During this time of year Microsoft goes through the annual review process. Other Microsoft managers have written their thoughts on this process - Microsoft's 3.0 (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Curve), Microsoft Stack Ranking is not Good Management & The Silly Season
Personally I find the overall process pretty fair, as people are pretty honest when it comes to their performance (at least the folks who have worked for me have been) and we don't seem to disagree much about the overall rating much. I think It may be because I have a pretty open line of communication with my team (which is critical since over half my team members are interstate so regular communication is really critical to get the job done), which means any performance issues don't come as a surprise to any of us.
However, the one area I struggle with constantly is the stack ranking process. To me it's like asking which of my children do I love the most - my first born, the smart one, the talented one, the funny one, the one who is good at xbox, my only daughter, my youngest. It's not easy, I can tell you. I get harder if the dilema was centered around me having to save the life of children - you know the conundrum, a lifeboat with room for only 5 and there are 6 of use. Who do I choose?? Me jumping out isn't an option. What a dilema. This is why my wife doesn't want to go out on boats with all the kids.
But I digress.
Intellectually I know it's a combination about past performance, ability, potential, passion, as well as the comparing each person to their peers, but emotionally (and let's face it I am an emotional person), I struggle with this. It gets even harder when the management team gets together and has to go through a similar exercise with the larger team. I find that top performers and bottom performers are pretty easy to identify. But being able to sort out those in the middle, is what I find so challenging. In the end, I think we did an okay job and I am pretty sure we'll have some people who are disappointed and others who are pleasantly surprised.
I just hope no one tries to hunt me down with the Office Bow of Death following the reviews
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