Much Ado About My Annual Review

Last year's goals

One would think that, after several quite passable and perhaps even glowing reviews from my boss, I would stop dreading my annual performance review. Alas, it still always feels like getting called into the principal’s office.

…Especially since I kind of pushed back on her non-standard PTO policy just the day before. I thought I was toast. I should have realized that she probably had my entire novella of a review in the can long before I sent her that email with the attached PDF.

On the night before my review, I thought about all the crap that’s gone wrong this year. I thought about how epically I’d messed up during one of my on-call rotations, going back to bed without alerting the DBA to implement my fix. I thought about how often she would stop by my desk when I had something on my screen other than work — kind of like when I was a kid cleaning my room, and my Mom would walk in just as I’d started to get distracted by a book or toy I hadn’t seen in a while. I thought about how monkey-minded I’ve been lately — my mantra for 2015 was the Zen adage, “Do what you’re doing while you’re doing it,” but I haven’t once felt like I was living that.

What I failed to think about was all the top-notch deliverables I’ve produced this year: dashboards, reports, analytical tools. I failed to acknowledge to myself that I bring a good deal of expertise to the table when it comes to planning out dashboards and user interfaces and figuring out how best to display metrics and visualize trends.

Basically, what my review for 2014-2015 boiled down to was: I do good work. Now I need to do more of it. (When I texted my husband, his response was, “All our bosses want more work. It’s nice to want things. 🙂 “)

That PTO email I was all worried had come off as me being insubordinate? Not even an issue. She verified that was the current policy, asked around to see how other managers handle people taking time off, and then asked me to ramp up my productivity around the times when I know I’m going to need to take time off. Which is absolutely reasonable.

So, as usual, I got worked up for nothing. She and I had a nice conversation about my weaknesses and strengths, possibilities for knowledge-sharing with the team in the future, new projects on the horizon — and never once did I feel like I was a big schmuck, like I’d convinced myself of the night before.

It really is true: we are our own worst critics.

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