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House Mouse column #2 Illustratie Auke Herrema

It’s that time of year again – what’s your strategy for the R&O? Find out what our house mouse has to say.

“Hi Sophia, did I tell you about yesterday? I was nibbling on some delicious cookies in the professor’s office when suddenly two people walked through the door. I had no time to escape so I quickly hid behind the bin – I was stuck there for more than an hour! They had such a long conversation. I heard the words ‘R’ and ‘O’ a lot. Must be something really important.”
“Yeah, I know, it’s that time of year again. Don’t you know about it?” she asks, surprised. “It is Resultaat en Ontwikkeling, a yearly evaluation that pretty much every employee has to do.”  
“Oh, so what do they actually evaluate at TU Delft?” I ask.
“Well... it really depends on what you and your boss think of when you fill out the form. There’s a website that everyone fills in themselves and writes about what they did this year and how they think they performed. It had a lot of problems last year, but supposedly they are all fixed this time around,” she rolls her eyes and we both laugh.
“Yeah, I heard about that website, but I didn’t know you get to grade yourself” I say incredulously. “That sounds crazy!”
“I know, but that’s not all, they also have to write down what they think of their boss. That’s actually the first question on the website. The assistant and associate profs and lecturers think they are being evaluated, but I heard the full professor thinks it’s him that is being evaluated.”
“Ah, now I get it – first everybody writes down that their boss is amazing, then it doesn’t matter what their boss writes about them afterwards.”
“Not a bad idea,” Sophia laughs. “It definitely seems like everyone has a different perspective, though. Some people think it’s a complete waste of time, others are suspicious the University is just creating a paper trail to fire them one day!”

Jan has been listening to our conversation from his office and can no longer resist chiming in.

“Are you talking about the R&O? What a stupid system! In the old days, it was much easier. Either the prof liked you and you could get on with your work, minding your own business, or he didn’t like you and that was the end of your career. No need for a website and yearly evaluation to do that.”
“But Jan, at least now it is much more objective,” Sophia responds, “employees are evaluated based on their achievements rather than whether the boss likes them or not.”
Jaja, you really think so?” he wryly responds. “Keep on dreaming. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because in three years they’ll announce a completely new evaluation system anyway, supposedly much better – and that one will be a waste of time too!
Come on jongens, let’s have a coffee and see if there are any crumbs left around the PhD room, they’re always leaving a mess around. I hope the machine works today …”

This column is written by Kristina Reinders and Robert Lanzafame, lecturers at the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

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