Annual Review

October 26, 2011 · 14 comments

September 30th marked the end of the fiscal year for the federal government. That means every October each federal employee goes through an annual review with their supervisor. Today is mine.

How awkward would it be if I got fired? That would sure suck.

This will be my fourth annual review with the Fed, but it will be my first since my transfer to Seattle. This one will be different from the others, because unlike my time in San Diego, I have only met my boss one time for about an hour and I’ve never been to our local field office. Kind of weird to sit down and have someone whom I don’t interact with much tell me I’m either really awesome or a total waste of tax payer money.

I had never had to undergo an annual review for any of the part-time jobs I held in college. Needless to say, I was super nervous for my first annual review. I quickly realized that the “real world” was nothing like college. In school, I was constantly getting feedback from my professors, counselors, and peers in regards to my performance. In the working world, however, you are just expected to do well. The mantra “No news is good news” really is true. I’m never excited to see my bosses name pop up on caller ID, if it does, it almost always means I did something wrong.

Now that I’ve become familiar with the way my agency works — and how I am evaluated– I’m feeling much better walking in to today’s review. Definitely better than I felt walking in to my first one. I’m sure I’ll be told a few things I need to work on, and hopefully a few things I totally kick butt at. Annual reviews are nowhere near as scary as they use to be.

…Enter lame personal finance tie in…

This is just like the first time I “reviewed” my financial situation. It was scary. I had a crap load of debt, and only a few shekels in my bank account. My first financial annual review wasn’t pretty. But now, after learning more about the way money works, I’m doing alright. Just like I no longer expect to be praised every time I do something well in my professional life, I don’t expect to be affirmed each time I make a smart financial move (although it would be kind of cool if I got congratulatory remarks each month my net worth went up…haha). There may not be a lot of glory in managing your personal finances, but there is definitely a satisfaction in knowing you’re taking necessary steps to secure a brighter future. Can I get an amen?

Do you have to go through an annual review with your employer? What does that typically look like? Do you find the review helpful, or is just a waste of time?

1 Donna Freedman

When I worked at a newspaper we had annual reviews, which were a fair amount of work. You were given a set of questions to answer in writing; your boss answered the same questions. Then you exchanged answers. Then you sat down to meet and agree/disagree. Finally, the paperwork went to the managing editor who signed off.
Mine ran to several pages, because I wanted to make sure that my editor remembered everything I’d done. As it turned out, she always did — her version of the review ran to several pages, too.
Helpful hint: If they give you a question called “What areas do you want to develop?” do NOT answer “pecs, abs” unless your boss has a sense of humor.

2 Gus

We have an annual review at my workplace. We also have a formal half yearly and moving towards informal quarterly reviews. The process starts by setting goals at the start of the year, and then reviewing progress against them. It’s not an overly complex process, and it does make you focus on the goals more.

My first year was terrible, I didn’t know what to expect and hadn’t prepared anything. Luckily I got another meeting and another chance. However, over the last few years, the focus is more about development than results – with a decent manager/management team and culture there are really no surprises on the results as the year goes on.

Do you have set objectives (over and above your basic job description) – if so, maybe a monthly informal catchup. Makes it easy when it comes to end of the year because your boss has had constant reminding of what you have done.

And the last question… it’s a useful chance to step back and think about development and career, if done right.

3 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

My job rated me a few weeks ago, but I won’t know the results until January. In the beginning days of my career, I always wanted that “exceptional performer” title. Now I’m content with “doesn’t suck”.

4 Austin

It’s typically pretty useless. It’s a given 30 minutes to an hour where you get to ask any questions, give updates on the project(s) you’re on and talk about what the next year has in store. My co-worker who was reviewed recently said that his was really quick and he nearly got to name his raise. I guess it’s been a good year for the company!

