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Employee Performance Review
8

Employee Performance Review

Employee Performance Review

(OP)
I work for a large engineering company and we recently had our annual performance review. I overheard two of the lead engineers talking about a "bell curve" imposed by corporate. Apparently corporate adjusted the performance ratings that the leads engineers gave to their subordinates, to fit some sort of company-wide curve. I don't have all the facts but I do know that our raises are somehow correlated with our performance ratings. I confronted my lead about this and he admitted that my final performance raiting was lower than what he had initially given me. He had to go back and change some of the scores to make my overall rating come out to the corporate-imposed rating.

Should I be upset? Is this normal practice for large companies? I've talked about it with other guys here and they don't seem to be upset.

RE: Employee Performance Review

Should you be upset, probably, should you be surprised, no.

This is not uncommon in companies of all kinds of sizes.

No matter how well you try and structure it, these kind of things end up being a popularity contest most of the time.  If your manager likes you he'll give you better ratings and fight to keep those ratings. If his manager likes him & so on up the chain then he's more likely to be able to get to keep those good ratings.  Add in that HR/senior management have read the latest salary surveys and think pay should conform to the standard distribution/not be above mean for any classification etc. and there you go.

My last boss and current boss have been fairly open about this with me.  I know for a fact at least one of my reviews got knocked down to 'satisfactory' from 'exceeds requirements' or something like that because my boss's boss told him to do it because too many people had too high a rating or something.  

I also know I've received low pay raises on at least one occasion not because I wasn't performing but because there was a mix up in the admin when someone else in the department converted from temp to perm and they got a lower rate of pay, so almost all the pay raise money for the department subsequent year went to him.  This despite him having been a cantankerous pita all year because he was disgruntled while I'd been fricking awesomewinky smile.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Employee Performance Review

Take a step back and look at these things from outside. Performance reviews, bonuses, pay raises, etc. are just gimmicks designed to protect the "employer" against any accusations of being unfair or discriminatory. They are not designed to "reward" performances, regardless of how they are presented.

I would look at the net income plus benefits you take home at the end of the year and total benefits, however they are accounted for. If you believe you deserve better, asking for raises at current job is the least effective, not withstanding exceptions. Finding another job with higher pay and benefit package is a much better option, not only for monetary reasons but also for expanding your network and experience diversity.
 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: Employee Performance Review

3
Large companies tell their customers that they hire only the very best engineers, chosen by rigorous screening before, during, and after engineering school.

Then they adjust the engineers' compensation to fit a normal distribution, as if the engineers were chosen at random from the general population.

... as apparently their managers and HR weasels are.

 

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Employee Performance Review

Yeah, our former over lords (my division's just been sold to new ones) had some slogan about "make 'corporation' a great place to work attracting the best talent" or something like that.

Then they also introduced a not so hush hush policy that no one was to be paid above the median rate for their job classification based on some industry survey.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Employee Performance Review

(OP)
rbulsara,

It's not really that I am not looking to be rewarded for my performance. That's not my gripe. I always work hard regardless because respect from my peers is more important than recognition from some corporate suit.

What bothers me is that it appears that the hard workers are subsidizing the slackers. If my performance rating was chopped down, I could be getting the same rating as some guy who hides in his cubicle all year.

I feel like I am looking at this objectively. I would think that they would want to appear as though there are incentives for working hard, not just keeping a seat warm. If workers find out that everyone gets the same carrot, regardless of performance, then why chase the carrot?   

RE: Employee Performance Review

As Ken said, not surprising... I've fallen victim to it a few times in the past.  I don't like being told I'm performing admirably only to be "thanked" with a raise that doesn't even cover the cost of living increase...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Employee Performance Review

"What bothers me is that it appears that the hard workers are subsidizing the slackers. If my performance rating was chopped down, I could be getting the same rating as some guy who hides in his cubicle all year."

One way or another, this happens to greater or lesser extent at most companies.  Probably the only way to be sure you aren't subsidizing slackers is set up on your own.

While it's good to have an idea of the 'going rate', too closely comparing your self to your colleagues (assumed) pay etc. may just make you miserable.

