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Morgan Stanley Will Be Unpacking Its Adjectives Soon

Does your employer still rate your overall performance on a scale of 1 to 5? If you've ever wished your employer would find a better way to assess your performance, then I have one word for you: adjectives!

Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley, which already has enough numbers to deal with every day, will be ditching the traditional 1-through-5 performance rating scale in favor of descriptive adjectives.

MBAs have discovered Strunk & White in a STEM world, and now Morgan Stanley managers writing performance reviews will be listing up to five adjectives to describe employees. But which five adjectives will Morgan Stanley managers choose from among the hundreds of worthy dangling modifiers among us?

This is where things get very interesting, given the voluminous English vocabulary. Obviously, managers ditching numbers for words will need to revisit their School House Rock archives! Pro tip: frustrating, worst, smart, bitter, productive, successful, emotional, expensive, pregnant, dramatic, squishy, prickly, friendly, hellish and idiotic are all adjectives!


Adjectives do more than modify a noun, however; they allow us to compare things, as well. With adjectives, we are able to compare one co-worker thing to another. Isn't that cool? Suddenly, everything can be smarter, faster, bigger or stronger, thanks to adjectives! Or everything can be dumber, slower, smaller or weaker, depending on your perspective.

Adjectives can also be superlative. Smallest, smartest, quickest, slowest. These words are all superlatives, if managers feel like crowning a workplace winner. Just listen to Donald Trump, he uses superlatives all the time.

Isn't this fun? This humanities major sure thinks so. If trigonometry class had been a series of one-page essays, then I'd be a rocket scientist-turned-unpaid-blogger by now.

The problem is, adjectives and adverbs can be confusing if we do not use them correctly. Make sure you know the difference so employees don't look at their performance review and say: "Isn't 'fast' an adverb?" (Yes, it is.)

So many adjectives, so little time to write performance reviews. What is a manager without a 1-though-5 number scale to do? Why not start with a list of 500 potential adjectives?

In a pinch, just keep your adjectives pretty simple. As somebody who generally prefers words to numbers, I wish Morgan Stanley good luck. It's an interesting idea. The needy Millennials at work are going to love it, too.

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