A couple of weeks ago, I was in a conference room with with three others going over my performance at work. I have done these 360 type reviews throughout my career. I have never liked handling my reviews in this format. The Wiki page on the 360 review points out a couple of issues with the process, but these aren’t even my issue with it. I can see why the HR groups at companies would use 360 reviews it seems to be the defacto system in most businesses and it’s easy to say “everyone else does it” and just use this method. Well if I had to rank that on a scale from 1-5 I am giving all HR departments that are using 360 reviews a 1 in your performance. You aren’t doing anything innovative and being successful you are just replaying old methods, at best you are the 3 (average) across the industry. I tell you the truth I don’t even read my reviews, I never have you put the piece of paper in front of me and as long as it isn’t saying I am signing my soul away to some deep dark underworld then I just press accept.
Speaking of average this is one of the subjects of my post. Not just my current management, but almost all of my past management I have been talked to about rating myself as a 3. Every time I go into my review I am ready to talk about how average I am. Being average Eric is all I have ever known, I don’t think I could be anything else but average Eric. That makes me happy I am not trying to be more than happy. I mean can you really be more than happy? I don’t think there is such a state. A week ago I ran across this article on the BBC website “How to be mediocre and be happy with yourself” and finally started to feel like I am on the right path in life. I love average me and it has taken me a long time to understand that it is ok to do that. I credit the working environment I am currently in and the events (wins and fails) in my life that have made me this happy.
Maybe it’s just me but I know if I am doing a crappy or a great job at work and I am pretty open with it I will tell you if I am unsure about something or if I think it is not going to pan out. Maybe others don’t know how they are doing and aren’t honest with themselves or lie to themselves and think they are doing great and need to be reviewed to bring them back down to earth. I see this as a leaders job where they know at almost any moment how the rest of the team is doing. It is the leaders that stay in touch with the people and understand their weaknesses and how to get the most out of those people. I know I know… this puts the work back on the leadership or HR folks that have been pushing the 360 methods for years. But I really think it is time to look at a way to scrap the 360 method and come up with something more innovative to reviewing and providing feedback to your staff.
Places like Bridgewater Associates seem to do this with process of transparency and open ongoing reviews of where each and every employee is strong and weak. I don’t think you can deny their success as a company so I guess you can say it works but the inner office bashing games don’t go away. So yes I think Bridgewater is a great company and meeting industry expectations but I don’t think their process is doing much for the employees that are their at a personal level. Maybe I am wrong and at the end of the day it is just all a formality to build a ton of documentation on us and keep feeding the machine. At the end of the day that is all it is about the company makes the money we get the paycheck and life goes on…. Pretty average if you ask me.
So the ball is back in your court HR stop being so average with the reviews make it part of the culture for leadership to be able to say who is exceeding their expectations and not on our peers. I love the people I work with and just feel like I am betraying them by speaking about them in another forum besides to their faces. I don’t like my words being tossed into a web form and then given to others possibly outside the context I intended it to be presented in. The 360 review is literally the he said she said of review processes.