I heard from my friends at Facebook that the environment there is equally crazy. Everyone knows that the performance reviews are based on lazy stats, so they game the stats. Every time someone requests a meeting, they are expected to give a "thank you" which is one of the measures for performance. Also, things like the number of reviews commented on could be easily gamed by adding a "+1!" as a comment which sounds like another undesirable place to work at. Maybe current Facebook employees can comment, however.
Raises were completely divorced from any performance assessment. You were paid whatever they thought the max was for your skillset, based on a bunch of data they had on what people at other companies got paid for similar work.
What we did have was 360 reviews once a year. It was basically a small survey you could fill out about anyone in the company, which they and their manager would see. You could evaluate your boss, your VP, or people who worked for you, or anyone else you worked with anywhere in the company. It was expected that managers do a 360 review for all of their reports, but beyond that you could do as few or as many as you wanted to. It was basically a start/stop/continue kind of thing.
It was such a refreshing change from the stack ranking at eBay, which forced good people to get shitty reviews just so they could "fit the bell curve". And as you said, it incentivized you to not praise coworkers and some people even actively sabotaged their coworkers to get a better rank.
Honestly I would never work at a place like this. Maybe it's lean and efficient for the company, but it definitely doesn't sound fun for the employee.
When you get let go, they ask in the exit interview if you were warned, if your manager gave you any feedback leading up to it, etc. And then they follow up if the person says, "it was a total shock". I've definitely seen managers make some bad firing decisions, but they were let go soon afterwards. Word gets around quickly to their manager that they let go someone who was a strong contributor.
Why would anyone give any kind of useful information in the exit interview? The only one who benefits is the company, they need to cover their back in case a suit over harassment comes up. If anyone wants revenge over poor management, keep silent, let the fellow continue to lose the company money and set them up for a lawsuit.
HR is not on your side. The company is not on your side. The union would be, but in software we can't have that.
Also, why would you want the company to fail? Just because they have one bad manager? My friends still work there, and if you have stock options, you even have a financial interest in the continued success of the company.
I see no downside in providing truthful feedback during an exit interview. Sure, it won't help you, but it helps everyone else that's still there.
Maybe you’re inclined to help them out just to be a good person, and that’s fine; but I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to do that.
When else would they ask? The exit interview is when you are being informed of the decision.
The process is you get a meeting invite for a 1 on 1 with your manager. They come in, tell you that you're getting let go and why, and then invite HR to come in. They then leave and HR goes over the paperwork and asks you about if you expected it. If you were a poor performer, then it's most likely not your first meeting with HR.
I'm not sure when else they would ask.
Perhaps have the manager give their decision making and their inputs in writing, have the employee review these and provide a response. After all, if the employee were good enough to have lasted six years under the scrutiny of other good peers, then a sudden firing needs investigation. That's how it is done at other places where people are valued.
This entire thread reminded me of the callous attitude toward firing shown in the movie "Margin Call". Is it all related to American culture that the rest of us don't understand?
> Is it all related to American culture that the rest of us don't understand?
In part, yes. Here in the US we don't really have worker protections. Many believe it is because of this that we have such a strong growth in business.
It objectively makes our economy more nimble and adaptable, but at the expense of employees.
A perfect example: I worked at a startup in 2000, and we had a bunch of people in the US as well as Europe. When business was down and we had to lay people off, we ended up laying off engineers in the US, because we couldn't get rid of any of the people in Europe quickly enough. We had to pay people for months before they were let go, and they didn't even show up to work. It was great for them, but it was bad for the company and also bad for our growth since we had to pay people to do literally nothing.
To be clear, I think workers need greater protections. But those protections should not be at the direct expense of the company. It should be indirectly through taxation.
But to get back to your question, yes, here in the US, workers are not treated as well as elsewhere. Entrepreneurs and businesses are seen as the drivers of the economy, not the workers.
At a previous employer, a manager would need to formally put you on a performance improvement plan to give you a chance to improve, to discuss about what's going on (maybe you need a leave of absence for family; or maybe training). HR should be surprised that the exit interview is the first time they're talking to the person.
If HR is just hearing about it for the first time in the meeting, that is when they would be following up, because it means the manager made a quick rash decision.
Keep in mind, the HR person will still have at least a few hours warning, since they are invited to the meeting ahead of time and will know what the meeting is about, because they have to prep the paperwork. So if they disagree, they are most likely to ask the manager to discuss it first.
That must be an absolutely horrible experience, if you genuinely didn’t expect it! Is there at least a reasonably generous severance package?
