I've recently started a new job. I've just had my first formal end-of-cycle review from my manager after about 4 or 5 months, where we are given a performance score. They were thankfully very transparent, but there was something that has been bothering me about it.
The specific feedback in my review before we got to a final score was uniformly positive. Several examples and testimonies from peers about how I go above and beyond. How I'm reliable. That I'm a uniquely talented member of the team that gives important mentorship to others. That people specifically seek me out to work with over others. I made sure to ask "what can I be doing better?" and there was no answer.
There were other things not specifically called out but that we were both fully aware of and discussed verbally. That I covered for several team members when they were out-of-office during critical moments. That I put in nights and weekends to hit a tight deadline. I've filled in nearly every gap the team has had, and people have thanked me for it profusely across ours and other teams.
Pretty nice right? I've worked really hard to cultivate this reputation is such a brief time period, often to the point of burning out in certain ways in my personal life. So I was very surprised when the final score read "Meets expectations," rather than "exceeds expectations" or something even higher.
I put a lot of stock into my performance reviews; I have never gotten below "exceeds expectations" and I know it's been a big part of how I've gotten to this level of my career. So I immediately said to my manager: "The math isn't quite adding up here. Is there anything I should be doing that I'm not? It sounds like everyone is pleased with how I've gone above and beyond, so I'm a little confused."
They said back to me, "that's all true. You just haven't been here long enough to justify a higher rank here."
I'm starting to wonder if there's something I'm not being told; but regardless, it is really bothering me. Why was I given a review at all if it's impossible to rise above the complete baseline? Is my manager being dishonest somehow? I was never expecting a raise; I agree that's too soon. But to give me a rank that is penalized for something beyond my control feels like a breach of trust.
Anyway, I'm feeling pretty demotivated to continue my extremely hard work to be the best I possibly can; if I'm going to get the same score no matter what I do (as long as I don't totally check out) then why should I work this hard?
I'm working up the nerve to go back to my manager with a more palatable digest of these thoughts, but I wanted to ask you all if I'm really making a mountain out of a molehill or what. Am I putting too much stock into a simple score like this? Aside from that, I felt pretty good about all the praise I was given.