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Say No to Reviews

I’ve given this some off-and-on thought, but after reading┬áthis thread, I’ve decided that I’m not going to do performance reviews.

1. Communication is too important.

If I’m not communicating to you so that you know whether you’re doing a good job or not, then you should yell at me to talk to you more. A forced annual review is not going to solve a bad communication problem.

2. Self-reviews are insulting.

Asking a person to review themselves is a bit insulting; not because they can’t do it, but because there’s an expectation of deceit. People almost never put down a 100% honest assessment of themselves, because it’s permanent. They want to highlight everything that’s good when they’re on the record (and well they should).

3. Reviews are a lie.

Some managers take reviewing seriously, but most don’t. Why? Because the employee is reading the review. So, there’s two paths you fork down: (a) trash someone because you’re planning on firing them, or maybe you’re just a sadistic bastard who enjoys ripping on people, or (b) you build them up, perhaps unrealistically, because you want them to be happy and work harder.

4. Year-long goals are impossible.

In this business, it’s virtually impossible to have goals for the year without being so ridiculously vague that it makes no sense.

5. We won’t be afraid to fire.

Some companies use reviews to bolster, motivate, or even frighten workers into doing better, because they’re afraid to fire people. We are going to be very particular when looking for employees, and if there isn’t a fit in the relationship, we’ll part ways amicably. There’s no sense stringing somebody along who isn’t a good fit, just because you mistakenly hired them. Take it as a learning experience and work to hire better people in the first place.

So, that’s my plan. I’m hoping there won’t be too much grief with the rest of the company when I say that I think engineering reviews are bad business. ­čÖé

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