Review time (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Review time (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours)

You’ve been around for long enough to participate in the firm’s 360 degree review process. This is where people you have worked with get to review you, saying what you’re good at and what you need to improve on. The beauty of the game is that you also get to review them. HR thought up this sophisticated review system that should make sure that reviews are objective and that juniors are able to voice their opinions on the performance of their seniors. However, unlike the art of gift giving, in banking, it is not only the “thought that counts”. The 360 review process is really a large-scale exercise in the age old strategy of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

You have been asked to review Gianfranco, an associate you have been working with very extensively on a merger the past few weeks, who is also the most incompetent and lazy individual you have met in your life. You sit looking puzzled at the assessment form, scratching your head as to how you can come up with anything even remotely warranting a positive comment from your experience of working with Gianfranco.

“What are his key strengths (name five)? Note any areas for development:”

Key strengths? Like finding any strengths wasn’t enough of a challenge, you want me to find the key ones?!? Areas for development – p-leeeeease! You can list everything under the sun and then some and you wouldn’t even be close. Start from the fact that he cannot write (and to a large extent speak in) English if his life depended on it. He can’t do numbers (which can be a strength because he wouldn’t be able to spot a fuckup in your models ever), he dresses like a Sicilian mafioso and uses more cooking oil to slick back his greasy long hair that all the kebab shops in London do in a year. What more can you say than this individual simply sucks?!?

You look up to your screen, and hey presto, not even five minutes since HR has informed you that you and Gianfranco will be reviewing each other, you have an email from Gianfranco in your inbox.

“Ciao buddy. You wanna go an have a coffee? I buy, ok”

You reply saying sure and five minutes later, the two of you are sitting in Azzurro, the Italian café round the corner with two espressos in front of you. After no more than the bare minimum needed to vaguely resemble a polite conversation opener from Gianfranco (not that he’s being rude on purpose, but the dumb shit can’t speak any damn English), he cuts to the chase.

“So, e, I ‘a see ‘a dat ‘a you an me are ‘a gonna’ do’a the 360 degree, no?”

For a moment, you aren’t sure if he’s referring to the 360 review process or trying to proposition you! Admittedly, the greasy hair, half unbuttoned shirt, and sleazy look he constantly has about him don’t help here, but you decide to give him the benefit of the doubt on the back of the fact that he is consistently sleazy (this decision being reached with a rather hefty amount of hope that you are right on this one).

“Yeah, so, eh, ‘a I ‘a explain ‘a ‘ow ‘a this ‘a thing ‘a work, ok?”

“You ‘a want an offer, no? Ok, so, I a’ ‘elp you and ‘a write ’a you a good review, ok. So, an ‘a you, ‘a you ‘a ‘elp ‘a me too, no?”

Before you have time to catch your breath at this highly inappropriate proposition, he pre-empts an answer.

“Ok. Super – duper, e’. Allora, now ‘a we ‘a enjoy ‘de espresso. No more ‘a talk ‘a da work.”

Back at your desk, you get back to work. In no less than half an hour, you complete Gianfranco’s review and submit the following to HR.

“What are his key strengths (name five)? Note any areas for development:”

Gianfranco is an excellent banker, and an individual I have learnt a great deal from over the past few weeks. I have had the pleasure to learn from him and observe how the work he does wins the respect and confidence of clients and senior bankers alike. He is diligent and knowledgeable in the fundamentals of valuation. He strives for perfection and is an excellent communicator. His ability to clearly and concisely make complicated points understood is unrivalled and I am certain that this characteristic will make his an even better banker in the future. Whilst an individual could always be said to have an opportunity to develop, it would be most unfair to point out any areas for development in Gianfranco’s case, as he exceeds the expects in every aspect of investment banking. In everything he does, he takes on the responsibility (and delivers the results) that would be expected for a banker at VP level or above. He is a truly exemplary individual and I am proud to have the pleasure to learn from and work with him.


Anonymous said...

Amazing...I love the review you have written.....You are a true I-Banker :)

ProgBlog said...

But what was his review of you...?