It’s mid-year review time again, and this year I’m resolving to do my review by the date that it’s actually due instead of when I usually do it, which is maybe two days before the actual review discussion. I’m generally positive about the review process but, I have to say, the part that gets old the longer you work here is the “Top 3 Strengths and Weaknesses” section. Back in the “old days,” when I had only been at the company, say, three years, this section was actually a very useful opportunity for me to reflect on what I did well and what I could improve on at a more general level. For example, in 1995, a new weakness showed up on my list – delegation – that reflected my move towards owning more areas in the product and beginning to have some management responsibilities. That was a good opportunity to think about why I had issues with delegation and what I could do about it, above and beyond the more targeted goals that I had for the next year.
But, c’mon. This is my 13th mid-year review and I’m running out of things to say. It’s not that I don’t have strengths and weaknesses to talk about, it’s just that they looks suspiciously like last year’s strengths and weaknesses. And the ones from the year before that. In some sense, over the course of 13 years I’ve managed to work my way through the easy weaknesses and now am engaged in the long twilight struggle against my more intractible weaknesses. I mean, I expect that I’m going to be working on my weakness concerning “dealing with ambiguity” for the forseeable future – I’ve improved a lot in the last year, and I expect to keep improving, but this is the kind of thing that is as much a part of my personality as anything else. Over the course of, say, the next ten years of my life I expect it to continue to improve, but it’s probably going to sit there on my “strengths and weaknesses” list for most of those years (assuming I’m still at Microsoft in 10 years, you never know…).
So this year I’m probably going to end up just copying last year’s list, but I’m not feeling particularly good about it. Nobody likes to feel like they’ve plateaued. So I’m choosing to view it as a sign of maturity. Yeah, right. I guess we’ll see what I come up with next year…]]>
<![CDATA[You've got to mix it up a little and have some fun. Rather than changing the content, change the form. Try writing your mid year review as a series of haikus, for example. What are they going to do, fire you?]]>
<![CDATA[I like Joel Spolsky's take on performance reviews:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000070.html Basically that they are pointless, all things considered. I think the best performance review technique would be to find some way to get employees to think about their areas needed for improvement but without deriding or punishing those who do poorly, or pandering to those who do well.]]>
<![CDATA[To get you going on the Haiku front, here are some examples from a mail I received quite a long time ago. Hope you don’t mind me filling the comment space with this junk, but I do find them funny. In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules -each poem has only 17 syllables;
5 syllables in the first line,
7 in the second,
5 in the third.
They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity.
Here are 16 [sic] actual error messages from Japan:
The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist. ——————————————– Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return. ——————————————– Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much. ———————————————— Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams. ————————————————– Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that. ————————————————— Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone. ——————————————- Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down. ————————————————— A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone. ————————————————– Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred. ————————————————— You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here. ————————————————— Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will. ———————————————— Having been erased,
The document you’re seeking
Must now be retyped. ————————————————— Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank. ————————————————— ]]>
<![CDATA[funny... i was just sitting here filling out my midyear review "at the deadline" ... well... maybe a few hours past the deadline which is VERY good for me. I came across the strengths and weaknesses section and decided i needed inspiration. http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=what+are+my+top+3+strengths&FORM=SSNO and what pops up but a blog by another microsoft employee looking for the same inspiration. ]]>
<![CDATA[As if you are going to answer truthfully. "My strengths include being a really good party host and my weaknesses include the fact that my mind often wanders to thoughts about my next party when I am supposed to be adding up figures." Yeah right.
EVERYBODY HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.ACTUALLY THESE CHANGE ACCORDING TO TIME AND AGE.THE COMMON WEAKNESSES ACCORDING TO ME ARE:-
1-PUNCTUALITY-ITS A VERY COMMON WEAKNESS.JUST EXAMINE URSELF YOU WILL FIND URSELF HARDLY 30-40 PERCENT PUNCTUAL.SO START WORK ON IT AND CONVERT IT INTO YOUR STRENGTH.
2-PATIENCE-I WILL NOT EXPLAIN IT BRIEFLY YOU JUST GO THROUGH YOURSELF U WILL COME TO KNOW MOST OF IT.
3-DETERMINATION-WE THINK THAT OUR DETERMINATION POWER IS VERY GOOOD BUT IN REALLY YOU WILL FIND WE ARE ADJUSTING THE THINGS WE ARE COMPROMISING WITH OUR DREAMS
IN THE END I WOULD SAY CONVERT ALL THESE WEAKNESSES INTO YOUR STRENGHTS.NOBODY WILL STOP YOU.
BEST OF LUCK GO FOR YOUR LIFE
yar tussi greate ho tofa kbool kro