Edit to add: in fact, thinking about it, doing the entire process in a single meeting like that feels like a bit of a mean trick -- catching people off-balance so they’re probably more likely to answer the HR questions honestly, rather than having time to think about what they want to say and what they want to ask.
I wonder what questions that HR team asks and what use they make of the data.
For high level execs it got up into a whole year's salary sometimes.
Even for the lowest levels of engineers, the severance would be in the $40,000 range.
VPs could walk away with $1M+ in severance. CxOs even more.
The bond to co-workers at a former workplace is strange and tenuous - actually it goes the other way around, they reach out to you when they want to improve their situation. Let them ask you when they want out, then offer a hand.
Like I said, even when you get fired, you still have stock options. So you do in fact benefit by helping the company when you're leaving.
> The bond to co-workers at a former workplace is strange and tenuous - actually it goes the other way around, they reach out to you when they want to improve their situation. Let them ask you when they want out, then offer a hand.
Why not offer them help when they don't ask, in the form of giving feedback to HR? Why do they need to ask? Why can't I be altruistic and help just because?
I'll say this -- you're entitled to your opinion, but I really hope I never work with or for someone who shares your outlook. And I especially hope I never manage someone with your outlook.
Whatever happened to "we're all in this together"?
From the average perspective, I have found the parent's commenter's advice to be far more accurate. I don't think you have a good idea of how terrible and vindictive the average mid-level paper pusher in management or HR is outside Silicon Valley (I suspect there are quite a few in SV as well, but maybe you all are a little more skeptical about their utility). I don't want some maniac manager talking crap about me to everyone they know and consequently blowing up my meager job prospects just because I complained to HR about their shitty management style. Oh, and unlike your Netflix example, tens of people complained about terrible management style at a former employer, and not a single manager got fired or even cautioned as a result. So I'm going to smile, nod, and leave a company – nothing more.
So, in summary – hopefully this doesn't sound like flattery, but consider that you might be in the position of a Lakers player giving advice to a local pickup basketball group. The advice doesn't always translate well to a different context :)
I would hope I would act the same in that situation, trying to make things better for everyone, but honestly I don't know.
Hopefully the rise of remote work will fix some of this, giving you more prospects outside of your small town, and more flexibility.
> So, in summary – hopefully this doesn't sound like flattery, but consider that you might be in the position of a Lakers player giving advice to a local pickup basketball group.
Aw man, thanks for that ego boost today. I'll try not to let it go to my head. :)
But seriously, I always try to give advice that is generally relevant, because I am self-aware enough to know that just about every situation I've been in is not the norm. But thank you for calling me out, because sometimes I still make poor assumptions.
Thanks! I hope so too. :)
Because we are not in this together. I like working in collaborative environments but after switching jobs more times than I can count I've become more cynical.
- Co-workers are not your friends.
- HR is not your friend.
- Management is not your friend.
It's a business relationship and in the eyes of the corporate structure you are just a fungible resource being consumed to produce shareholder value. Some companies do a great job of creating a "culture" but even in these companies it's only a thin veneer over the machiavellian tactics that keep the corporate machine chugging along.
Luckily we all have decent jobs that we enjoy that presents interesting challenges, and earn a decent amount too.
My favorite personal experience on an exit interview:
Question: What did you like best about working at $Company?
Answer: The weather (it was in SoCal, so weather was typically great)
That was the best thing I could come up with, and was about as useful as I was going to be
I have also just run through the paces in ones where i know its not gonna change a thing.
I also work in a small enough community where its wise not to burn bridges because you very well may run across other again down the line.
If the company is trash and you lay it all out during the exit interview you're simply burning bridge (particularly if they do in fact act on your feedback and somebody gets smacked about it) and if you're ever in a situation where you get let go suddenly or whatever, the person who you blasted may veto your return.
You owe the company less than nothing. Play your cards close to the chest, say the reason for leaving is personal and not at all related to the company and move on with your life. Why would you want to help the company that just fired you?
I'm sorry for going a bit offtopic, but I have noticed this weird linguistic contortion "get let go" often. Why the euphemisms? You get fired. It doesn't hurt to speak plainly. This "let go" expression seems weirdly childish, like how people say that someone "passed on" to avoid confronting the hard reality of death.
And I'm not picking on you, I know that almost everyone talks like this now.
So it makes sense to use a generic term.
In most cases you use the generic term to avoid liability. Saying someone was fired could be libelous/slanderous.
Saying you were fired could be considered disparaging.
I'm sorry, but I highly doubt that this is the case.
