This may sound a bit strange, but after all these years of working, I have  only received one performance review. The boss sat me down and said, “I don’t like doing these, but it’s for the audit, and I have to do it. Here it is. Just keep doing what you’re doing.” He followed that by saying, “Sometimes I think that you have no idea how good you actually are.”

I took that as a sign of a positive performance review and would have no bearing on why I was laid off four years later.

I have had other reviews where I was actually fired or quit – both included buy-outs. They had nothing to do, however, with performance.

The result of these are that I have no idea what one should do to survive a performance review. I have one coming up this week, and I have an idea that I’m going to survive it. If your review is coming up, you might be able to follow my lead and prepare for it. Here are some totally untried tips:

1. Examine the evidence.

Are there any reasons that might cause you to suspect the review will be in your favour. I my case, I noticed that about a month ago my name went up on the door. And it was spelled correctly. If they were planning to send me away, I suppose someone else’s name would have been placed there instead.  I also noted that the program coordinator commended me for doing a good job. I blushed.

In the last position where I was laid off, I had an idea that I wouldn’t  survive because we lost the contract. That would have been on someone else’s performance review. In the last place Y left, I noted that a shop steward attended all the meetings I had – a very bad sign.

2. Come equipped with success stories.

An old friend of mine used to approach people at cocktail parties and ask”… and what do you do to justify your existence?”

I would hate to think that my upcoming  meeting would resemble a cocktail party in any way. There will be too many bosses there. Nevertheless, the question is valid. I will have a few stories to tell where my clients have landed positions with my help, or in spite of me. (Either way it counts in my book. My clients usually find better jobs that I can.)

I can also point out how my wait list has grown after I announced to the rest of the staff that I have had some modicum of success.

3. Have a Plan B.

If I find that things aren’t going my way, I treat my review as if I were a fitness instructor that kept pork and beans on the table during my periods of unemployment. As an instructor, I have a mantra which says, “If you can’t be fit you can at least be funny.”

If you don’t like my performance of the last 6 months, here’s a poem I rote. Then I would recite:

Once you told me, long ago, when we first started dating,

That we could buy a house one day, and there commence our mating.

But you said first to tone that body, neck to flabby thigh,

You’ve got to be in better shape if you want to catch my eye.


I hoisted iron, I humped and pumped. I put ripples in my trunk,

I became an aerobics instructor; and, in short, became a hunk.

It’s a habit for me, now. I have little fat left to burn,

Now I’m happy with myself. Baby, now it’s your turn.


Come and take my class with me. I’ll check and tell you when.

But I can’t go, I have my reasons. Here, I’ll give you ten.

Number ten, I’d love to go, but I’d anticipate the worst,

I can’t put on that Spandex stuff without being shape first.


Number nine, is fitness angst. The part I’ve always hated,

I can’t do your class with you, I’m too uncoordinated.

Number eight, to cut this out, would be tantamount to joking.

For me to do your class with you, I’d have to give up smoking.


Number seven, I can’t go, don’t make me go there Please,

I detect a stiff affliction in my neck and in my knees.

Number six. I have no time. I’d only be a novice,

With all that busy work I do, I get a work out at the office.


Number five concerns the things that you have but I lack.

For I have no endorphines. That’s why I’m on prozac.

Number four. Feeling silly and old. There’s just too much to


That brings us down to number three. Someone stole my shoes.


Number two, none of my friends are into this but you,

There’s nobody to go with. Dating the instructor wouldn’t do.

That brings us down to number one. My anonymity.

I can’t do your class with you. Everyone will notice me.


Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .
He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.
He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”
He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.







  1. Sharon Says:

    So clever. But no worries, you’ll ace that review.

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