'05 Annual Performance Review: Albert Einstein

Employee's Name: Albert Einstein Supervisor's name: Dr. Friedrich Haller
Title: Patent Clerk Third Class Location: Bern Patent Office
Year: '05
Overall Rating: Poor Excellent

Instructions: Please complete each part of each question and discuss with the employee during the performance review meeting.


  1. Describe the employee's duties and responsibilities and indicate the relative priorities of key elements.

    This is a patent office, Albert. Your job is to transform written patent applications into clear and precise language, and to study applications and pick out the new ideas of an invention. These are the priorities. Where does it say that your priorities are rewriting the rules of the Universe, unifying space and time, unifying radiation and matter, or demonstrating the existence of atoms?

  2. Describe any changes that have occurred in the employee's job since his or her last performance discussion.



Poor ... Excellent
1.Works well with others
2. Is willing worker in assigned responsibilities
3.Demonstrates skill and proficiency in carrying out assignments
4.Strives to improve work methods as a means toward greater efficiency
5.Is willing to take on additional responsibilities
6.Makes sound and timely decisions - analyzes facts and reaches logical conclusions
7.Is a reliable employee (attendance, punctuality, consistent work)
8.Shares credit appropriately


  1. List aspects of the employee's approach that contribute to his or her effectiveness.

    Albert does a good job of processing patent applications. He seems to enjoy his work and have a competence for it. I put him down for "excellent" at "analyzes facts and reaches logical conclusions" -- no problem there, we can all agree.

    However this year he seems to have devoted much of his time to publishing a series of outside papers. While this is not the primary responsibility of his position, I have to say he has done reasonably well in this respect:

    1. In March, On a heuristic viewpoint concerning the production and transformation of light, contradicted the well-established wave theory of light, replacing it with a quantum light theory, based on evidence from the photoelectric effect and other prior experiments. You called this paper "revolutionary," and many physicists agreed, although some resisted your conclusions.
    2. In April, your PhD dissertation A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions measured the size of atoms (and also Avogadro's number), making the theory of atoms more concrete, particularly the kinetic theory of heat, based on an analysis of data about solutions of sugar in water. While atoms had been proposed 2500 years ago and were widely believed in, you helped provide evidence for them.
    3. In May, On the motion of small particles suspended in liquids at rest required by the molecular-kinetic theory of heat further demonstrates the existence of atoms, explains Brownian motion, and shows that the second law of thermodynamics is just a statistical summary, not an absolute law.
    4. In June, On the electrodynamics of moving bodies introduces what you call the special theory of relativity that shows that there is no distinguished state of rest in the Universe, and no one distinguished notion of time; rather that time and motion are relative to the observer.
    5. In September, Does the inertia of a body depend on its energy content? follows up on the June paper and shows that radiation converts mass to energy according to the formula E = mc2.

  2. List aspects of employee's approach which require improvement for greater effectiveness.

    Regrettably, I had to put you down as "poor" for "works well with others" and "shares credit appropriately." You had no co-authors on your five papers, and your citations were quite skimpy: no citations at all in your June and September paper, only one citation in your April paper, and not much better on the others. You wrote that your special theory of relativity came to you after a discussion with your friend Michele Besso. But you didn't even acknowledge him in your June paper. This is an area for improvement.

    On the other hand, famous physicists are beginning to visit the offices here in Bern; Albert you must make sure that any hours spent in talking to them are subtracted from your time card and made up for later. You are responsible for making sure these visits do not cause a distraction for others in the office.

    In addition, I would have to say your output, while at times quite extraordinary, has been inconsistent. In Q1 you managed to publish one paper in the final two weeks of the quarter. In Q2 you improved productivity, with your dissertation in April, the Brownian Motion paper in May, and the Special Relativity paper in June. Not bad for a quarter, not bad at all. But then you seemed to slump: you did finish one paper 3 days before the close of Q3, but it was only 3 pages long. I admit that some reviewers did find it noteworthy, but really, couldn't it have been the conclusion of your June paper? It almost seems like you held it back just to have something to show for Q3. (This flippant, almost disrespectful attitude is also evident in your dissertation: when told by your respected thesis committee that your thesis was too short, you added one sentence.) And then in Q4 -- no publications at all.

    You wrote that "A storm broke out in my mind" this year. Let me remind you that our Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) covers up to three psychiatric treatments, should you find them necessary.

    You seem to lack a flare for self-promotion. Lucky for us our PR department stepped in and changed your L/c2 equation into the much more marketable E = mc2.

  3. Is the employee ready for increased responsibility? If yes, please explain.

    Based on his performance as a patent clerk, I cannot recommend Albert for a promotion at this time.

  4. Does the employee require additional training? If yes, please explain.

    First, congratulations for completing your doctoral dissertation in April. (Make sure you fill out form EDUR-4 to be reimbursed for a portion of your tuition.) I was impressed that Prof. Alfred Kleiner wrote that "Herr Einstein has provided evidence that he is capable of occupying himself successfully with scientific problems." So clearly, you need no more formal education.

    However, based on your file photo below, I would suggest you sign up for the "Dress for Success" class. Really: a striped shirt with a plaid suit?

Further Reading

Peter Norvig