Friday, September 18, 2009

Mail to My Manager Regarding Performance Review

In the performance review, I was given bottom 10%. After that I sent a mail to my manager explaining my thoughts on the performance review. These are the few snippets of that mail.

There will not be any change in my work or the way I work irrespective of what I get in the review. That just does not matter to me. My goal is to provide value to the shareholder of the company. I don't do some thing, just because you said, or your manager said, or to get promotion. Since, I am a very small part in the over all company, and my scope is limited to the development of my project, I do things which make development successful, which in turn provide value to the company and to the shareholder of the company. I will not do anything which makes the project unsuccessful even if it means I don't get promotion.

In the last one year, I got the following kind of comments to get promotion or for getting more than Achieved.
1. You should come up with new ideas like how Mr.XYZ is coming up.
2. You should become master of a technology.

I am in development role. I am not good at coming up with new ideas. That's why I did not chose Program Management role in the first place. Now, for getting promotion, they are expecting new ideas which is essentially PM's job.

I already have good experience in few technologies. What the company is getting by those? If I become master of yet another technology, what the company is going to get? Give the project that I have to work on. To do it efficiently, if I have to learn a new technology, I will learn it and do it. The manager can always say that, after few months, we get a project that requires knowledge in this technology, and I will start learning it. Why are they expecting to learn each and everything now? What do I have to do after becoming master of a new technology? Why is it a criteria at the time of promotion?

The criteria to get a promotion should be providing more value to the company. There can be thousands of different ways to provide more value to the company. Till now, everyone is stuck at these two points. Is it possible to get promotion just by working on the project? If it is no, then there are serious problems with the process itself. It implies that, there is no use of working for the project? Do things that are useless to the project, and you will get promotion.

One manager in our group said, I should reject the work that is not complex. Because, if I do non-complex work, then I don't get promotion. So, should I reject all the non-complex work? If everyone rejects non-complex work, who will do that work? Then most of the time, that type of work goes to some one who is very recent to the company or who is reserved. That does not create a good environment. Even if they do non-complex work, but, if they do it efficiently than others, then they should recognize it.

I am ready to work on anything that you assign to me. I will not do anything else. Can I get promotion? If it is no, then company is destructing itself. If it is yes, can you give work in such a way that, I will get promoted in 6 months? If I have not done anything within the agreed time and quality, tell immediately. If I fail in more than 10% (or you can come up with some number) of the tasks, you can reject to give promotion. Is it possible?

In general, In performance review, I expect the following.
* What I did not do well?
* What I should have done to get exceeds expectations?
* How can I provide more value to the company by continuing in that project?

But, I never got these answers. I get answers which do not have any impact to the project in the near term. They give suggestions that I should learn x, y, z technologies. After 6.5 years in the industry, I know my personal goals. What I am expecting from them is, the details on how can I provide more value to the company. While providing more value to the company, I will find out how to align with my personal goals. I don't need somebody to bother about my personal goals. First bother about company's goals. After that, if that person has time, then they can bother about my personal goals. But, nobody is bothering to tell me how can I provide more value to the company, but they are very worried about my personal goals.

One thing that I don't like, and is there in many companies is, Comparing with others and giving rating. (In the performance review in our company, all the employees in a level would be put into three buckets, top 20%, middle 70% and bottom 10%) Due to this 20-70-10 rule, it is clear that, 10% of the people will have to go to bottom. Even if everybody is doing their best, still by this, 10% of the people would be in that bucket. Doing my best is not enough to be move up. Stopping others would give benefit. Of course, while doing that, we have to be very careful. If a person comes to my desk for help, then I should reject that by giving one very valid reason. Then, I have to make sure that, everybody else in the team knows that, he is not capable of doing that, and requires help. Then, I should offer help and do it. By that way, I would be safe. If I don't do that, then everybody gets the impression that, that person can be capable of doing everything, and nobody will get any opinion on me. This creates really bad environment. Many managers say that they look at everything, but in most of the cases, they don't come to know it unless one of them tells. If I escalate all the small things, I can easily prove that I am far better than others. But, I hate to do that.

I mentioned all these to improve the process in the project and to provide more value to the company, and definitely not because I was put in bottom 10%. Irrespective of whether there is any improvement by this or not, my attitude and my way of work will not change. If I get more help to work efficiently, I will do more. Otherwise, I do whatever I can do alone. But, my effort towards the project will not change.

If I am a pilot, and if I know that travelling by my flight/helicopter is going to create problems, then I simply don't allow anybody to travel irrespective of who is asking me. In between the travel, if I come to know that going in one direction creates problems, then I will not go in that direction. Even if others force me to travel in very unsafe conditions, I don't listen to them, and do what is the best for everyone. I have the same attitude for the project that I am working on.

In summary, I am going to work to provide value to the shareholders of the company. If anybody is going to help me in that, I will take their help. If anybody is going to stop me in that, still I will do whatever I can do with the power that I have. Even if I don't get promotion, or get the bottom 10%, I am not going to change my way of thinking. Had I done all the things that others said, I would not have been in bottom 10%. But, that would have resulted in bigger failure of the product, which meant more loss to the company which is a loss to the shareholders. That is against my principles. So, even if we go back in time, I would not have done what others were expecting me to do. Even if you say, I may have to leave the company with that attitude, still I will not change it.


  1. Mee job pothe meeru ikkadiki vacheyandi, ok na and e letter me manager ki link pampivandi and e letter choosi reply icchada?

  2. Satish, I liked the thoughts in your reply. A few things I wish to say, however.

    First, make sure you are not posting the confidential matters of the company -- even if related to you -- outside. Remember that we all sign a confidentiality agreement while joining. The suggestion is less for legal actions or firing from the job, and more for a breach of trust.

    Second, I appreciate your clear and simple thoughts. And I believe that most company environments are unsuitable for simple minds. Looking at your this post and a few others, I see that you will not be in the current company for long. I am of the opinion that we should enjoy our work, may that be of an engineer or a cobbler. I hope you find such an environment soon.

    Third, which is derived from second, is that although one need not tamper someone else's image in the group, he may have to save his own image from getting tampered. Your current method is on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi that I will not do anything even if others harm me. The one I am talking about goes on the lines of self-defence. You choose your philosophy.

    Finally, I have always appreciated your technical knowledge and your ability to take keen interest in it. I am sure such reviews are temporary phases and you will soon find yourself amongst people who admire you a lot.

    Best wishes.

  3. hey.. start working on your resume... maybe the next guy/manager would understand you more

  4. Satish.. I have a Universal, yet simple formula for cruising up in a company and imortantly it works as guided missile which bangs the target with good precession.

    Just carry out the thought process of your boss by yourself ... I mean the bosses should excert least thinking efforts when they have 'YOU' with them.
    It is like they have outsourced all their thoughts, Ideas,Intiatives etc... to you as a loyal,Dynamic and Efficient service provider.

    unlike a soft labour who comes at certain AM work till some PM and goes off with a pay check. here you are working in a pardigm of inevitability so be keen to make most out of the oppertunities

    All the best