Early appraisals: a bad omen?

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There is upset in some sections of JPMorgan’s technology team. We understand that the bank has been appraising its technologists earlier than usual. This is being taken as a bad sign.

“The end of year appraisal process usually starts in November. This year, it started in October and was completed a while ago,” one JPMorgan technologist in London told us recently ago. “There was no explanation for this,” he adds. “But the feeling is that the bonus pool is smaller than ever this year and that appraisals have nothing to do with bonus allocation any more.”

JPMorgan declined to comment on the timing of its 2012 appraisal process. However, one headhunter said he’d spoken to senior bankers at Deutsche and BNP Paribas who’d been appraised early too. “It seems people are being appraised ahead of time to help banks clarify their cut plans,” he said.

Does this mean that if you’ve been appraised early you will a) receive little or no bonus and b) find yourself on a list of potential lay-offs?

Not necessarily. Linda Jackson, managing director at career coaching firm 10 Eighty says banks usually already have all the information they need to determine who’s going to be cut. “They’ll usually look at appraisals from previous years,” she says – adding that if a redundancy is being made it’s supposed to relate to a role rather than a person, meaning that performance should really be irrelevant.

Lee Thacker, a headhunter at search firm Silvermine Partners, says most banks have already assembled lists of individuals to be cut. “Appraisals play a part, but it’s about revenues as much as anything else,” he says.

If you do receive a bad, early, appraisal, it’s not the end. Jackson says she’s been in situations where banks had given her lists of people to be cut, only to find that the individuals named had changed overnight after managers intervened. “Selection for redundancy is often about the number of advocates you have within the organization – not how well you’ve performed in the appraisal,” she points out.


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