Either you think you're making enough, or you think you aren't.  In which case finding another position is typically your best bet.

They do want to appear like hard work is rewarded, just not enough to actually prioritize rewarding hard work over complying with 'industry norms', rewarding friends/buddies/brown nosers...

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Employee Performance Review

bones:
Kenat essentially said it. If you are happy with what you are getting, you should be happy and not worry about others.

What you are observing is common. However, since you are not paying your co-workers, you have no right to say what they are getting paid is appropriate or not. You can only negotiate your salary/rewards, not others'. So either get over it or find another job, although do not expect much different environment or start your own firm.

And yes, the name of the game always is to maximize your gain, while minimizing your efforts. Perhaps, your colleagues are better at negotiations.  At the same token, there are employers, who try to pay as little as they can get away with. The world is not fair all the time. As Kenat says, hard work, productivity or tangible items are not the only factors that decide what one is getting paid.

And than there are people, as you said will take "respect" in lieu of money, so all should even out in the end.  

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: Employee Performance Review

I used to work for a firm that rated each employee in each job category on an anual basis.  The managers (I was one of them) sat in a conference room and discussed each employee and assigned a number ranking from 1 to 10 on a bunch of different categories.

At the end of the day, we had ranked every employee as above average to great.  This was not realistic.  Obviuosly, we had empoyees that were deserving of the rank, but out of kindness or whatever did not want to say that somebody was performing poorly.

The HR department was actually using this as a tool to educate the managers and to have us start holding people to a higher standard.  It was also used as tool to focus training etc to help improve performance.  

Your situation sounds similiar.  This may force your manager to work with you on areas were you could improve your performance.   

RE: Employee Performance Review

(OP)
Thanks guys for your opinions. This is my second year as an engineer and in the corporate world, and I guess I'm still getting used to the BS.  

RE: Employee Performance Review

Ah, so you're still all bright & shiny then, and haven't been 'polished' to a rough finish like those of us that have been around even just a little longer.

Maybe now you start to empathize with why some crusty old engineers are the way they are.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Employee Performance Review

No one is born a cynic.

It takes decades of conditioning.

 

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Employee Performance Review

Bones,
"If workers find out that everyone gets the same carrot, regardless of performance, then why chase the carrot?"

Sounds like you have hit the realization of the true end game of socialism.   

RE: Employee Performance Review

Agree with Kenat....this is not unusual...common corporate bull$hi+.  Get used to it or get out.

RE: Employee Performance Review

An interesting study is that if you offer someone $100 on the condition that someone else gets $100, or you offer them $200 and the other person gets $500, most people prefer the first option.

This is illogical, and a cause of great concern to economists, since any rational consumer would prefer the second option.

The lesson I draw from this is to think about what YOU get from your job, let everyone else worry about what they get.

 

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Employee Performance Review

(OP)
Thanks everyone for the spot on advice. However, MikeHalloran has two stars and I'm thinking we should take them back and divide them equally amongst ourselves...

RE: Employee Performance Review

Should you maybe dish out the stars based on a bell curve related to performance in this thread instead?

RE: Employee Performance Review

One of the oddities of the forum software is that if any message in a discussion gets a star, all other messages from the same author in the same discussion get the same star, so you can't tell which message triggered the accolade.  

 

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Employee Performance Review

(OP)
I found out today that the rating formula was manipulated to give lower scores.

You are rated in various categories on a scale of 0 to 5, 5 being the strongest performance. I found out today that the way they forced the managers to lower our overall scores was to give us scores on a scale of 0 to 4 in some categories. However, it was still treated as if it was out of 5.

For example, 3 out of 5 is called "satisfactory performance". On the questions that were 0 to 4, a score of 2 was considered "satisfactory performance". But when they compute the total average rating, each category was treated as if it was out of 5 points.

My coworker was rated as "satisfactory" in each of his categories and his total rating averaged out to a "below average performance" rating. He is not a happy camper.

If this is a way to justify low or no raises, why not just slide the threshold for raises instead of making everyone look like their performance dipped this year?  