5 spiffi

Our company works on the principle that you can assume you’re doing a good job, unless you hear otherwise :D

We’re small, and rather than have formal, scheduled conversations, it’s expected that if you have a problem or want to make a change in how your career is heading, that you talk to your manager – personally I have a really good relationship with my boss, so we have conversations a couple times a year about these things.

Is it perfect? No – things can take a while to change. But that’s a resource issue, not a willingness issue :)

6 Larry

In honesty, I think it’s by and large a useless exercise. Unless you’re really dumb, blind, or self-deceived, you should have a pretty good sense day-by-day if you’re performing satisfactorily. Otherwise it’s just a little ceremony in which you hope to get a promotion and/or raise.

7 krantcents

In education, reviews mean multiple visits to my classroom by an administrator. They give you feedback about your work. This occurs every other year since I reached tenure.

8 Drew @EpicFinances.com

I’ve never personally had any trouble with my annual reviews at work, but I was very nervous going into my first ever review.

It’s always good to put yourself out there and to ask them, what would you like me to do be doing… is there anything in particular you would like me to improve — etc.

9 Debra F

My boss says I am the best worker she has ever had and she could not do it without me.

Oh wait…. I am my boss (SAHM). The subordinants (kids) might not agree, actually I might have heard mumbling about the worst person in the world and maybe plans for an uprising, but really what do they know. LOL

10 Gregory

I’m in the military and am subjected to “financial counselings” at random times, pretty much whenever my supervisor feels like heckling me.

By and large my fiscal situation is comparable to Michael Phelps in the Beijing Olympics. But there’s always some negative feedback from this guy, who complains constantly about the debt he’s in and the irresponsibility of his wife and her uncontrollable credit card shopping sprees.

11 Mo D.

Annual Review… 3 words… waste of time… the same stuff is always re-hashedyear after year… formal Goal Setting in February takes about 30 minutes and an informal “How are you progressing” follow-up about 6 months later. We have to follow the rules and regs of our US head office, so there isn’t much wiggle-room to really go out and proove your worth. I go in with a smile, pretending to be interest in what my boss and I are discussing… it’s an Oscar-worthy performance on my part! LOL!!

12 Erin

When you first start out at my company, you have a 30 day review, then a 3 month review, then a 6 month review, THEN a yearly review….I’ve been there for a couple of years and the first were pretty scary but I’ve been lucky enough to work at a boutique ad agency and am very close with my boss, so we usually see eye to eye on most things and my reviews are never really a surprise :) But I feel for those who have scary ones!!

Same stuff as most reviews: What areas do you think you need to improve in? What are your short and long term goals? How do you plan to achieve them? Blah blah blahhhhhh…but now I’m the one GIVING the reviews ;)

13 Neo

Oh man, don’t get me started on this…. I just completed my annual self-assessment today, 15 detailed questions that I needed to answer and provide commentary on my own performance and what I need to work on to improve. Then I need to rate performance for each question as well.

This will be followed with a one-hour session with the boss to review my performance relative to my current goals and document 2012 goals. I would be OK with this if I thought it would actually have an impact on my bonus, but the reality is that this process was established to avoid law suits and rationalize the pre-determined compensation structure. Basically its a CYA process.

14 -Shirt

Last place I worked at, there were forms to fill in and consult with management, then you got what they wrote and had to respond in writing, and it took about a day to fill in all the forms, have a meeting, and all that crap. And it was very much there to tick boxes.

The current firm there are three partners that run it. Each of them fills in a tickbox sheet with a little comment box at the bottom, you sit down with the senior one to go through it all. Mine usually goes like:
Him: Good year this year?
Me: Yes
Him: This area is weak and you need to improve (point at tickbox on area of job that I never do because we have a team of specialists sitting ten feet from my desk)
Him: Also, you’re a bit self-confident, sometimes pretty arrogant.
Me: Yes.
Him: We’re going to pay you XXX much more next year.

Slightly more painful but SO much quicker. The last “annual appraisal” took under ten minutes.

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