Summary: It's annual appraisal time at NCIS. We'll see how everyone is marked, and how they deal with it.
Genre: General fic
Characters: The cast and their first-line supervisors
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Disclaimer: I own nothing of NCIS. Would that it were otherwise.
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Chapter One: Ziva
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Date: October 10, 2007
From: Jennifer Shepard, Director, NCIS
To: All First-Line Supervisors
It's that time of year again. We are in a new fiscal year, and by now you should have finished writing your FY 2007 employee performance reviews. Be sure that you have scheduled time to meet with your staff to go over their performance plans, including discussing the changes noted for FY 2008. You must read aloud to your staff the sections marked read aloud in the management copy, even if you and your staff have gone over them for the last 10 years. There are no shortcuts allowed. All reviews, signed by you and your staff, must be turned in to my office by COB October 31, as required under DOD-OPM standard 134.80.C.
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Thursday morning: The date that sat at the top of his monitor was like a scold. October 25 already. Guess I'd better get to it. With no field assignments to distract the team this morning, Gibbs found the pesky call to do the performance reviews ringing loudly in his mind.
Part of this was due to Jenny, who sent out nag-mails on the subject every other day. Have you done them yet? she would ask. Remember, the deadline is October 31. What would happen if they weren't done by then? Would they all be fired? Turn into dust? Be stoned by trick-or-treaters? Achieve happier lives?
How to decide the order this year? Alphabetical? "Ziva," he called, as her last name was first, alphabetically. "With me. Performance review time."
She jumped to it, over Tony's grimace and Tim's frown. Ziva always came out well on these reviews, and she knew it.
They headed for a third-floor conference room. Gibbs' favorite room for this purpose was number 310. It was small, windowless, and mostly featureless, discouraging his people from looking around and prolonging the agony for both of them. This time, however, a sign on the door declared it to be unavailable due to a water leak. Gibbs growled at the door, as if it had had something to do with the damage.
"Rooms 307 and 313 are available," Jenny's secretary, Cynthia, said as she passed by. "Everything else is booked until the first of November, because of the on-going remodeling."
"How nice!" said Ziva. "Both rooms have windows. I've never understood why you want to close us in in that stuffy 310, Gibbs."
He didn't answer that. Maybe because if I get too riled during these reviews, I might be tempted to throw myself out the window. TPTB wouldn't like it if I threw an employee out the window, either. "Let's take 307 and get on with this."
She smiled. "I'm in no hurry. I like these reviews."
"Which planet are you from, again?" he asked, opening the door to 307. "No one is supposed to like these things. Only some crackpots in HR who design these things like them. And they probably don't like them; they just were hired to be all-purpose sadists."
"We had some of those in the Mossad, too. But I really do like to have my progress measured. It tests my skills."
Gibbs drew the blinds lightly against the curious, friendly sunbeams and then they sat at the small conference table. From the manila folder he'd been carrying he pulled out papers. "Well, I can't agree that this is the best way to do so, Ziva. They require us to use these narrow, predefined standards, and not deviate from them." He sighed. "As you know, but I am required to tell you, this measures your performance from Ten-one-oh-six to Nine-thirty-one-oh-seven."
"There are, ah, only thirty days in September, Gibbs." She saw his look and quieted. I don't understand why he doesn't like these reviews as much as I do…
"There are three ratings for each performance element," he went on. "A 'one' means 'needs improvement'. A 'three' means 'fully successful'. 'Five' is 'outstanding'. A 'three' rating should carry no shame whatsoever—"
She sprang up; eyes blazing. "You gave me threes??!!"
He motioned to her, sternly, to sit down. "—no shame whatsoever. It is a measure that the employee is doing everything asked of him or her in the job, and, often, then some. To achieve a 'five' rating, the employee must not only meet all of the requirements of the 'three' level, but surpass these to an outstanding extent in at least 70 per cent of the requirements.