RE: Employee Performance Review

I have been working for almost 40 years - yes I am an old fart... and have been through dozens of these things - on both sides and and sometimes at the same time.  I rated my guys/gals and then my boss rated me.

I HAVE NEVER FOUND ANY ONE METHOD TO BE SATISFACTORY.  Someone is always slighted or feel inferior OR gets a big head out of it.  AND IT TAKES TOO MUCH DAMN TIME.

Best bet - do your best and the pendulem will swing again.

RE: Employee Performance Review

Most of us have been there at one time or another.  Had Management By Objectives at one place.  Each year you reviewed last years objectives and then were given next years.  You were graded 0 to 5 on how well you handled last years objectives.  I think 3 was "Meets Expectations".  After a couple of years we found that we were all consistantly 3 or lower.

Seems that if you ever exceeded expectations you'd never do it again as their expectations had been elevated.

gjc
 

RE: Employee Performance Review

(OP)
Mathematically, I "exceeded expectations" in all categories but my overall rating was equivalent to "satisfactory". So even if I scored 5 out of 5 and 4 out of 4 on everything, it's impossible to get a overall score of 5 out of 5. That's just plain cheating no matter which way you look at it.

I hear what everybody's saying about just do your best and ignore the rest, but my company is in the nuclear industry and in my opinion should not be cavalier about disgruntling its employees.  

RE: Employee Performance Review

Also there will be a time that with right experience you will be able to choose as to who you work for and for how much. Just work on enhancing your experience and marketability. There is no point fighting your employers, but you can if you choose to.

Best and least expensive way to let them know that you are not happy is to leave them.  

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: Employee Performance Review

Quote (Mike Halloran):

An interesting study is that if you offer someone $100 on the condition that someone else gets $100, or you offer them $200 and the other person gets $500, most people prefer the first option.
If it was only a single person that was getting the $500, that would be fine.  However, if a number of people were getting that $500 compared to my $200, my purchasing power is decreased... in essence, it would be the same as if you had left everyone else alone and taken a few hundred out of my pocket.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Employee Performance Review

The Canadian military did something like this some years ago.

They did a review on the ratings and found that seldom was a score lower than a 7 out of 10 ever given (above average was the lowest rating routinely given out)

They statistically distributed the number of 10's 9's etc. that were allowed as well as the number of 1's and 2's that were forced to be given out.

Works to level the playing field where there are large numbers of people at the same organizational level and under the same manager but was difficult to implement with the trades and at bases where there were only few people in any occupational category.

They however did not use the person's numerical rating as the only input into the promotional process. The narratives were also examined as was the potential for more senior positions.

However at the end of the day it was still an attempt to make precise and impersonal the imprecise and highly personal process of rating and evaluating people.
 

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

RE: Employee Performance Review

A young teenage girl was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat but her father was a rather staunch Republican.

One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to taxes and welfare programs. He stopped her and asked her how she was doing in school.

She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA but it was really tough. She had to study all the time, never had time to go out and party. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all her time studying.

He asked, "How is your friend Mary." She replied that Mary was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA, never studied, but was very popular on campus, went to all the parties all the time. Why she often didn't show up for classes because she was hung over.

Dad then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and ask why she couldn't take 1.0 off her 4.0 and give it to her friend who only had a 2.0. That way they would both have a 3.0 GPA.

The daughter angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair, I worked really hard for mine and Mary has done nothing".

The father slowly smiled and said, "Welcome to the Republican Party".

 

"Wildfires are dangerous, hard to control, and economically catastrophic."

Ben Loosli

RE: Employee Performance Review

What if you're not lucky enough to be born into a family that can afford to send you to college?

RE: Employee Performance Review

(OP)
Welcome to the Democratic party

RE: Employee Performance Review

I'm still in shock finding out that "bonus" is not two words.

RE: Employee Performance Review

Welcome to the multiple personalities of a corporate structure!

RE: Employee Performance Review

Here's the sad part - now that you've experienced this, you're upset.   In a few years when you are now a manager and have "converted", you'll likely do the same thing and not think twice.

 

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