Friday, June 11, 2004
The opportunities for professional development are somewhat slim in my neck of the woods, as most clients are bloody reluctant to deploy anything other than the most proven technologies and prcesses, and you wouldn't be doing this stuff for them unless you were already a Subject Matter Expert (a most excellent weasel term which we shall examine in a forthcoming lexicon). You need to score points on your assessment by being innovative, something that risk managers are going to look very critically at on this sort of gig. To pastiche paraphrase Melville and Heller, "Call me Yossarian...."
The scoring system for these performance assessments is supposed to be a fully objective method of rating someone against their peers, which works great for a small heterogeneous population, but if you're comparing for example a J2EE developer against a firewall guru in a large group, the criteria gets pretty subjective quickly. Every performance assessment meeting I've ever been in has had various senior people championing their favorites, quickly turning the affair into something where the person with the loudest voice gets their pets the optimal score. The HR types of course contribute to this, demanding that there be a fixed distribution of people in each band (with of course the largest band getting ungotz, as we used to say in Bensonhurst). Publicly they pay lip service to the fairness of the process, but the HR types know darned well that their only purpose is to provide an illusion of control over your career destiny. We used to dread getting e-mails from a send-only box called "Focusing On Your Future", which was a great way of saying BOHICA.
Needless to say, compensation was nominally tied to one's overall rating, which was an integer, and one's overall score (a real number). The unfair part of this is that despite putting in thousands of man-hours to get these assessments done and evaluated, there have been no positive compensation adjustments for three years. The funny thing about this is that so much money and effort is spent on this cost center which
* Takes valuable time away from clients
* Forces people to write their own assessments using loaded questions that give them ample opportunity to hang themselves
* Serves no purpose other than a full-employment act for HR professionals
Supposedly Jack Welch championed this method of performance assessment as a method of up-or-out. I hope he gets prostate trouble.