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Working Strategies: Tips for surviving your annual performance review

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Working Strategies: No, really — ‘Why do you want this job?’

Fall is here, along with the fourth quarter of the business calendar. In some companies, annual performance reviews are right around the corner.

Amy Lindgren

For many employees, being reviewed can be a fraught process, too heavily weighted with measures that seem to lack meaning, such as the ubiquitous scale of 1 to 5 — based on what as the actual meaning of 5?

If you’ve heard of (or had) bosses who refuse to give a top ranking (because nobody’s perfect, and they don’t want you resting on your laurels), then you may already feel a bit jaded about the process. How can you be motivated by a system in which you can never achieve the goal?

In truth, managers aren’t thrilled by these systems either. It’s stressful to rank employees, especially when the forms seem to ignore the most important aspects of someone’s job. Now with so many people working remotely or covering more roles, managers may be even more challenged in this process.

If managers and employees both dislike performance reviews, why does the practice persist? That question does get asked from time to time. On balance, despite the drawbacks, it’s better for employees to work in a system that uses some kind of review, rather than one that doesn’t. If nothing else, it’s an annual opportunity to clear the air about duties and expectations.

Since the actual protocols differ from one company to the next, there isn’t a universal set of steps for succeeding at your next performance review. Even so, the following tips might give you a head start.

Ask for the form in advance. Assuming your company uses a form or some other prepared document, ask for it a month or more before your review would be scheduled. This lets you think about the areas you’ll be evaluated on, while getting started on any information you’re expected to prepare.

Review past evaluations. If you’ve been with this employer awhile, you’ve probably been through this process already. Past reviews will remind you of goals you’d intended to reach this year, along with other areas of improvement. They’ll also prepare you mentally for the process itself.

Talk to co-workers. If others have already been through their reviews, consider asking how it went. You don’t need to get personal. Just, “Did you think the process was different this year?” might be enough to elicit advice.

Gather your data. Did you take on extra duties this year, or cover different areas of your department? What did you learn that you might be taking for granted now, such as remote meeting processes? Did you hit or miss your work goals? Answering these kinds of questions might be a requirement of your review preparation process but if not, it’s still good data to have ready.

Mind your language. In the meeting itself, there are some things you want to avoid saying. For example, leave out unneeded modifiers such as “kind of” – as in, “I kind of led the transition process this year.” If you weren’t given official leadership status, the modifier is understandable but it’s still not strategic. Try this instead: “When the transition process gained momentum, I stepped forward to lead the stages taking place in my work area. That included.. and … and …”

Along the same lines, this isn’t the place to use “we” when “I” is justified. In the above example, saying “Our team took responsibility for…” might accurately be replaced with “I led our team in taking responsibility for…”

Ask for what you want. In many ways, this is the Year of the Employee. You don’t have free reign to get anything your heart desires, but you almost certainly have more leverage than you realize. Managers are losing sleep over worker retention issues when they’re already short-handed. Reasonable requests for schedule accommodations, tuition assistance or pay increases have more chance of success now than might usually be the case.

Ask what your manager wants. Not to be forgotten in this process is the manager, who likely oversees your career path in the company. What is the vision for the coming year and your role in the department? What goals does he or she have that you can help fulfill? Finding alignment between your goals and your manager’s goals is the sweet spot of the annual performance review; achieving this can make the process a valued tool rather than a dreaded ordeal.

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Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse

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Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two years ago, Apple threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from its app store over concerns about the platform being used as a tool to trade and sell maids in the Mideast.

After publicly promising to crack down, Facebook acknowledged in internal documents obtained by The Associated Press that it was “under-enforcing on confirmed abusive activity” that saw Filipina maids complaining on the social media site of being abused. Apple relented and Facebook and Instagram remained in the app store.

But Facebook’s crackdown seems to have had a limited effect. Even today, a quick search for “khadima,” or “maids” in Arabic, will bring up accounts featuring posed photographs of Africans and South Asians with ages and prices listed next to their images. That’s even as the Philippines government has a team of workers that do nothing but scour Facebook posts each day to try and protect desperate job seekers from criminal gangs and unscrupulous recruiters using the site.

