In the early days at Microsoft the review was a session of friendly feedback and nobody who felt he was doing well came out shocked to learn that his manager didn’t think so.

Later of course it became a reign of terror. The self-evaluation questions were straight out of Dilbert, “describe your customer centricity,” yeah I can put a three-digit number on that, you morons.

In 1990 we worked late because we loved our work and we loved how we were treated, protected from interruptions, stock options, free stuff.

In 2000 we worked late because we were terrified of the annual review, which pretty much required that a sizable percentage of us be fired.

In Windows Media DRM I had one coworker who did great work and lots of it, but he got a 2.0, which means he probably wouldn’t survive the next one, because he wasn’t “visible” enough; he didn’t self-promote. He sat in his office and worked. That didn’t matter.

There never were objective criteria for these damned things; a manager who didn’t like you for purely personal reasons could get you terminated and would.

American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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