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My company usually asks me to make an evaluation twice a year. We also discuss and write down the objectives for the next period. I always complied.

This time, they asked that I actually sign both my evaluation, and my objectives for the next period, meaning with my handwritten signature. They asked this to everyone. A lot complied, but some of us, me included, are very concerned.

I'm very, very conservative about where I put my signature down, because I consider it strongly engages me, it's kind of a commitment.

I'm ready to verbally accept the objectives just like I always did: it's a commitment, not a commitment that could be used against me. I don't want to be forced to sign them. Especially since the objectives only involve me. There is no bilateral commitment like "if you do this, you'll get that". That annoys me the most.

Sometimes I sign documents when I'm representing the company. In those case, I always mention something like "for [my company]" or "representing [my company]" right above my signature.

But now I feel like I'm forced to sign something in my own name for the benefits of the company (since there is no counterpart). They already have my signature on the contract that we both agreed on when I was hired. I feel they don't need my signature, but they just want it to feel more secure in case something bad happens (which never happened so far).

If that matters, I'm in Belgium, a software developer dispatched at the client.

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    Seems to me that you're saying you don't want to be held accountable for your actions. That's a big red flag to me. – Philip Kendall Oct 7 '16 at 9:35
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    @PhilipKendall I am accountable: I've signed a contract with my company. Also, I've accepted verbally for 5 years, so you definitely didn't understand my question properly (or my question was badly asked). – Someone Oct 7 '16 at 9:38
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    @PhilipKendall In an extreme case, he could be sued for underestimating the next half year of work a tiny bit. Not fun. – deviantfan Oct 7 '16 at 9:39
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    @deviantfan An unreasonable company or person can sue you for almost anything no matter if it's in writing or not. Whether a court laughs at them and throws the case out is a different matter. – Philip Kendall Oct 7 '16 at 9:40
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    Since that piece of paper is a piece of paper and not electronic communication, they might want to have a way to demonstrate that you read and understood it. Similarly, if someone produces unreasonable demands claiming you agreed to them six months down the line, you have a piece of paper which proves exactly what was agreed to. The only difference between verbal and written commitment is that written stuff is auditable. I'd ask for a copy if you're so concerned. – rath Oct 7 '16 at 9:57
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The signature doesn't mean that you agree to meet the objectives. It represents that you have acknowledged that you know what your objectives are.

Refusing to sign is immaterial - your manager or HR can attach a note saying that they've been through the objectives with you, then sign and date the fact that they've discussed your objectives.

Why doesn't signing the objectives imply that you are bound to them? Well, a resigning employee doesn't have to meet objectives anymore. They just have to fulfill the relevant aspects of their contract, e.g. working the notice period. If signing objectives bound staff to them, then staff could be bound to an employer beyond that stated in their contract.

Usual caveats: this isn't legal advice.

  • I didn't think of it like an acknowledgement. Is it reasonable for me to add "for acknowledgement" as comment to my signature? – Someone Oct 7 '16 at 10:03
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    Absolutely you can add the 'for acknowledgement' remark to the objectives. The first time I ever signed an objectives document I asked my manager whether the signature was simply acknowledging receipt. He said yes, it was just a bureaucratic measure. – WorkerWithoutACause Oct 7 '16 at 10:07
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    This makes perfect sense to me – Kilisi Oct 7 '16 at 11:55
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Yes, you should sign your evaluations and objectives.

Signing your evaluations is mostly an administrative thing: it doesn't really matter if you agree with them or not, it lets HR know that you've been through the process.

Signing your objectives is important to show that you have agreed that these are a reasonable set of objectives for you for the next six months - this is both so that the business can hold you accountable if you didn't meet those objectives without getting into an argument about whether you agreed to them or not, and so that you can say to your boss "No, I never agreed to that" if they try and say "you should have done this" when there was no such thing mentioned on your objectives.

  • Yes, I don't see anything that holds you accountable to achieve them, perhaps an implication to more naive employees, but nothing in a pragmatic sense. Refusal to sign them implies you're not confident of your assessment and/or a troublemaker. – Kilisi Oct 7 '16 at 11:57
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    Yes, this is to provide agreed upon goals for your performance reviews the following year. However, if during the course of the year you find that you are working towards different goals, you must sit down with your boss to update and sign the form with the new goals!! If you don't, review time could come around and your boss would say "Well, this is what we agreed you would try to do, and you didn't do it." – David K Oct 7 '16 at 12:15

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