Oct 10, 2013

day5 - beef jerky, culture, and why performance reviews are toxic

Reflections on beef jerky day - feeling like my colleague was a jerk

I'll just share the video I recorded at the end of the day. I basically felt like there was some gap in the engagement and accountability in the team.  You can tell I'm a bit pissed off in the video.

We are delusional as people

So almost immediately after recording, and feeling discouraged about lagging engagement, and thinking back on the day, I had a realization.  It's interesting the two of us incorrectly perceived our contribution and role in the team. Who was who's apprentice?

And we're just freaking two people! We are delusional.

Good intention to help people not be delusional
I can now better appreciate why organizations create measurements and performance reviews - so as to check members from becoming 'delusional.' For example, if my manager and I agree that I was a 4 out of 5, and have it on paper, then I can't come back and say 'but I delivered more revenues than he/she who also has a 4 rating!'

Performance reviews are used to avoid perception of unfairness.

But it's wrong
While I can now appreciate first-hand the organizational leadership's position in defaulting to performance reviews, I also believe that it is the wrong step to take.

What you really want are individuals to become more self-reflective, self-aware, and self-sufficient. You can't enlighten people by banging them on the head with 360 reviews. That only makes them less engaged and bitter and resentful. It is a sure sign of distrust at a deep level among the team members. Instead, focus on dialogue and communicate your grievances.

Instead, focus on dialogue and communicate your thoughts. Support each other and help the counter-party see the reality. Difficulty conversations aren't supposed to be done through mind-numbing written performance reviews using sanitized words. (Didn't you always love that guy who had no filter in his mouth and said whatever the hell came to his mind?)

Talk to each other. Know that hard is good.

Yet there's a tension
I can also appreciate the tension present here. It is the tension between having great people, and being able to scale growth. If you had to hand-pick and cultivate great people one by one, you might spend too much time recruiting for the team.

How are you resolving this tension in your organization?

Learning by doing

To see what this overall project is about, see the original 12appyDays entry.

Today was project 5 - a skeleton eCommerce site for beef jerkys.  On the previous day, we built a simple and simplistic site using google map api to show the path back to the car. And on the prior day (project 3 pickr), I wrote about the experience of how knowing what's hard is ... hard.

And I'm learning so much, because I am building. Lot more so than I could by thinking and reading. 

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