Obviously in reality there were most likely some negotiations amongst the managers, as the new manager wouldn't want to get a reputation for stealing people.
But I saw people change teams pretty regularly. Not just because of bad managers, but because they just wanted a new challenge.
I guess "the firings will continue until morale improves?"
Usually you are called into a meeting. Told your services are no longer required. Then you are given career resource support / paperwork with an offer and helped off the property. At what point is there a chance for an exit interview? After they first fire you, you are in shock.
There are more civil ways where both sides give a couple months notice and giving notice doesn't mean you get escorted off the property. It means you'll still do your job for a couple months, maybe even train a replacement.
American companies do that thing where they fire you, you have to leave instantly and then they pay you salary for the time you would be still going to work in any normal company.
The rest of team spends time guessing the situation, trying to contact you to figure out what happened and generally is disturbed.
I remember working in a large company with easily a hundred people over the years. I'd say there were only 2 employees that were fireable materials.
The flip side is that it is also easy to fire, so you can quickly correct any mistakes you may have made in hiring.
This of course means more churn. But to someone working there, this felt like a good thing. It means you didn't have people just biding their time like you see in most big companies.
Never once did I think, "how does that person still have a job?" Unlike the other big companies I've worked for, where there is always at least one person who you know is just floating as long as they can and getting away with it.
How's the interview process though? Do managers get to hand pick candidates, without them being subjected to a grueling full day onsite with 6-8 employees?
I'd say that's the biggest issue to hire. Even if referred and highly recommended, it's trivial to be rejected due to any one interviewer having a bad day or an impossible bar.
The candidate is found, either by the hiring manager themself, through an internal referral, or via the internal sourcers/recruiters (shout out to them for being amazing at their job!)
The hiring manager sets up an interview panel, where they recruit relevant stakeholders (in the case of an engineer, this was usually peer engineers and sometimes other managers who that team worked with a lot).
The panel is usually around four hours, with four or five people, including the manager, someone from HR, and some future peers.
If that goes well, then a second panel is set up for round two, also about four hours, which usually involves a Director or VP or two, maybe another higher up peer or sibling team peer or manager, and a higher up manager from HR.
Throughout the day, the hiring manager solicits feedback from the interviewers, usually within 15 minutes of them finishing.
The final decision rests solely with the hiring manager, but usually most of the feedback needed to be positive to move forward. The manager could also stop the process at any time. So if all the feedback was "meh", they could save everyone some time and cut it short.
Out of town candidates would have the both panels set for one long day, or sometimes the afternoon and following morning, so for out of town candidates who got all the way through, it could be pretty grueling.
After all that, if the hiring manager decides to hire you, you could get an offer before you even leave, or within a day or two usually, unless there were multiple people for one position, and then you had to wait for them all (although if you were amazing you'd get an offer anyway and then if someone else was good they would get an offer too).
For me personally, the entire process from first contact to signing offer papers was less than a week, and that was pretty typical at the time.
But yes, you still had to pass a series of interviews. :)
My wife worked there for a year, and was used to seeing the emails to her dept. saying so-and-so was fired once or twice a week. Eventually she quit because of it, but she had an overall positive experience.
Instead the Netflix process sounds a lot more fair. If everyone is awesome, no one needs to be fired.
I guess a lot of that is helped by "at will" employment in the States. In the UK for example if an employee has worked for 2 years at a company you can't just fire them for no real reason.
If you do something negative to someone, that person will either directly address it with you or your manager at the time. The reviews are more to address longer term behavior.
I love how it creates the side effect that bad managers get fired if they fire a good employee (as you mentioned elsewhere). Its not even a written rule, but just through social physics it seems to bring out the correct outcome for people who actually add/subtract value.
I bet they also save a lot of money simply by not employing people who do nothing but look good and smooch around while being a negative contributor, since those people typically cost the most. And, a small portion of the money saved goes back into the salary of those who deserve it for the rate they are worth making them glad to stick around and help them succeed.
I left to start a startup. I would work there again in second if I ever go back to working for someone else (and they had a role for me).
School is a prime example, in my opinion - there is so much I "learned" in school that I'll never remember, because I didn't take a proper approach to learning - I just optimized for grades. I had a 4.7 GPA and could hardly tell you a thing about US history or recite a lick of Spanish, because I simply did not care about anything but getting the A so I could get into the college I cared about.