"The first of the four job elements is 'Maintaining the Integrity of NCIS'. The requirements, which I don't have to completely read off to you because we went over it last October and at your mid-year review in April, and that should be enough for both of us, include gathering information, completing work as assigned, prioritizing, analyzing, using databases available to us, being up-to-date in technology, working independently when appropriate…"
His voice trailed off when he noticed she was drumming her fingers on the table. He stifled a sigh, and summed it up. "And you did all that and more, giving you a 'five' in that job element."
She leaned back in her chair with a satisfied smile. "Go on."
"Second element: 'Job Knowledge'. This includes familiarity with laws and agency procedures. Demonstrating skill in working in the field, gathering evidence, pursuing leads, apprehending suspects. Maintaining proficiency in the use of firearms and hand-to-hand combat. Staying physically fit. Maintaining composure under stressful and/or dangerous conditions. Completing refresher courses in CPR and first aid. Demonstrating knowledge of keeping oneself safe…You've done all to a high degree. that. I can't find anything to fault, Ziva. You got a 'five'."
Grinning, she pumped the air with her fist, silently. Even Gibbs allowed himself a smile.
"Third element: 'Interpersonal Skills'. This requires that one treats suspects fairly, without resorting to violence unless oneself or others are in danger. Treating witnesses, whether willing or hostile, with courtesy and respect. Communicating clearly. Providing relevant information in a timely fashion. Receiving feedback graciously. Being open to new ways of thinking. Accepting changes willingly."
Gibbs met Ziva's eyes, and the sunny smile she'd been wearing found a cloud passing over it. "What?" she said.
"A 'three', Ziva—"
"It's the same mark you got in this element last year. As I told you then, you need to…I don't know. Tone yourself down sometimes. Don't be so brusque, or so…threatening. Don't look like you're about to kill the suspect. Don't threaten the suspect with death or torture…"
"But most of them deserve a little anxiety. They're scum."
"Their guilt is for the courts to decide, not us."
"Oh, come on, Gibbs. You're saying you want me to change my personality? Is it that you want me to act more sweet and feminine?"
He slammed his fist on the table. "Don't exaggerate. You know exactly what I mean. If you could just remember to pull yourself back a little, you'd have that 'five'."
Ziva crossed her arms, not at all mollified. Only thirteen points so far!
"And this is the final element," Gibbs went on. " 'Teamwork'." She mouthed it with him, and her dark eyes had gone a little duller in the coming of this last one.
"Teamwork includes, uh, working with—emphasis on with—the team. Demonstrating that the integrity of the team is more important than the needs one's needs. Always having a team member's back. Demonstrating being aware of one's teammates' positions in the field, and being ready to come to a teammate's aid in an instant. Working out differences of opinion. Treating teammates with respect. Seeking new ways to improve team morale and exhibiting camaraderie."
She looked glumly at the table. This had always been her hardest element; in her first year Gibbs had given her a 'three', but had warned her she was barely out of the 'one' zone. "So…"
"You've come a long way, Ziva. Your attitude has warmed toward us. I have no doubt that you deserve the 'five' I've given you this time."
"…'Five'?..'Five'! I got a 'five'!! I got a 'five'!!" She was jumping up and down, though making no attempt to hug Gibbs; that would be too much. "That's eighteen points! Is it—?"
"Yes, that's an average of 4.5; enough to give you an 'outstanding' rating. Congratulations." He did smile then, as she danced.
"See, I told you I liked performance reviews," she laughed. "How can anyone not like this process?!"
He only smiled a little as he motioned to her to sign the appraisal. That's easy to say if you're on the receiving end, and your marks are good. Not everyone likes this moronic process. "Thanks for a job well done," he said then. "Here is a list of the changes for FY 2008. Do you want to go over them now?"
"No, I'll take them with me and read them. Something to work toward!" There was that gleeful, combat-ready glow in her eye. She attacked mundane HR-defined job elements as she would any other enemy.
"I can't wait for the mid-year review!" she said jubilantly, heading out the door.
He smiled again at her, and then stood in reflection when she was gone. One down, two to go. And this was the easiest one…
The ringing cell phone yanked him from his musing. They had a case. There'd be no more performance reviews for his team today. He didn't know which he dreaded doing more: DiNozzo's or McGee's.
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Next: Ducky reviews Jimmy Palmer