It's annual review season! Looking for some guidance on getting through, with a few parameters inside.
I'm a lawyer, and as discussed in my past question
, I hope to get out in 2012 and find a job better suited to my interests and aptitudes. But I've said the same thing every year that I've been a lawyer--and I don't want to get canned--so I have to put in a colorable performance at my annual review.
As I think about my impending review, however, three things trip me up:
1. Unexpected criticism can totally break the facade I have in interview settings, and I get defensive. The best I've managed when this has happened has been "That's surprising; I thought that project went well. I'll give that some thought."--or something similar. However, a couple of times these curveballs have been really meritless--as a made up example, "5845 is an OK writer, but consistently misuses 'there' for 'their'." As trying as it is to stay on message with unexpected criticism, I find it virtually impossible when it's something baseless. Any tips on keeping cool as a cucumber?
2. Notwithstanding 1., they've got me dead to rights on some things. Less performance related and more in the nature of not following the employee handbook (I know, watch out, we got a badass over here
). As another made up example, putting draft files on a USB drive to work on at home. I'm not seeking legal advice (and you are not my lawyer)--just looking for best practices as a self-interested employee. Yes, you put the files on a USB drive--do you own up when confronted in the review (which could be admission of a terminable offense)? Or do you not recall, but perhaps? Or certainly not? Again, assume we're just considering policy violations (i.e.
, checking Facebook, having a cameraphone) that do not have a monetary cost to anyone; not embezzlement, not sexual harassment; no cardinal sins.
3. "Where do you see yourself in five years?" I'm at the point in my career where, in five years, I should be partner. I have no interest in being a partner, and I'd just as soon be gone in five months. Obviously, I would never say anything about my plans in a review setting (or otherwise). But as good as I might be at putting on a facade in these reviews, I doubt I could say with a straight face that I aspire to being a partner--but I don't think I can afford not to appear gung-ho. "We'll see what comes/I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility that..." seem, in this context, far too weak, like a marathon runner at mile 25 uncertain whether she has plans for finishing the race.
Obviously, these questions are not unique to law firms, so I'd love to hear from anyone and everyone.