In the work environment, I can see a lot of parallels to this. If I'm competing with my coworkers, my incentive is to outwork and outshine them. A common thing I see is when a coworker does a bit of innovative work - it's almost guaranteed some other coworker will intercede before a chance at applause is given to discuss its obvious flaws, the plethora of alternatives out there, etc., leading the developer to feel like their implementation was not good. (For the record, I'm not talking about general criticism - I'm talking about the general pattern of not celebrating someone's achievements and then discussing how to continue improving, but rather a "why did you even do this" mentality).
The host shares a personal story from time when he was a cashier. The grocery chain measured performance as items scanned per minute and shared internal leaderboard.
Some items are hard to scan so the cashiers ended up skipping scanning them – so the store gave them away for free. But the managers were happy about their KPIs. (Look how many items are we suddenly selling per minute!)
 - https://www.npr.org/transcripts/669396192 (both podcast and transcript)
I love this podcast.
"Is there anything else I can help you with?"
And then immediately after that:
"No, ok I will close this chat."
Almost all call centres reward agents for short calls.
The supervisors were pretty swift and always looking for shrink. If you were letting dog food or whatever walk out the door, they would figure it out quickly and you would be gone.
The GMs were well paid and profitability and shrink were their metrics.
Maybe it's Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
If velocity gets turned into a target, corners will be cut (less testing, poor code quality) in order to get those story points for that sprint. Code quality suffers and tech debt accumulates, reducing output down the road.
On the flip side, as time goes on teams could just progressively estimate a greater number of points to stories of similar difficulty during the planning process. So velocity goes up but actual deliverable features goes down or stays the same.
at my company, raises have more to do with the financial situation of the company than subjective reviews (although we do have these, they just don't factor into compensation that much). if the company is doing well, everyone gets a nice raise. everyone gets the same percentage bonus every year which is calculated based on the entire company's performance. maybe this makes us unattractive for very competitive people, but it leads to a very cooperative environment. senior devs don't really have anything to lose by spending a few hours helping newer people, so they just do it.
I think this theory may be true in some fields like hedge funds or heavy sales performance based businesses.
In software, I am not sure high productivity people care about this issue, as long as their compensation is high enough.
That circles back to the original problem of how do you identify the high productivity people to give them high compensation. It works when the person spending the money is close enough to evaluate employee performance. But when it's some middle manager spending Zuckerburg's money you run into the agent/principle problem. The managers will do what's best for them (raises for everyone!) and not the enterprise.
So high productivity people who don't want everyone else to benefit are a bit of an oxymoron.
(* or at least most others)
If you can find a dev who can do for your company what LeBron can do for the Cavs/Heat/Lakers, great!
The reality is that you should be shooting for Shane Battier.
Obviously metrics vs just manager instinct/observation will benefit and harm different people in different ways.
A combination would be better. But life isn't really fair or objective, end of the day I'd rather work with someone I like and can socialise with and know working with them is stress free (which means my work is better) and can be trusted to just do their thing even if their performance is lower than someone who's a pain to work with but maybe puts in more hours.
Making software is a combination of engineering + artistry, it's not flipping X burgers an hour, objective performance isn't important it's the contribution of the whole individual.
 : I did have a manager judge me on this before, all it meant was I'd stay up all night, go into work, sit there like a zombie doing close to nothing, go home then sleep. Doesn't matter if I was barely doing anything, by their bum on seat metric I was doing great.
Every year, and once a year, all the managers in the company submit bids to the employees that they want to work under them. Employees then select their favorite bid, and that becomes their new manager. Employees are free to accept/reject bids based on any criteria: Salary/PTO/On-call requirements, etc.
In theory, you have a list of things to check for each category of performance. If you tick enough boxes, you get a certain category. In reality, it seems managers stack rank, and then apply the required curve to the stack rank. If everybody on your team does their job as expected (or better), too bad, X% need to be flagged as poor performers as declared by the performance curve.
Which is more fair? Note that objective measurement of the wrong thing will reward people for stuff other than quality, and probably stuff beyond their control.
Sadly, many people who don't do well take their feedback to mean that they need more code commits or comments. Some of them might even succeed at gaming the system for a short while due to a bad manager.
The truth from my experience is that as long as you drive meaningful impact, and are able to convince you manager and others of it, you will be doing well. Falling back to silly stat numbers is the toolset of people who don't have enough achievements.
In a way, good numbers don't mean good performance. But bad performance really does correlate with bad numbers. So people who are unhappy with their ratings will deduce that is the problem. It's aggravated by the fact people with good ratings don't boast about it (which is considered rude). I've noticed similar effects in college with grades. Judging by the vocal people one could assume the majority of the class failed at the exam, since whoever succeed will do well to not rub in their friends' faces)
* Personally I do use numbers in reviews, but only as a secondary way to backup my claims for what I did, or why it was important
* * If you are convinced that your manager and team only cares about stats, I recommend switching to another team or company when you have the opportunity.
