360 Degrees

It’s that time of year in our office again: where we are all supposed to do our “360-degree feedback evaluations” of each person in our office.  And the buzzword for this year is “opportunity area”.  If you have an ongoing problem with tardiness, it’s not a weakness; it’s an “opportunity area”.  If you have a prediliction to slicing up your co-workers with paring knives, this is not a murderous impulse, but merely another “opportunity area”.  The idea being that we always look for areas where we have the opportunity to grow and improve.  The kitchenette in your break room, for example, may be the perfect area for an opportunity to upgrade that paring knife to a meat cleaver.

My problem is that I have never had any difficulties with anyone in my office, so it’s difficult for me to come up with “opportunity areas” for anyone.  It’s easy to find strengths with each person: I really enjoy working with so-and-so because I feel he/she is always open to communication new ideas, and very clearly explains why some ideas don’t work instead of just brushing them off.  She may explain, for example, that a paring knife is simply too small and too fragile a weapon to be wielded with any appreciable force, while never making me feel like my murderous impulse is something to be disrespected.  So I do my best to explain in excruciating detail why I enjoy working with each person on my feedback list, and explain why I can’t think of any opportunity areas.

This is why I hope I never end up in a management position.  That would suck.

But let this be a lesson to all of you out there hoping to improve your job situation.  Whenever the interviewer asks you what your strengths and weaknesses are, you simply have to say, “I have no weaknesses; only opportunity areas.  For example, I have found that with all my previous supervisors, I have always had excellent opportunities to practice carving up large slabs of fresh meat with a paring knife.”  Go on, give it a try.  See if you get that PR job.

I’ll be waiting over here.

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