Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review Time.

Well it's that time of year. Time to learn where you were ranked among your co-workers to earn your bonus, raise, and stock award.

It's a frustrating process, one that has been blasted in the media many times over regarding Microsoft- the fact that they pit you against your peers in a competition to earn the most money and biggest bonuses, and then decide upon it in a room full of managers that directly rewards you for how vocal and aggressive your own manager tends to be. Oh, you've got a soft spoken manager? Have fun with mediocre reviews until the next re-org.

They temper the process by telling everyone that an average review at Microsoft is equivalent to a stellar review at a different company, and they do give bonuses and awards that make that impression as well, with average reviews netting people large 10% bonuses. But that doesn't shake the distinct feeling that you are still just average among your peers. Especially since they only have so many of each kind of rating for each group- essentially meaning, that if there are five of you, one of you has to get a horrible rating, and one has to get an exceptional rating. This is the crux of the matter- what if you have a team of five STELLAR individuals that make the company millions of dollars each? You haveto sit down with one of them and tell them they are rated remedial. Or what if you have a team of 5 underperforming individuals that do nothing? First, you should be fired, second, you haveto give buckets of cash to a few of them.

What makes this all so frustrating, personally, is that the rewards and ratings were set and agreed upon a few months ago. Usually in June. SO, I've been waiting several months after my ratings and reviews have been completed to find out what they actually are. This is frustrating, because in the mean time, I operate in a vacuum of information in my daily work. My mid year review, my boss wrote down that I was performing at an exceptional level- but what does that even mean? Does that mean he sees me as someone who is going (or already did) earn a 1 rating? Or does that mean he was patting me on the back? Or yet even better, that he put me forth as a 1 rating individual, but my score was argued about by several senior managers that have no knowledge of me or my work, and bumped down to a 3? Who knows, the scenarios are boundless.

So I find out my review in roughly 30 minutes. Honestly my expectations are all shot to hell- I'm pretty sure I get at least a 3, but between 1 and 3, I have absolutely zero bearing on where I might fall. I'm only sure of the 3 or above idea, because 80% of the company review distribution is locked up in ratings 3 and above. So I'm pretty sure I performed better than the lower 20%. I think.

It makes the actual dollars and cents not matter as much- not that I don't really look forward to wads of cash, but I more look forward to improving myself and being a better employee. I know that sounds sort of lame and cheesy, but I guess it's just part of my personality of trying to please people, which dates back to my earliest years, when I would constantly bring my mother glasses of water wherever she was in the house, even if she didn't want any. The end result was just a lot more dishes. But the attitude and the determination are still there, albeit expressed in a different method.

Wish me luck, pray for me, and... I guess it doesn't matter, the rating has been decided months ago.