Or perhaps it was meaningful to create a tool that was used to monitor and manipulate millions of people to vote In a particular way?
I do a good job because I'm a professional, and care about what my peers think about me. I'm not competing with them, I'm living up to the high standards that they have to me and vice versa. I don't do a good job because of some carrot on a stick tier "promotion" or "raise". Those are easy enough to get by job hopping or having the option of job hopping.
The PSC cycle (bi-annual review) is stressful, which I think is where the "craziness" stems. OTOH, there's not much day to day oversight - employees have an insane amount of freedom - so these 2x / year reviews are the tradeoff. ICs have tons of freedom, then twice a year, have to stand account for how they spent the last 6 months, compared to what other people in the same role and at the same level have done. (It's not stack ranking, it's more like grading on a curve across very different exam questions.)
There are mechanisms to provide feedback more frequently than every 6 months. It's agreed that the manager failed at their job if an IC is surprised by how a review ends up.
(FB also has 360 reviews every 6 months, offset from PSC by 3 months. These are usually upward reviews, and they are taken very seriously. Results from these determine manager career progression, so it's a chance for ICs to have their voices really well heard.)
Gaming the stats does exist, just as it exists everywhere. I think this is probably the only part that I don't strongly disagree with. It's also a hard problem to solve, with significant tradeoffs for different approaches. (And might be the most interesting piece)
I'm an Eng Manager at FB and my experience matches fbanon9876's.
In the rating calibration sessions I've been a part of, stats come into play as a data point in the overall package and usually as factors IN SUPPORT of improving someone's rating. i.e. This higher level person wasn't really driving a lot of cross-function efforts, but man were they shipping code...and vice versa.
I'm over 20 years into my career and have been around the block a few times at companies large and small. Overall, I feel that FB's performance process is, by a massively wide margin, the most fair process I've been a part of.
Also, one of the reasons for high pressure at FB is that there is a serious financial incentive for top performance. We're talking 25%-300% multiplier to your bonus AND stock refresh. For those at levels where RSU is a big part of your compensation, that can literally mean a 6 figure bump for 4 years. Contrast that at other companies I've been at, where I've received top ratings that resulted in a pay increase of 4% instead of the standard 2% and an extra 1-5% on my annual bonus.
I read a lot of conflicting things on teamblind or glassdoor about a poor WLB. It's hard to tell if this was someone in their early 20s out of school struggling to work with a large company or someone mid 30s that burned out.
If you just do your obligations does it look bad? I mean not everyone can be a top performer, especially if there is a curve. Some companies will PIP you out, but I can't quite get the vibe at FB.
I'd love to join, I interviewed last year but went thru some personal grief and didn't really prep well then failed the interview. I'd like to time to properly study this year because the process as was very do-able if you put in the effort.
I personally do 9-6, take my coffee breaks really seriously, sometimes to later work like reply to messages if I'm in the mood, and never (save for very very rare shitstorms) work on the weekend.
Teams vary, I've seen plenty of 9-5ers that make it work (some of them on my team). As you already pointed out, I also think younger people tend to overwork, and people with kids tend to reprioritize and go for a 9-5 schedule.
Since one gets to choose the team they join in Facebook (in contrast to being offered a job in a specific team) you get to choose a team that will fit your personality. This means you should pick a team not only based on their project, but also based on the people and the team's culture, and if you pick wrong, you can rather easily switch.
You can get PIPed out at FB, but in my org it's very, very, rare. Out of 100 people, only a few people received a rating that was less than "Meets All Expectations" and none were in danger of a PIP.
Regardless, people are measured by the work they do and against expectations of their level. There is no "hours your butt is in a chair" requirement. The big caveat is that some teams are more hectic than others and quality of managers may vary.
Compared to my previous... 4 jobs (+1 company founded), this is the 2nd lowest stress. The one lower stress job had 1/3 the compensation, no career growth, and was just a "marking time" federal tech job. YMMV.
But once you ask folks to do it and there's any positive outcome ... it becomes a thing.
I've been a part of similar systems and as soon as it is sort of institutionalized, it is a nightmare.
It became office politics and groups of mutual admiration clubs, and frankly a lot of folks who maybe needed to up their game in the view of their bosses got in on these sort of mutual admiration clubs. More so than those who didn't, and that really skewed things.
