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the Girl Banker’s Guide to Annual Reviews

I believe there are two types of employees:
Type A: Takes their annual review as an opportunity to reflect on their job performance that year, discuss a solid career path, get good feedback from their immediate supervisor, and make a game plan for their future with company.
Type B: Waits until the last minute to complete their annual review paperwork, sits impatiently through the review waiting to hear the words, “this year, your raise is…”.

I also believe there are two types of managers where annual reviews are concerned:
Type A: Takes their time writing up the review, knowing that as a valued team member, this time is important and a great opportunity to address issues, give praise, etc.
Type B: Fills out said review in less than 3 minutes, giving no additional thought or effort into the whole process, dismissing it as an HR or regulatory requirement.

When it comes to the type of employee, I’m a definite Type A. (I look forward to reviews! Heck, I even get excited about them!) As for managers, I have experienced both… almost extreme opposites.

A number of years ago I found myself very complacent with my career in banking. My annual review was drawing near and I was determined to get answers about my future with the company and I was well prepared to ask hard questions and confess my concerns. I spent an extra long time typing up my portion of the annual review in an effort to give my then boss an opportunity to be as prepared as I was. We scheduled my review early one morning. Now, anyone that knows me, knows that I will be late to my own funeral. This particular day, I arrived early, confident that the review was going to be a turning point in my career. My boss showed up late, was obviously frazzled by something that had happened to him that morning (or perhaps he forgot completely about my review), and had failed to read my well prepared portion of the review.

My heart sunk.

I knew the second he walked in the door that I wouldn’t be leaving the meeting feeling satisfied with my career’s direction. Through the remainder of a very awkward, forced review, I attempted to stay focused, expressed my concerns, and asked for feedback. Without giving details, let’s just say that the conversation was very one sided and not so much focused on me as an employee, but on my boss’s career and his daughter’s. I know. Strange.

I easily could have chalked it up to my former boss having a bad morning, but when it came down to it, I was at a cross roads with my career and he wasn’t prepared. Needless to say, I didn’t stay there much longer but certainly learned a valuable lesson as both a direct report and as a manager: take annual reviews seriously!

Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your annual review:
PREP | Reviews aren’t usually a surprise, they tend to come around once a year at the same time! If you have goals and aspirations for your career at your company (and I assume you do if you are still reading this post), then be prepared to share them with your supervisor. If your employer provides a questionnaire to complete in advance, take your time with the questions and be ready to discuss. This time is literally set aside to talk about YOU! Make the most of it and be prepared.

KEEP A RUNNING “DONE” LIST | Everyone has a “to-do” list, do you have a “done” list? If you don’t already, get an account with Evernote and download their app and add it to your favorites on your desktop. In 2019, every time you complete a “to-do”, add it to your “done” list on Evernote and marvel over how productive you are at the end of the year. This list will come in handy for your annual review as well!

LISTEN | Reviews should be two sided. Listen intently to the feedback your supervisor is giving you. If it doesn’t align with your expectations for the review, ask questions and get clarification to avoid future issues. Bring your planner or a notepad to take notes so that you can review later.

TAKE CRITICISM AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW | If your review doesn’t have any shape or form of constructive criticism, then your manager isn’t doing you or the company any favors. A glowing review only blows rainbows and sunshine up your hiney and doesn’t give you any opportunities to grow as an employee. This happens often from managers who are afraid of hurting feelings or want to avoid confrontation. Take the constructive criticism professionally and ask questions about how you can improve. In other words, don’t be that employee that gets easily offended or upset if you don’t exceed expectations on each evaluation question. If you’re not always learning and striving to improve, don’t be surprised when you don’t move up.

EXPECT YOUR MANAGER’S FULL ATTENTION | Evaluations should be completed one on one with minimal interruption. They aren’t something to laugh off or take lightly. Take them seriously and expect your manager to take them seriously. This is the one time a year (or quarter, depending on your position and company) where you are formally discussing your job performance. If you aren’t happy with how your manager facilitated the review and don’t feel that he or she took it seriously, discuss with your HR Director.

Happy reviewing!

Natalie, the Girl Banker

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