight ahead.

It is all my fault, the failure and such. But I also can’t figure out how not to fail. I spend too much time thinking about how many months I have left until my life insurance policy makes it past the 2 year look back. I don’t think I’d ever really end my life but sometimes it seems like a good option. I don’t know. I just want a path to being ok. I’m far beyond wanting to be exceptional at anything. I’ve moved on to wanting to support my family. But I can’t even do that consistently. If I get fired now, it would be my first time getting fired as a breadwinner, and with two kids to boot. I’m used to getting fired when there is no mortgage to pay or mouths to feed or lights to keep on—but what happens now? Sure I have a sizable emergency fund but it’s just another sign that I’m incapable of handling life. So. I don’t know. I don’t know how to do any of it. I’m putting so much money into this house and my contractor makes me feel like an idiot and my husband reminds me how I can’t communicate and blames me for the contractor’s confusion and he’s probably right. Meanwhile the circuit for our overhead lights is out and our hot water won’t turn on and I have no idea if any of the work on the house is being done right and I don’t know how to be assertive and ask in a way that gets real answers. This whole house fixing process is a whole new layer of me feeling like absolute shit all the fucking time.

There really is no joy to be had in anything anymore. Except sometimes seeing my son and his happiness and remembering that once upon a time I must have been happy too. I mean, I’m not sure when. From a young age I was taught everything is my fault. That I’m broken. And for a while I thought maybe that was a false narrative. I tried to escape it. But that’s actually the truth. Something is wrong with me. Know me for more than a few minutes and you would notice it too. And, so, this is why I cry. Maybe it’s self pity. Hopelessness. A muffled cry for help that I silence because there is nothing that can help. I just have to keep moving. Get through a day at a time. Eventually the days will add up. My investments will compound. One day I’ll get somewhere. But I don’t know where it is I am going. And I don’t even know if I’ll notice when I reach the destination.

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4 thoughts on “One Week to a Horrible Performance Review!”

  1. From a 30,000 ft perspective, I think you should consider getting the hell out of Silicon valley. It’s not just absurdly expensive, the quality of life is not good. People in other places can live more balanced lives. Consider moving to Austin, for example. Far more easily said than done, but I worked in Silicon valley for 20 years, and it’s become a caricature of itself. The culture is flat out toxic now. You shouldn’t try to fit into it. Seriously, consider getting out before it corrodes you. The suicidal thoughts are a worrisome sign that things are not right. You could probably sell your house in a year or two for a profit, and be more financially secure and professionally happy someplace else. Visualize a place where everyone isn’t a money grabbing Facebook wannabe.

    1. I’m feeling like this may be a good option in a few years. It’s hard because my husband grew up here and his family is here. But I am tired and want to be able to enjoy life, not feel like I’m constantly risking losing everything if I don’t work 24/7 and never see my family. My husband doesn’t get it. I mean, we’ve talked about maybe moving to Seattle (I don’t like it there and it’s not that much cheaper) – we can’t agree on anywhere else. I’m just over it. I am going to hold on for another year to at least get my stock, but I can’t handle life here anymore. I don’t know if moving would help but it would be nice if my husband understood what the stress does to me… either he makes more than 90k or we move.

  2. I don’t think they’ll fire you before you give birth. You’re so close that you could go into labor at any time, and they wouldn’t want to get blamed for sending a pregnant woman into premature labor by firing her right before the holidays.

    1. I don’t really think they will either. I’m actually quite curious what will happen in this review. A year ago, I was put on a performance plan and for a while it was looking like I wouldn’t have a job past June. I purposefully did not tell my boss I was pregnant, because if I was kept I wanted to make sure I was kept on for the right reasons. And I managed to do really well in the first half of the year. There was no more mention of the performance plan. It wasn’t officially ended… but it was never really official in the first place. Just a lot of documentation so they can easily fire me at any point. I finally told my boss I was pregnant and that is when things went downhill. I was taken off the group’s leadership team and unofficially demoted to a simpler job with less responsibility. I haven’t actually failed at the new job yet… outside of one very awkward zoom meeting I led that went to shit (I thought my boss was about to fire me immediately after that meeting but luckily she didn’t.) My big question now is do they demote me officially at the performance review – in title ald and/or pay. I would think they’d be hesitant to reduce my pay a week before I go on leave, but perhaps if I am demoted in title they have to do that, and they have enough evidence to back up why I failed in my role at my level. At the same time, when I joined the org 3+ years ago, my title was the same and my role was never clear. So maybe I keep the comp for now. I don’t know if I get put on another PIP. I have to do my review with my old boss (who clearly wants to fire me) and my new boss (who reluctantly is dealing with me for now.) They probably want to document enough that they CAN fire me once HR gives them the green light (or at least have the option to) without completely destroying my motivation or making me feel like this is more about me going on my second mat leave at this company vs actual performance issues. Anyway, it’s going to be uncomfortable and sad but I’ll deal. I have some RSUs to vest and a baby to have and I’m still quite motivated to prove I’m good at my job… my new one. Or at least decent enough at it that when I do leave… they maybe feel a little bad they didn’t try to keep me. Or, that’s dream world, but it would be nice to not get fired.

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