The underlying fact is a complement from a coworker might have jack squat to do with ... actually doing anything good, it could even be because of a bad thing, who knows, you just never know.
As soon as it isn't 'organic' it becomes kinda horrible.
Right, the incentive problem is especially hard here, because "compliments" and "praise" by definition involve unverified info, so it's really easy for the whole thing to devolve into a popularity contest, and you can only avoid this by discouraging it. OTOH it might still be possible to reward employees for praise of coworkers that involves some amount of verifiability. It's not that everything is going to be verified after-the-fact, but the possibility has to be real so that everyone's behavior is kept in line.
If you're not good a marketing a product, you should still spend 100% of your effort on making it great, and hire a marketing person to do the other part.
At that point, it's really your and your manager's (and so forth) responsibility to ensure your product or tool is in the right hands and helps people.
My manager was great at taking on some of the burdens and shielding me from above, while still giving me the flexibility and incentive to work with other teams and people to make sure I was the one everyone recognized for the work done, as opposed to the team or him.
When your head is down in an interesting, thorny problem, it is easy to forget how those other folks are affected by your work, and it's easy to lose appreciation for the fact that their head is filled with a completely different information set. So it can be very useful to spend 5% of your time on this.
Or heck, just try 2.5% - one hour out of a standard work week. Personal anecdote: I wrote up a little thing about why customers would pick one video encoder over another, and marketing just did backflips and started asking my manager if I could write more things.
Focusing on your own silo and blaming others for the team's failure results in dysfunction, not success. Instead, take ownership of your job and (shared) ownership of the other jobs that interact with it.
In either case, at some point you have to convince someone else that it's worth investing their time. External, this can be dollars (although is that really the best way?). Internally (and optimally), you still need to self-market your product to marketers.
Either way, it's better to spend at least a little time doing marketing. Boiled down from all the hype and jargon, marketing is highlighting the benefits to another person. If an IC is working on a project where they don't know the benefits, there is a larger issue.
You can't hire a marketing person for yourself. Marketing yourself and your work is important because things don't magically get discovered or recognized.
There are a lot of medium-small employers in lesser-known or unsexy domains that under normal circumstances struggle to compete with FAANG/similar to find people. How many are hiring right now I don't know, but it might be an option.
What if you're consistently doing good work but have zero visibility? Then years down the road, you notice a trend of people around you getting promotions/raises/bounses more often than you? The same people that slack off & lack integrity; to name a few. As a human being with emotions... can you honestly say you won't feel resentful in your moment of realization?
I am asking as someone who's been in that situation more times than I care to admit... I do good work for myself and for the sake of doing good work; I take pride in the work I do... but as most of it was never communicated, no one knew about it and just took it's results for granted; I was bypassed for raises, promotions, etc... Was it worth it? I can't give you a answer... it's a very conflicting place to be.
I think people have an obligation to share the work they do, especially if it's interesting or impactful. Because if you don't, then generally no one else will.
Granted my role is very crossfunctional, but I think it's pretty unusual to be consistently impactful working in your own silo. So boosting my collaborators gets me the visibility benefits, without feeling insincere, and contributes to a work culture that is collaborative and supportive.
For context, I lead an analytics team at a FAANG company.
I'm bad at communicating when I've worked on something challenging, so now I realize I should never give more effort than can be noticed. You may think that's cynical, but this is a business and I'm paid not on what I actually do but what the business perceives me of doing.
That can lead to having to ‘lie’ or act overly proud of work you know is essential but boring.
You do that by communicating. Where is lying and mind games involved?
It seems like most other people are talking about gaming metrics, not lying and playing games.
At my company, your rating should be evaluated against the standard according to HR policy. I have been given a low rating in the past simply because somebody else got a high rating. Some departments require that the highest rating be 'balanced' by giving someone a lower rating, even when they don't deserve it. I know this because I have friends in management who have confirmed this.
The year after this, I filled the role of a tech lead as an intermediate developer. I was a key part of an enterprise-wide upgrade and recieved a commendation from the leader of that initiative. I was up for the highest rating, but did not get it. Why? Somebody else on the team was also doing an awesome job and they didn't have an FDN from the prior year. Policy states that only the current year should be part of the rating. My manager even said they believed that I "...deserved a distinguished rating, but [they] couldn't get it". Not to mention, can you imagine giving two out of ten employees an FDN to balance out two distinguished?
