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Ask HN: How do you deal with overblown self-assessment of team members?
10 points by DrinkWater 1097 days ago | 8 comments
The management wants to have a "profile" of every developer, listing all the skills and the level of expertise.

I tend to downgrade my skills because i compare myself to some really good developers and use their expertise/skills as a reference. And i am not the guy to list "RISC Assembly" just because i played around with it for 2 hours.

However, some of my team members wrote in their profile stuff like "JavaScript +++++" and "Unix ++++" (+ = basic knowledge, +++++ = professional level). Of course, this is very distorted, since they just scratch the surface of jQuery ($.ajax and other basic stuff; we are not talking about vanilla JS and its architectural features) and their Unix Skills consist of opening a terminal in Ubuntu Linux and doing "mkdir bla" and "rm -rf bla". The thing is: I dont want to complain to the management because it might look unprofessional, and i dont want act like a smart-ass within my team and tell these people to downgrade themselves.

Is there a sensitive way to approach this issue?

P.S. I have no clue how these profiles are going to be used by the management.

Sounds like the Dunning-Kruger effect hard at work. People get a good solid grasp of the basics and think they're experts because they don't know enough about the subject to realize that the basics aren't the whole domain.

Try exposing them to a few advanced topics in whatever they're overreaching on (like higher order functions for JS or named pipes in Unix). May not work, but you might get lucky and knock a few of them over the learning plateau and back on course to become real experts.


Create or find a simple 20 question multiple choice test for each skill. It will be a very flawed system, but at least it will mostly weed out the bullshit. This has the virtue of being pretty objective.

..or get a new job, this company might not be great :-)


Sounds suspiciously like my last company.

The advice I received from my boss was to be honest, but not compare myself to the top 1% of my peers outside the company. Compare yourself to your peers inside the company. If Bob is Javascript +5, then where are you in relation to Bob?

On the other hand, these sorts of things are often used to define your corporate "professional development goals" for the year. So, you probably want to leave yourself some room for growth.


But the problem is you think you are shit hot and they suck. They may think they are shit hot and think you suck.

I would probably just get on with my job and keep my mouth shut.


Honestly this sounds like the beginning of a terrible corporate culture for engineers Just put whatever you need to on that report to survive


I think it's time you go find yourself another place to work. People like these will only hinder your growth. Find some place that have people smarter than you so you can learn from them. Don't forget to mention how you feel about this in your exit interview. So they too can grow.


I have never, ever, ever found or observed such management-initiated profile collections to serve any useful -- or any observable -- purpose. [P.S. Let me qualify that. No useful or observable purpose with respect to their stated intent or my own assignments and workflow. Hidden "Management" purposes may be another matter.]

Given it's probably a required exercise, I'd probably fill it out in a manner favorable to myself without being outrageous. Then forget about it and get on with my life.

Except, I agree with some others here. It may be a sign that you want to at least keep an eye out for a better culture to move to.

Also, I guess, beware of this being the start for an outsourcing exercise. Such... "asset inventories" can be the beginning stage of a larger, "hidden" Management project.


Is this the same company Dilbert works in? In all seriousness. Don't lie. Focus on pushing your skills, so when the time comes to show them off you can do it. The impostors will end up looking like bums next to you.


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