Intel's 'Hard Knocks' Performance Reviews

Performance reviewMike Rogoway of the Oregonian writes today about the employee evaluation process at Intel, a Portland area employer of some 16,000 in the area alone. These evaluations, or Focals, drive reward and punishment at the area employer. Bonuses to probation, depending on your performance in recent months.

Rick Brumble, a former business analyst at Intel who lost his job last October in a companywide layoff, said the competitive nature of the reviews feels out of place to many employees who would prefer to be collaborating. The “brag sheets” employees compose each January to summarize their accomplishments are particularly off-putting, he said.

“You have to look better than some other person,” Brumble said. “You have to say, ‘I did this,’ and word it in such a way that it looks like you walk on water.”

Because Focal rates employees based on their comparative performance with one another, rather than their achievement against a fixed set of goals, Brumble said, he felt in the dark about exactly what was expected.

“They don’t tell you what the bar is you have to reach in order to do your job successfully,” he said.

Grumble, grumble.

Rogoway shares a few anonymous comments at the Silicon Forest blog, including

“Focal can work when it is used as a tool to help managers make sure they are doing effective performance management. I have seen it used well when the managers involved trust each other and are given enough freedom to do the right thing. When it becomes ‘manage by the numbers’ then things go south quickly.”

Hmm. I guess everyone thinks the grass is greener somewhere else.

I have to ask the obvious question here: Whose review is it anyway? With all the apparent mumbling and groaning, you would think that time spent at Intel had no impact on enhancing one’s personal brand. It strikes me as interesting that people would knowingly seek out a competitive employer and then get wound up that they are being measured against one another. Were you looking to land a job, or build a career (important point of view)?

Hard Knocks indeed, gang. This “comparison” isn’t just happening at Intel, it happens everywhere (ok, I’m sure you can find the exception, but can you realize your potential there?). The fundamental difference is that most employers don’t ensure you create your ‘brag sheets’ to record your performance each year.

Regardless of where you work, you should be composing your brag sheet every quarter, capturing your achievements and contributions on a regular basis. This is your career to manage, to plan, to measure.

This entry was posted in Career, Kumquat, Performance, Review. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Intel's 'Hard Knocks' Performance Reviews

  1. I am NOT a fan of the “stack and rank” system – it pits employees against one another (often in environments that supposedly tout a “teamwork philosophy”).
    It’s used more to enforce salary bands and reduce legal risk and overall cost to the company, and has little to do with the professional development and growth of employees.

    I’ve seen the forced ranking system essentially punish a great manager for recruiting and developing a high performing team because he/she is still forced to rank someone at the bottom despite everyone hitting or exceeding objectives. Conversely, a mediocre performer can be ranked at the top on an low performing team and receive the same compensation “reward” as a truly stellar employee in a different group.

    Trying to apply a mathematical bell curve equation to create “equity” in fact often backfires and everyone seems to lose.

  2. Pingback: Recruit Mediocre or Learn to Reward Performance | More than a living

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