While the Mideast remains a crucial source of work for women in Asia and Africa hoping to provide for their families back home, Facebook acknowledged some countries across the region have “especially egregious” human rights issues when it comes to laborers’ protection.

“In our investigation, domestic workers frequently complained to their recruitment agencies of being locked in their homes, starved, forced to extend their contracts indefinitely, unpaid, and repeatedly sold to other employers without their consent,” one Facebook document read. “In response, agencies commonly told them to be more agreeable.”

The report added: “We also found recruitment agencies dismissing more serious crimes, such as physical or sexual assault, rather than helping domestic workers.”

In a statement to the AP, Facebook said it took the problem seriously, despite the continued spread of ads exploiting foreign workers in the Mideast.

“We prohibit human exploitation in no uncertain terms,” Facebook said. “We’ve been combating human trafficking on our platform for many years and our goal remains to prevent anyone who seeks to exploit others from having a home on our platform.”

This story, along with others published Monday, is based on disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions were obtained by a consortium of news organizations, including the AP.

Taken as a whole, the trove of documents show that Facebook’s daunting size and user base around the world — a key factor in its rapid ascent and near trillion-dollar valuation — also proves to be its greatest weakness in trying to police illicit activity, such as the sale of drugs, and suspected human rights and labor abuses on its site.

Activists say Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, has both an obligation and likely the means to fully crack down on the abuses their services facilitate as it earns tens of billions of dollars a year in revenue.

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HelloFresh, EveryPlate and more now part of extended onion recall

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You may need to toss your onions as salmonella outbreak has been linked to the vegetable

If you haven’t already thrown out your onions, you should check your vegetables again.

The Food and Drug Administration has extended the onion recall, caused by a salmonella outbreak, to several more brands. The salmonella outbreak was first reported last week and initially only included fresh whole red, white or yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource.

The recall now includes onions from HelloFresh, EveryPlate, Potandon Produce LLC and Keeler Family Farms.

HelloFresh said in a statement on Saturday they recommended disposing of onions received during the specified time period

“HelloFresh has been informed by one of its ingredient suppliers that it is conducting a voluntary recall of its onions due to the potential presence of salmonella bacteria,” the company said. “Please discard all onions received from July 7, 2021, through Sept. 8, 2021.”

The CDC is still working to determine if other onions and suppliers are linked to the outbreak.

Officials said recently both individuals and businesses should check onions and if it is unknown where they are from, throw them away. It is also recommended to wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with these onions.

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

The Facebook Papers project represents a unique collaboration among 17 American news organizations, including The Associated Press. Journalists from a variety of newsrooms, large and small, worked together to gain access to thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower.

A separate consortium of European news outlets had access to the same set of documents, and members of both groups began publishing content related to their analysis of the materials at 7 a.m. EDT on Monday, Oct. 25. That date and time was set by the partner news organizations to give everyone in the consortium an opportunity to fully analyze the documents, report out relevant details, and to give Facebook’s public relations staff ample time to respond to questions and inquiries raised by that reporting.

Each member of the consortium pursued its own independent reporting on the document contents and their significance. Every member also had the opportunity to attend group briefings to gain information and context about the documents.

The launch of The Facebook Papers project follows similar reporting by The Wall Street Journal, sourced from the same documents, as well as Haugen’s appearance on the CBS television show “60 Minutes” and her Oct. 5 Capitol Hill testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

The papers themselves are redacted versions of disclosures that Haugen has made over several months to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging Facebook was prioritizing profits over safety and hiding its own research from investors and the public.

These complaints cover a range of topics, from its efforts to continue growing its audience, to how its platforms might harm children, to its alleged role in inciting political violence. The same redacted versions of those filings are being provided to members of Congress as part of its investigation. And that process continues as Haugen’s legal team goes through the process of redacting the SEC filings by removing the names of Facebook users and lower-level employees and turns them over to Congress.

The Facebook Papers consortium will continue to report on these documents as more become available in the coming days and weeks.

“AP regularly teams up with other news organizations to bring important journalism to the world,” said Julie Pace, senior vice president and executive editor. “The Facebook Papers project is in keeping with that mission. In all collaborations, AP maintains its editorial independence.”

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