How An IT Leader Does A Performance Review

by drjim on February 26, 2009

IT Leaders Need To Find A Way To Make Performance Reviews Work

IT Leaders Need To Find A Way To Make Performance Reviews Work

I hate performance reviews. I hate getting them and I hate giving them. In my mind they are a waste of time for both the IT Leader who’s giving them and the IT staffer who is getting them. I’m not sure who dreamed these things up, but they remind me of a 19th century factory environment when the guy working on the assembly line would be called up to the big boss’ office once a year and given his pay raise. Look, it’s the 21st Century, don’t you think that we could do things better?

My main gripe with performance reviews is that I believe that the two parties that are participating in the review are not really talking about the same thing. The manager is using this mandatory meeting as a once-a-year opportunity to try to remember who this person is and what they’ve been doing over the past year. The manager will have filled in mandatory text as answers to questions like “Where is improvement needed?” The expectation  is that this will be a backward looking discussion to talk about how the employee has been performing.

On the other hand, the employee shows up for the meeting with the hope that he / she will have an opportunity to talk about getting a pay raise or even a promotion. The expectation is that this will be an opportunity to have a forward looking discussion about how to advance the employee’s career.

Sorta looks like a train wreck in the making doesn’t it?

I’m a big fan of having four separate meeting each year (at the start of each quarter). The purpose should be to talk about how things have gone, what is expected for the quarter, and a review of the employee’s career situation and goals. It should be quick and it should be positive – “here’s what you need to be doing” type of theme. Now that would be a performance review worth attending!

Do you get anything out of your annual performance review? Do you give performance reviews? Do you try to make them more meaningful? How has this worked out for you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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