Sunday, October 08, 2006

Performance Reviews

October sees the launch of a new tool that, among other things, will run the back-end of our performance review system. This made me wonder about how we run performance reviews and whether or not the whole system works.

We know we have a 5 point scale and we know that 3 is not bad - you're doing a good job. We also know that managers must attain 60 management credits (in development classes) in order to be eligible for a review rating of 5. Our high performers get more rewards than our lower performers. Our lowest performers are actively encouraged to improve their performance with the full support of their manager. But how much of this is true? How much of this is actually the way the system works? In my experience it is the exceptions that show whether a system is working or not.

I know of several managers that never give a 5 rating regardless of how good the performance was. The reason each manager gives varies, but ultimately it comes down to these three reasons.

  • Too much work for the manager
  • Sets a difficult precedent / expectation for next year
  • Their manager told them not too

These may all be valid or may not hold water, but they all exist and because they exist they inhibit the performance review system and create a process within a process.

If managers need to get 60 management credits in order to be eligible for a 5 rating why aren't managers taking every development class they can? Sure, I know some managers that prize their own development and that of their team, I also know some managers that never attend classes. Why is this? Perhaps some have been told by their manager that no-one gets a 5 rating and with that mentality why bother working to get 60 credits to be eligible for something that is unachievable? Perhaps it is because they have performed well and received a 5 rating without the credits. I know examples of both.

Again this is a situation outside of the process and it has the potential to devalue the process.

Everyone gets reviewed every year, don't they? Not quite. Certain groups don't always follow the review process because they don't believe it works for them. In some areas of Sales there are managers that manage through commission - if you do well you will be paid well, if you do OK you'll miss out on the big rewards and live to see another day, if you do a bad job you'll need to find another job. Where does a 2 or a 4 rating fit into this management model? Top sales people don't want the 5 rating, they want the big financial rewards and peer recognition when they join The Club.

What does this mean for those of us out there following the process and working hard for that 5 rating and actively managing our people? Is the system worthless? Shouldn't all managers be consistent and isn't that the role of HR to ensure they are or our leaders to set the example? I'm not sure what the answer is, I'd like to believe someone is reviewing our Performance Review System and making sure it drives the right kind of behavior. When my next review comes up, I'm going to ask my manager these questions.


Anonymous said...

Just noticed this blog.

Symantec is a mess. Especially the "Consumer" division. With high-school dropouts such as Rowan ("We can't innovate, so let's sue Microsoft!"), and English as a Second Language dropouts such as Jens, it is a wonder thant anything EVER ships in this division.

Another September death march has just blown by, and along with that has gone another rushed, poor quality, "slap a new UI on it" annual refresh. What? Another Sev 1 bug has been discovered, and if we check the fix in QA won't have enough time to look at that build before it ships? Screw 'em! Fix it! Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that none of our customers run into any of the side effects.

Month after month, year after year, the 'leader of the day' for this division steps up and drones on about how this time will be different. We will fix the performance issues. We will fix the uninstall problems. But it is always the same. We are date-driven to the point of not CARING.

I have an offer from Google in hand, and I feel sorry for J**** K*** when I announce my resignation in 3 weeks.

Anonymous said...

You can publish your grievances with Symantec or Microsoft by using a wounderful service offered by

This site is an excellent source of consumer review's done by actual consumers....


Anonymous said...

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I'm also looking at a potential job with symantec in the area of former veritas products. Can anyone help provide some insight into what employee morale is around symantec these days? How important are the veritas products seen to the overall future of the company? Is there a lot of pride in the products symantec produces? Do the good people want to stay or are people looking around a lot?

I realize this is a bit OT and it's hard to comment across orgs, but can't find many other resources to get a true sense of what things are like on the inside. I'd be leaving a fairly good situation, so would like to be somewhat informed before doing so.

Thanks in advance!

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