This year’s a little different

I had my annual evaluation meeting this morning. I hate these meetings. My first one – years ago – was a 3.5 hour rant by my superior, telling me how I lacked the knowledge to fulfill the job description. They could have delivered this message in two minutes. It created another huge dent in the moon landscape that is my self-esteem. Ever since, I have looked at annual evaluation as a load of horse crap, and even professionally organized workshops on how to use these meetings S.M.A.R.T. at my previous institute could not change my mind. I forget what the abbreviation stands for, as the workshop bored the hell out of me and felt like a complete waste of time, energy, and tax money. (Ever since, I firmly believe that I could give workshops on any topic as well)

I already had an annual evaluation last year, but I had not completed a full year yet. I was in a mentally dark place. I wasn’t happy. The onset of the pandemic triggered all kinds of anxiety, and brought about mental work loads that were simply too much for me. Combine this with repetitive bouts of insomnia, a young child that wakes up between 4 and 5 in the morning, and you have a recipe for disaster. The conclusion of last year’s meeting was that I wanted to cry under a thick blanket and let my river of tears flow me back to my home country. I was an absolute wreck.

Maybe that’s the secret to successful meetings. Create very low expectations from the get-go. Any success that follows may seem as a win…? Maybe that’s why this morning I left the meeting feeling unscathed. Don’t get me wrong, both my boss and I both spoke up about certain aspects of our collaboration. I’m not the person to sit back and say nothing. If you want such a meeting to take place, better be sure I will use it to improve my situation. Well, in my case (but probably any case) there is room for improvement, and this is very much true on both sides. We spent part of the meeting reflecting on expectations, and wrestled on how to make improvements that work for both of us. I think we may have found fitting solutions for the most pressing aspects. As my boss put it perfectly this morning – if you hire ambitious people, you cannot expect these meetings to pass in silence. At the end of this meeting I felt respected and valued. You might say that I even enjoyed this one.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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