As Chris has mentiond, it’s review season again, which means that employees all over Microsoft are dusting off last year’s reviews and beginning to write up their goals for the coming year. Kind of like New Year’s resolutions, but with money involved. Anyway, one common part of review season is a flood of emails from managers saying something along the lines of,
You are a person who has been identified as having worked or had contact with Bob over the past year. I would appreciate it if you could send me some feedback on Bob’s performance over the year. How has it gone overall? What has Bob done particularly well? What suggestions would you have for improving Bob’s performance? Thanks for any comments.
Not every manager does this, of course, but it’s happened fairly regularly in the groups I’ve been in. And, in general, it’s been a good thing to do – you get a diversity of opinions, you get to see more broadly how effective a report is being, you identify positives and negatives that you or the report might not have thought of, etc, etc. More than a few times, anonymous quotes from the responses my manager has gotten from these queries have shown up on my review and they’ve always been enormously helpful, even if they’re critical of something that I’ve been doing (or not been doing).
As I’ve started thinking about my review this year, however, I realize that I’m in a somewhat interesting situation. A non-trivial amount of my past year has been spent interacting not with people inside of the company, who my manager can email, but with people out in the community. My book has been a significant part of that, but this blog and various newsgroups have played a bit of a role as well. A lot of the impact of those things – whether positive or negative – can be difficult to quantify because the benefits are less concrete. For the internal stuff, I can say “Well, I resolved x bugs and closed down y issues and solved this really big problem.” But all the work that’s gone into the community is a little harder to nail down because it’s so diffuse. Sometimes, I’m not even sure anybody’s reading anymore… until I say something about C#, that is.
So, I’m going to try an experiment. What I’d like is feedback on my community performance over the past year (coincidentally, I’ve been blogging almost exactly a year) from whoever wishes to provide feedback. How has it gone overall? What have I done particularly well? What suggestions would you have for improving my performance? What would you like to see that I’m not doing? Please don’t constrain yourself to comments just about the blog – feel free to comment on any aspect of my community involvement (book, talks, newsgroups, etc). The more specific you can be (”It was very helpful when you said x.” “I really dislike it when you do y.” “I wish that you would do more z.”), the more useful the feedback is.
Since I’m not going to be giving out my manager’s email address (I do want to have a hope of getting a good review), you’ll have to leave anonymous comments either here or on the comment form. Either one is good, although you can certainly feel free to leave the good stuff here and the bad stuff in the comment form… just kidding. I promise (and you’ll have to take my word here) that all reasonable feedback, positive and critical, will be forwarded to my manager to be considered during my review. By “reasonable,” I mean that feedback that is not incoherent, spam, obscene or patently without redeeming value. I also reserve the right to withdraw the request in the case that this request somehow goes horribly, disastrously awry. Since this isn’t Slashdot, I feel fairly confident it won’t, but it’s best to be upfront about it.
So, what do you think?