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  • Liz Cruz

In my Professional Opinion…Capitalism is Gross

It's one of the grossest things white supremacy has created

It’s performance review/promotion season for many, and y’all…a bunch of my folks are sitting in feeling “undervalued, unseen, underappreciated, fucked with.” 🤮I’m working with one person who absolutely, positively should have gotten promoted this month but got pushed back for at least another 6 months. They’re surrounded by a bunch of leaders who don’t seem to want to do anything that’s a little bit hard to help them move forward. Another client who’s a nonprofit leader received a set of mean-spirited (and frankly, racist) comments on their performance review - from a board member! 🤬 Both of these folks are dealing with big hits to their leadership confidence from these experiences.

Photo of wall with a graffitti that reads shut down capitalism

If this resonates with you…I’m so sorry. Here’s what I want to say to you: You are a powerful person in a disempowering situation. Systems of oppression are always working to amass and express power, and performance review time is a moment where the veil is thin - we can often see the mechanics of how capitalism, misogyny, queer/transphobia and white supremacy operate in our organizations. Please know that if you’re feeling less than fully powerful right now, that’s by design (I’m telling you…gross).

When your confidence is compromised, how do you take care of yourself?

You might try writing a letter to yourself, reminding yourself of all of the ways that you’re powerful/resourceful/talented/whatever you need to hear. If that feels hard to do, grab a trusted friend or colleague and swap reminders for one another. My client who didn’t get that promotion sat down with the leveling guidelines and gave themselves all of the affirmation that they needed about the fact that, yeah, they sure did deserve it…and that led to them giving self-permission to start applying for other roles. My client with the negative comments on their performance review is working on clarifying the values and practices that define their most authentic leadership. 

You are a powerful person in a disempowering situation.

Whatever it is that helps you to find yourself amidst the noise, I hope you’ll give it to yourself. You deserve peace and ease as you navigate oppressive systems and all of the gross stuff that happens within them.


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Rob Wherrett
Rob Wherrett

My recommendation is to push back against such reviews. Best practice says that the worker should set the objectives in collaboration with their manager at the beginning of the period. They should also agree the metrics that will be applied and where those are going to be evidenced. If, when it comes to the review, their own assessment based on those metrics and those of the boss are wildly different that requires a discussion. It sounds like the cases you refer to have got management who haven't a clue about objective job appraisal - so there's an opportunity to go and educate...

Liz Cruz
Liz Cruz

Agreed about all of the best practices you name here, Rob. I would love to see more organizations engage with equitable, employee-driven goal setting and review processes.

And, as much as I wish it wasn't so...frequently even "objective" feedback is laced with bias, power, ulterior motives, and so on (especially because the annual review process is part of the employee lifecycle, and is used by organizations to move people up or out of the organization).

In both of these cases, that's exactly what's going on - the first person's feedback amounted to "we all agree you should be promoted, and you're ready now...but we don't want to give you the pay increase for another six months." This is not an…

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