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annual reviews

There's all this news lately about big companies ditching their annual review systems because employees don't like being scored, it's demeaning.

We have an annual review system. We score people. Nobody likes it.

But I'm not sure how else to do it. Once a year, I am told what my raise budget is, I sit down and figure how how much everybody gets as a raise. I bet if I asked my employees, "Should you all just get the same percentage?" they would say no. Every year I have some people who really work their butts off, a crisis comes down to them and we depend on them and they save us. I want to give them a smidge more. Or maybe we get somebody transferring in from another department and I think that person doesn't make enough, so I want him to get more. Or maybe there's a new guy and he's awesome and I know we've been losing newer guys to other companies a lot lately (happens everywhere - it's easier for them to move) so I want to give him a little more so he knows he is valued, and a little more makes a big difference to him since he's new and not earning a ton.

Since I'm on a budget that means another guy has to get a little below average. The difference isn't even crazy, it's just not as much as somebody else. So what do I tell him? Here's your secret raise, we don't have annual reviews so I'm not going to tell you what you COULD do better to get more money next year, you're not allowed to talk salaries with your coworkers so you don't know it's low, we'll just let you coast until the economy turns down then we'll lay you off, isn't that nice of us?

Yes it's competitive. The world is competitive. We compete to have better products than anybody else - the fastest, safest, most reliable, better better better than the other guy. So for my employee to say "don't compare me to anyone, that's not nice!" well hell, sorry man. I can't help it.

Also, as an engineer I have worked for plenty of bosses who couldn't be bothered to help me improve. That annual review forced their hand. We had to talk about it, I had to ask questions. It was a drumbeat. Yeah maybe HR forced us into it, but I was happy.

So that's my debate. Whenever a raise happens, people want to know the thinking behind it. That happens once a year.

So I guess the next question is could I give out raises randomly thoughout the year whenever I thought of it? I still feel like I'd get to the end of the year, see what's left of my budget, see who didn't get as much, and do a "look at the whole year" thing. Sounds a lot like an annual review... except an annual review that I do in my own head without telling anybody about it. UGH.

What would be the perfect system? Really?

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
athene
Apr. 10th, 2019 02:43 pm (UTC)
My company dropped annual reviews for quarterly check-ins. I like them so much more. Every quarter we review our progress, our plans for the next few months, and what else we need to be supported. I find it much better and much more helpful than a random scoring system. Also, I can remember what I did in the past three months, but over the whole year was always much harder.
daphnep
Apr. 10th, 2019 05:41 pm (UTC)
Another good post full of good points. You write this well.
andrewducker
Apr. 14th, 2019 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm fine with a single point for "Your overall achievement over the last year was a B+, have a 2.7% raise." - but there should be checkins all the way through the year, and there shouldn't be any surprises in your end of year.

Also, the obnoxious practice of making workers gather lots of feedback and write themselves up should die. It means that people who can sell themselves get bigger pay rises than strong workers who aren't good with the snake oil.
secret_woman
Apr. 16th, 2019 12:50 am (UTC)
We do annual employee evaluations where I work. It's Government so I think it's done mostly for documenation to prove why a certain amount is given. I don't mind the evaluations. My boss pitched it to me as this amazingly positive thing that I can use to prove my abilities when going for a new job or to even find ways I would like to improve. I love knowing where I stand. She wrties all of these notes on it and gives specific examples. First I fill it out on how I think I should be scored. I make sure to list things I would like to work on as well. She uses that as a way to help me achieve those goals. I look forward to it. So maybe it's all in the way it's pitched and the way it's lined out? Hard to say without seeing the system you guys use.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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