I left that team for a new team. On this team I got an average rating, but 12% of my target bonus (we are a pay for performance shop). Why so low? Because I took parental leave and my point count wasn't as high as others'. HR policy forbids point comparisons and also forbids any negative impact from taking parental leave. This team also tried to state that my work as an Application Security Champion for the system was not to be counted as part of my job, but as a supplemental role. Policy stated that it should be considered part of my job. I filled this role for six teams across two departments and received very positive feedback from two individuals that I interacted within the security subdivision.
These are probably half of the major issues which impacted my monetary, promotion, or rating outcomes.
As for head games, they play too many to list. One very memorable one is how I was told by my manager that some people only have the potential to be an intermediate developer, but later being told that if I stay in that position too long they will try to get rid of me because if you stay in that position for too long it shows you don't have any potential.
Mine is ruined and this might have contributed a little. I'll never be more than an intermediate developer and I'm worried about being fired/laid off.
I’ve since moved on to different positions at different companies and am doing plenty fine. I’m even the senior member on a new team I’m joining now.
A few bad years or even many bad years don’t end your career :)
In this case I know the guy that got the high rating. As weird as it is to say, and even when the wound was fresh, I was/am happy for him and he deserved it. He's a nice guy and he had nothing to do with the rating I recieved. He's now a manager several levels up.
Do you mean this at your specific company? I felt the same way in my last company because there was definitely nowhere to go up, but I've since moved on and am in a more senior role.
I'm also just tired of the bullshit and and mind games that management plays. My current plan is to gamble in the stock market and 'retire' whenever I can't take it anymore or get fired. I would love to retire to run a small farm and/or work a retail job like Lowes.
This is also, I think, how you find a job that is very stable and secure - focusing first and foremost on something other than technology until they can't imagine hiring someone off the street to replace you who doesn't know the business.
I actually have a business administration minor and trade options and equities, so I have a better understanding of finance and the business than most people I work with in IT. I work for a large financial company and my previous team was amazed that I passed my CFA Foundations class without studying (it's not difficult like the CFA level 2 or anything).
Maybe I'll reconsider becoming a business person.
I don't have any financial licenses or experience. I have a minor in business admin, but that doesn't mean much on a resume. So hardcore financial jobs aren't really an option. A tech job in a financial field could be good though.
The problem I'm finding with tech jobs is that they want an expert in a given technology. I have experience in Neoxam and FileNet, which are not very common. I would have to take an entry level job, but I'm just able to support my family now (with the hope of one day being able to retire). I'm also finding it much more difficult to learn new stacks as I'm getting older.
Whether this works or not depends if you have any psychopathic coworkers, which isn't something you can really know very easily.
I also don't think the actions of others really define whether or not you are "intermediate," unless you're only talking about some corporate ladder bullshit.
I'm also becoming demoralized after being looked over or screwed over for about 4 years.
I loved giving a brown bag on Raspberry Pi project to my teammates. I know it's not a great work related topic, but installing and using linux and tips on securing it was at least tangentially related.
I have to say, I wish I made lots of money.
I wonder how this kind of thinking starts. Is there any rationale for this?
If a coworker is given an above average grade, it means I'm much less likely to get one.
But in practice it doesn't matter too much because managers tend to distribute grades depending on time since last promotion/significant raise, to be able to justify the next one.
The first iteration can work very well. But what about the next iterations? People will adapt to the process and change their behavior.
Under stacked ranking, if you are interviewing someone brilliant that can potentially be the strongest member on your team, is it in your best personal interest to hire that person?
The answer is: no. Because if you add high performance members to your team, with each iteration of stacked ranking not only it will be harder for you to be promoted, but you will be closer to being terminated.
So what ends up happening is that people hire the worst possible candidates, which defeats the purpose of stacked ranking. With stacked ranking, instead of iterating towards stronger people, you iterate towards mediocre, political people.
This is such an American story :-)
I don't think there's any other developed country where you can remain an individual contributor, a developer, and quadruple your income in 2 years. Heck, in most other developed countries the whole salary range for a profession is about 2x, from the lowliest junior developer to the highest senior developer. To make more you'd have to become a consultant, so basically start your own company, which is an entirely different kettle of fish.
My name checks out :)
Which is exactly what the employer wants.
It's also why they don't want people talking to each other about their salaries, which is a practice that needs to die.
I think that's not quite right. You have incentive to compliment those who you would rather be working with, which hopefully correlates pretty well with those who deserve compliment. Of course, this is weighed against your other incentives, some of which are probably more important.
This comment should not be taken as any meaningful endorsement of stack ranking.
