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How NOT To Give Me a Performance Review

A Practical Example

By Judey Kalchik Published 12 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Author selfie 6/6/24

Ten years ago, during a yearly review, I was coached regarding my professional appearance. Advised to ‘wear more makeup’, be fashionable, be on brand.

On the way home I called my daughter, asking for her opinion; in our relationship my daughters and I don’t ask for opinions unless we want to hear the truth.

I was in tears, already afraid that age (54 , then) would eliminate my chances of corporate success, no matter how capable I was.

I’d prepared for a discussion about my results and contributions, not about my looks.

And as someone that struggled through an eating disorder, childhood trauma, and food addiction: I just kept thinking ‘Of course. I’m not attractive; of course I am failing.’

So I got up extra early each day to do my hair and makeup. Changed my jewelry to a classic but always present staple, went on (yet another) diet, exercised through the day, and wore a wardrobe of ‘black, black, and color accent.’

I built the Judey -brand to fit that coaching. I remade myself as instructed and learned to swallow down the ‘I’m not enough’ fear everyday.

I thought about that discussion as I got ready for work today (63 and holding, and in a different career); it’s a busy day today.

I have meetings, a Zoom presentation to give to professional comic shop organization about preparing for disaster, and book and comic people who are in the middle of personal and financial catastrophes to help. There’s a big trade show in New Orleans, Louisiana next week, and I’ll be there.

I’m doing these things. Sometimes I'm doing them is jeans and a tshirt, with my hair in a banana clip, sometimes (like today) I have a dress and semi-combed hair. Sometimes it's at a convention and I'm wearing a superhero-themed dress that I sewed myself.

It varies by the day, by how much sleep I've had, by the weather, by all of the many things that influence a life.

What doesn't vary is the professionalism I bring to the table. The compassion and diligence I employ every day. The belief that I'm making a difference.

True: the world has changed in the past 10 years. More and more jobs are done remotely, more offices are closing as businesses adapt to the changing needs of the business and the flexibility and technology that comes with those changes.

Still- there are leaders getting ready to have those types of conversations today, this week, this month, this year. I strongly suggest that they make that conversation about things that are more than skin deep.

As long as any dress code is maintained and hygiene isn't a question, then LET IT GO. Keep your focus on what the employee brings to the table and not how they look.

Me? I still get nervous; I still have doubts about what I bring to the table. I still am critical of the way I look, how I fit my clothes. I am very very very aware of my good fortune to not only have a job, but also that it is one to which I am deeply committed and enjoy. I do not take this for granted.

I also enjoyed the work I did back then. The supervisor that gave me that feedback? I am sure he thought he was giving me good advice, and that making me into a brand-ideal was good for... well, was likely good for him and his team if not good for me. Window dressing, if you will. The ability to make someone change.

But mostly? Mostly today I’m OK with me, with me at 63.

I am enough. Just the way I am.


This article came out of a Facebook post I made today. I truly got ready for work this morning, and as I was searching for earrings I thought of the devastation I felt after that performance review.

For just a moment that shame, fear, and (yes) anger surged up and I knew it was time to let that go. As a writer, this is how I work through that.

This is where I work now: I'm a Program Manager for Binc: a nonprofit that assists the employees and owners of bookstores and comic shops when they have an unexpected personal catastrophe that leads to financial need. I'm very happy to be here.

Thank you for reading. Comments are always welcomed.


About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (17)

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  • Muhammad Safdar5 days ago

    The key point from this article for me is I am enough. Just the way I am.

  • I was sure I had read and commented, I am lucky that my place has excellent performance reviews and is amazingly supportive. Excellent article

  • Khan8 days ago

    I loved the line 'I am enough, just the way I am'. Beautiful ❤️ Congratulations on top story

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Babs Iverson9 days ago

    Judey, you don't want to know how I feel in regards to performance reviews. Delighted you are happy in your current position!!💕❤️❤️

  • Jay Kantor9 days ago

    'j' - Being a 'Non' Writer; just an old storyteller/sketch guy. There are (2) famous quotes: "Just as I am" (Air Supply) and "I'm just Happy to be here" (Ringo Starr). I, for one, am always so happy you're here in our VillageBucket. btw; Safe Trip to N.O. ~ May your Pearl-Lei's be plentiful...! 'j'.in.l.a.

  • Cindy Calder9 days ago

    Bravo! This is a great piece of work that cites such a valid and disturbing aspect in the unfairness that is sometimes experienced in performance reviews. As a working woman of 66 who just retired, I saw it occur too frequently. So happy you’re “okay” with YOU now. What an achievement!

  • Gael MacLean9 days ago

    Excellent post- why is it so hard "I am enough. Just the way I am." rhetorical question.

  • Gene Lass9 days ago

    Excellent article. I'm of a similar age group and have had similar thoughts in the last few years. I think one of few good things that came out of the pandemic is the reality of remote work and the easing of corporate dress expectations. 30 years ago I had business attire for every day of the week. 20 years ago it was business casual. Today, as I do Google meet or Zoom calls with industry experts, the CEO and CFO of our company, my boss the President of the company, and others, we're all in tshirts or polos, sometimes shaved, sometimes not, sometimes hair is combed, sometimes not. But we all get the job done. Also, I've been a comic fan and been in the orbit of small and large book and shop owners for most of my life. I love the idea of your nonprofit. That industry is struggling. I'm glad you're there to help.

  • JBaz9 days ago

    Back to say congratulations gratulations. Well deserved

  • Novel Allen10 days ago

    Is anyone ever as confident as The devil wears Prada lady boss, nope, not in real life, the best of us have doubts. Life sails us on different ships, so happy you are happy on yours.

  • kp11 days ago

    this was a wonderful reflection and cathartic release. tysm for sharing your perspective on this all-too-relatable experience.💙

  • "As long as any dress code is maintained and hygiene isn't a question, then LET IT GO. Keep your focus on what the employee brings to the table and not how they look." PREACH!! SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!

  • Andrea Corwin 12 days ago

    What an ahole. I come from Fed HR and totally inappropriate. There are always managers who think they know everything and don’t need to follow guidelines on the performance reviews. Private sector gets away with a lot more. Horrible, glad you got over it and as long as you are a pro at your work, that is what counts. Glad you are not at that place now.

  • Shirley Belk12 days ago

    Judey, thank you for writing this. It is sad that skin-deep is the only depth that some know. But you keep being you and show them what deep really means!

  • Interesting read Judey... And yes you are enough, just the way you are!

  • Andy Potts12 days ago

    Not sure I've ever had a useful performance review. Highlights included "perhaps you could look at reducing travel time to events" when I was a beat reporter following a sports team around the country (because, yeah, if I snap my fingers, Manchester moves towards me). Or "we'd like you to be stronger with our social media, but we're not able to offer you any specific training." And then I wonder why I prefer to freelance. If we just do us, it all seems to work out in the end.

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