Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The One-Year Review

Today I had my one-year anniversary review at work.

My anniversary date was last Tuesday, November 29. I was quite aware of the date, as I remember starting last year on the first Monday after Thanksgiving. I also knew a review was forthcoming, but I wasn't sure when to expect it. In the past, reviews have always been fashionably late, and we have a lot going on in our office and in the company in general right now, so I was prepared for it to be a while before they finally got around to it. I was pleasantly surprised when it rolled around today. It was really informal; the company controller just came by my desk a little bit before lunchtime and asked if I had a few minutes, and that was all it took.

I was a little surprised that it was the company controller that did the review. When I had my 30-day review (after I had been there for nearly four months), it was with the director of my department. Right now, of course, that individual is transitioning to another position (she's the head of a fledgling new division), and the new director has been on board for less than two weeks and is still fulfilling her two-week warehouse obligation. I had assumed that if the review happened while we were in our transition phase, it would be done by the department manager, the lady who handles the day-to-day operation of our department and has essentially been the acting director for the past month or so. I was glad it was the controller, though; even though I don't deal with her very often, I'm more comfortable with her than I am either the (former) director or the manager of my department. The new director seems like she'll be pretty cool, but that's just a first impression.

Anyway, it was cool that it was the controller in that I'm comfortable with her, but it sucked in that she isn't very involved in our department and so doesn't know all that much about what I do or how well I do it. She had notes that had been prepared by the director and manager of my department (as well as, I suspect, some other members of the department), but she was basically just an intermediary for that. That was fine when she was telling me what a great job I was doing and how happy everyone was with my work. When she offered a critique, though, I wanted to defend myself but realized that I would be wasting my time. I would be defending myself to the wrong person. Sure, she could listen to my response and relay it to whoever made the original comment and then get back to me, blah blah blah, but it was much easier just to let it go.

The criticism--which in itself is pretty innocuous, which is why I let it go (had it been something major, I would have had to say something to her or at least find out who said it so I could talk directly to them)--was that I don't ask for help when I need it. I didn't say anything to that because I knew she couldn't answer the question I had, which was: when have I needed help? Doing the proofreading is a time-consuming job, and sometimes the pages pile up a bit. I keep working at them, though, and I get those piles down. Everything is always done as far in advance of the deadline as humanly possible, dependent mostly upon when the pages are given to me. When a group of pages are handed to me at 4:00 p.m. on the day before the deadline (as happened today), they're (probably) not going to be returned to the graphics department by the time I leave for the day. Sure, sometimes I have to work a little bit of overtime to get everything finished, but everyone in our department works a bunch of overtime. Everyone is busy. Who has time to help me should I ask? Oh, I'm sure they'd find the time, but it would be stupid for me to ask for help so I can go home on time while someone else has to stay late (and gets paid overtime) to do my job. I'm not as fired up about this as I probably sound, but I am honestly confused. I just can't recall a situation where asking for help would have gotten my work done so much earlier that it would have helped anyone. Granted, if I ever did need help, I would be hesitant to ask for it, because everyone else is so busy and because getting all of my own work done on time, even when there's a lot of it, is a point of pride for me. And I told her that. If I ever find myself absolutely buried and I have to pass some of it off, so be it. I just don't feel like that situation has arisen yet.

Other than that one critique--and really, I think "trying to do too much on your own" (essentially) is not bad as far as criticisms go--the review went really well. Toward the end, I was told that I had been given another pay raise. I was mildly surprised by that as well, since I had just gotten one a little over two months ago, but I was definitely happy about it. I'm now making another $.50 per hour, which will really help.

It's been an interesting first year at this place. There are some days when it still feels a little bit weird that I'm not going to my old job, believe it or not. Sometimes I wonder if I could walk back in there and pick up where I left off, without missing a beat. Not because I plan on going back, but just simple curiosity. No, after taking some time to adjust, I definitely like this new place better than the last place. Sure, at the last place I was never busy and had essentially the whole day to surf the Internet and do whatever sort of personal stuff I wanted, and now I'm busy pretty much all the time and can't really do personal stuff even when I'm not. Still, the job and the company are so much better. This company is so progressive, and things are always changing. You never know what's going to happen when you go in each day, and I like that. I like knowing that new responsibilities could come my way at any time, and I like knowing that my employers actually care about the employees and want to make it a good place to work. I've made some pretty good friends there, and that makes it so much more fun to go to work. I've had friends at jobs before, and sometimes good ones, but this place overall is pretty young and there's a pretty solid group of us making our way up through the ranks.

Of course, I'm not totally keen on all of my co-workers. One lady in my department basically accused me of not doing my job a couple of weeks ago. She was doing some of the proofing while I was out with the chicken pox, and after I got back she noticed that I was a lot faster at it than she was...so she baldly asked if I actually read everything on all the pages. I was torn at that point between giving her a simple "yes" and blowing her off, or going off on a total rant. I tend to get a little heated when I'm accused of things I haven't done, but I managed to restrain myself. This lady has a tendency to go off at the slightest provocation, and she makes me (and at least one other person in the department) uncomfortable. I thought about mentioning this during my review when I was asked if I had any concerns, but I decided to table it for now. However, I have a suspicion that she's been going through and re-checking some of my pages when I've finished proofing them, and if that continues, I will say something. She's not my supervisor, and the catalog pages are none of her concern. I have to add that I have not gone out of my way to re-check any of the pages that she took care of in my absence (for which I am grateful), but some of them have come back to me due to changes or whatever, and she misses quite a bit.

But that's a mild concern, and really the only one I have about the job. I like working there, probably as much as I'll ever like working anywhere, and I actually feel motivated to do well and keep doing better. I'm interested to see what the coming year will bring. Hell, I'm interested to see what the coming month will bring. Our new departmental director will be actually starting to work in our office either next week or the week after, and I have a feeling there may be something of a power struggle. Also, our company Christmas party is next week, and our year-end reviews are somewhere out in the ether. There's just never a dull moment.

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