The way this is achieved at my company is having no quantitative performance indicators and having your performance decided in a completely opaque process by leaders three levels above you in the organisation who you have never met.
As a consequence, we have all given up on engaging in the formal side of the performance review process because we know it is a waste of time. However, if you have a good line manager, you end up having a genuine conversation about what went well and what could be done better.
An odd situation, but infinitely preferable to counting up the number of fake "thank you" comments you receive (which just makes me vomit).
Of course, sales is easier to compare 1:1.
And I've always thought that hard targets would be more stressful than stack-ranking.
Having worked at many companies, I've observed how shockingly easy it is for a manager's assessment of their reports to be colored by "hearsay" whether good or bad.
I once had several members of another team who deeply disgreed with a product decision I'd made complain to my manager that I was being uncooperative, not a team player, etc. To avoid getting fired, I had to ask a bunch of members of various other teams to (honestly) tell my manager what a good job I was doing. Which worked -- according to him I'd really "turned things around" in the space of just a couple weeks (!). In the end it was 100% political, a bad manager who had no idea how to actually assess my work for what it was and so relied entirely on what he was "hearing", and I quit as soon as I could for a better job.
So yes, tell someone's manager when they're doing a great job. But it sucks that we have to rely on this stuff at all, rather than managers who can actually assess your work directly.
I've been in too many performance-review manager meetings where someone under Manager A is up for promotion, and Manager B steps in and says "my engineer had a bad interaction with your engineer" and that's enough to put the promotion at serious risk. Managers are happy enough to effectively kill a promotion with a clean conscience by saying "let's re-evaluate this one in mid-cycle reviews". Sure, set this engineer back 6 months, a year, a year+, no worries all good.
Maybe it helps people to think of their manager/work as being analogous to a startup product? You build an awesome product, but then spend zero budget on sales and marketing, and are then super-sad that you're not magically growing up and to the right.
Conversely somebody who readily gives credit to others might come off as high-integrity and trustworthy. Perhaps a person like that is an incredibly positive influence and valuable member of their team.
Each approach can succeed or fail depending on what your manager values. I wouldn’t say one is more likely to succeed than the other, but if you want to end up working for a boss that values integrity, then I’d suggest taking the integrity route.
Lost in this is just the work ethic of doing incremental non-glamorous work and managers and people around you _doing their job_ by recognizing it. Many corporate perf processes, peer bonuses, and so on simply smudge this over, and they indirectly or directly encourage _fame seeking behaviour_ which is in my opinion the most corrosive thing to a company's long term performance and bottom line.
But just last week I watched the hard work of a coworker get completely bowled over by another manager's "congrats on amazing work" email chain to someone else who used the work of my coworker without recognition.
It's hard to imagine a promo system that rewards hard work, where feedback comes from ones peers, and only promotes a fixed number of people where these kind of zero-sum issues don't appear.
SmallCorp you all work for the bottom line or company goes bust. That acts as a damper on empire builders who build for their own sake, though there is still that behavior.
BigCorp it's unlikely your contributions are going to impact much of that kind of thing, even if you're up in senior management. So you're there for your Career(tm) first, company $$ success second. And in fact that is directly promoted through Perf, etc.
So the aggregate behavior of individuals is not only to self-promote but to encourage the self-promotions of others, that's how we get ahead by the measures defined as "getting ahead" by the company: internal promotion, project glory, internal and external speaking engagements and publications about your project, etc.
So a 100 person "congrats" and "that's amazing!" email (or its equivalent on LinkedIn) or whatever is just reasonable professional behavior. You're not a jerk for promoting yourself, you're just doing what is expected of you. The professional behavior of the modest but "plug along and do my job and help out and not self-promote" person is the one that's suspect in this scenario. The company _wants_ you to self-promote.
I mean that on the macro and the micro level. Does it also lead to bad abstract ideas developing because nobody is willing to be critical, especially of broad approaches? I'm thinking along the lines of: "there are serious and fundamental flaws with the way you guys are approaching this."
Bad design does, though, because it's easy to get lost in the weeds of incremental small code reviews.
In any case teams are ideas... organizational structures, but shipped projects are real things. If the needs/desires of the organizational structure consistently take precedence over the actual needs involved in shipping product, the company is in trouble.
Multiple times in the last few years I've worked on projects that were in direct stated or unstated competition and in parallel development with other projects from different teams, but with the same feature set and target market but different technology stacks and organizational structures. I don't like this, at all.
For that, no internal culture is really needed: Google is in California, a state where the use of positive superlatives is mandatory for every single human interaction :)