Karen Parkhill
Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, Comerica

Karen Parkhill is prompting some uncomfortable conversations at Comerica.

Under her direction, Comerica has changed the way it approaches its annual reviews with an eye toward giving Comerica's employees real feedback. Managers now discuss three strengths and three weaknesses with their direct reports — skills that employees need to "develop," as the company describes it.

The process that was in place before Parkhill arrived in 2011 focused on an employee's goals, performance, competencies and potential, but paid little attention to what needed to improve.

While it may have been awkward at first, the Dallas company wants discussions about how to improve to be part of its culture. It has rolled out the new talent management system — which affects mostly those who are vice presidents or higher — to 2,500 of its 9,000 full-time employees so far.

Parkhill's focus on improvement starts with herself, particularly when it comes to self-confidence. She says building self-confidence entails trying to always be prepared, visualizing success and not bottling up self-doubt. But the most important thing is to seek supporters.

"Make sure you surround yourself with people who lift you up and treat you with the respect you deserve," Parkhill says. "Nothing can erode our confidence more than being around negative people who don't recognize the unique talent we each bring to the table."

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