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MicroEval (YC S12) Aims To Take The Pain Out Of Performance Reviews (techcrunch.com)
55 points by ernestipark on Aug 16, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments



At MSFT my 1:1 with my manager is pretty much this. If there's any immediate good/bad things that he needs to share with me, that's the venue we do it in. It's one of the reasons why I really appreciate working for him (I had previous managers that didn't help me at all and I was lost in the weeds).

It's not for everyone; but I personally really appreciated timely feedback on what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong.

For the last few annual reviews it's been pretty hands off from my side of things - anything that is brought up about great things I did or things I struggle with we've talked about it already numerous times over the year. If you're surprised in your annual review you're doing something wrong.


Agree 100% Splines. We've found that people are surprised way too often in their performance reviews (which is actually how this company came about). 1:1s and face to face interaction is incredibly valuable and we don't seek to replace or uproot that in any way. However, another important component is keeping a record of progress so that the annual review is based on something factual or at least written (especially when the review is the basis for promotion/termination/bonuses etc). In addition, we've seen that MicroEval can be a good tool that facilitates and begins conversations about performance and growth.


I'm all for improving performance in the workplace. Many businesses desperately need it. However I feel like this product is striving to be a faster horse instead of tackling the underlying issue. Namely that performance reviews of any type can be gamed. Doesn't matter if they're every six months or every ten minutes.

I think performance reviews can be eliminated entirely. VPs that are in charge of products could be evaluated on how much revenue their product brings in. VPs could have the power to fire anyone working under them. Same with the managers working under the VPs.

The idea is to motivate employees to achieve one thing: bringing in more revenue (which is the goal of all for-profit companies anyways). There's no need to slice and dice the "performance" into pieces. Just empower people and measure revenue.


Thanks for the feedback spaghetti. To some extent, and for some positions, hard metrics such as revenue are definitely a very strong indicator of performance. However, this approach neglects the fact that businesses and types of employees are extremely nuanced.

Often times it is very difficult for an employee to identify the reasons why they are not performing up to expectations (this even applies to the revenue model).

In our research, we have also found that a culture driven only by numbers and money typically produce unhappy employees and decreased morale. Cultures that are driven on improvement and achievement through performance tend to produce happier employees that are excited to work for a what is likely unique company.

Ultimately, we created MicroEval to increase the conversations happening in the work place. And we want to provide the participants of those conversations concrete things to talk about. Having identified the nuances of one's performance gives them a clearer target for improvement.


I think youre on the right track - Ive worked on an eval application in the past and your research about numbers / metrics is spot on. Try to stay away from quantifying performance and focus on helping managers / employees capture achievements / shortcomings. Give employees an opportunity to demarcate the achievements / shortcomings they jotted over the year before the final eval.


I'd be interested to take a look at the research you've done. Either way your mission/goals are admirable and I wish you good luck!


This article takes the perspective that the purpose of performance reviews is to provide feedback to employees. It was my understanding that the purpose of performance reviews was to provide evidence to the government that you had reason to fire the person. Attacking the first idea won't bear much fruit if what people want is the second.

This is a (slightly) different area, but during my year as a teacher, my much more experienced coworker, who came from the New Jersey system, couldn't emphasize enough that anytime a "problem" student committed any infraction, no matter how minor, he wanted us to write it down. He was quite explicit that this documentation should be based on our view of the student, not the conduct, and that the purpose was that, should a parent complain about actions we were taking against their child, we wanted to have a huge file of infractions to show off.

(Clarification of "based on the student, not the conduct" -- otherwise good student commits an infraction that might merit discipline ("She punched through the girls' bathroom window"). We don't care. Awful student commits a minor infraction ("Talking in class"). We write it down.)


The legal aspect of performance reviews is definitely one not to overlook. We believe having record of performance and reviews is important. However, I think you would probably see that in companies where the evaluations are solely intended as a legal tool, that both employees and management/HR probably hate them. An incredible amount of value is waiting to be tapped when performance reviews are done right.


In the US we have at will employment, so using performance reviews primarily for evidence to fire people is not going to something that is common.


Nominal at-will employment might not provide all the protection you would expect. For example, though the employer may end an at-will contract for "any" reason, certain reasons are legally prohibited.

Further, you might want to read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aaron-greenspan/why-i-sued-goo... for an example of court thinking:

'In fact, clause 6 of the AdSense for Content Terms and Conditions does not allow Google to terminate accounts for "no" reason--only "any" reason. Much to my amusement, the judge interrupted her to make a point that sounded familiar.

"But you couldn't terminate my account because of the color of my eyes, could you? I have brown eyes. You couldn't terminate my account because of that."

Ms. Milani reiterated her previous arguments, but the judge didn't buy them.'

Personally, I would argue that "the guy has brown eyes" is sufficient "any" reason, but I appear to be losing the popular battle.


You're correct. My only point is that it is not enough of an issue here in the US that accumulating evidence to fire somebody is not a primary reason to institute performance reviews company-wide (in general).


This was an idea I was toying with for a while, and even started working on as a side project, so while I'm kind of bummed these guys have beaten me to the punch (and it looks like they did a nice job doing it), in a way it's sort of nice to see that other teams out there concur with my assessment that the current state of performance reviews is nothing short of awful.

I think the real question for something like this is: Can you convince management that its a big enough problem?

Ask any rank and file employee at a mid size company and they will tell you that evaluations are miserable, and borderline useless. When I mentioned some ideas for improving evaluations to my manager at my current job, the feedback I got was basically that the current system "wasn't great", (and basically everyone agreed), but it wasn't bad enough to justify the pain of switching to something else.

Convince the decision makers that bad evaluations are enough of a problem to justify switching, and then make it easy to do so, and reviews could actually (gasp!) become useful again.


Thanks for the validation kadabra9. This is absolutely a problem we are aware of and in our experience, management does recognize that there is an issue. However, what it may come down to is offering a product that is so clearly better than the current methodology and solutions that it becomes a no brainer to switch. This is what we'll be continuing to work towards. Would love to hear more of your thoughts if you'd like to shoot me an email.


I'm torn by the screenshot; do the buzzwords in the sample make this more or less appealing to your customers?

If there is no measurable difference, can you do the world a service and reduce the buzzword usage?

When I'm faced with a question like "Did this individual contribute to collaborative innovation and excellence in a dynamic group setting?" I tend to throw-up in my mouth a little and stop giving honest answers and start thinking about which answer will most benefit me...


This is a great team and I'm excited for what they will do. Everyone hates performance reviews!


$10/employee/m - seems expensive for a form tool that collects minimum data


Is Techcrunch connected to/or sponsored by YC by any chance? I'm not accusing, I'm questioning out of real curiosity...I see many many YC-related posts on Techcrunch..hence the curiosity.


I guess there's a void in the market somewhere after the Rypple acquisition by Salesforce?


Link to site: http://microeval.com




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