Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Your Review, Your Numbers, Your Choices

How do you feel about your review this year? I dropped in Friday just so
that I could get my review and The Numbers.

So you get the review you
initially filled out with your assessment.  Now you have your boss'
comments and the you-said / he-said rating. And the rest is hand-waving
about the future and general confusion about just how you can be committed
to something while all the future of your group is going to hell in a
hand-basket as you reorganize and try to figure out what to ship and when
you'll be able to ship it. 

My commitments from June are now
ponderous reflections upon an optimistic era.

And then you get the
sheet with The Numbers.  Your level, responsibility, department,
rating, current pay, future pay, any bonus, and any stock awards. 
"Wow, that's small." I let slip out,
wondering if this damn blog had finally had a real-world impact on me and my

"No, that's pretty much
inline with average,"
my boss said, and reviewed how we're
inline with comparable tech companies and that 2% raises are about the
max-average (?) this year, along with some % bonus I forget (10%?). 
Later I got home and unloaded my gear and went through old review
numbers.  Even in my worst year when I was totally ignorant about the
review process I did way better than this year.

I guess we had a href="
htm">lean financial year.


Playing some XBox
later, the compensation subject came up and that the days of new Microsoft
millionaires are over. True, folks are a bit reactive right now. But now is
an inflection point: The Numbers average below href="
">cost-of-living increases, our future is in flux and not inspiring,
we're busy trying to save money by href="">cutting towels
and href="
43-8db4-dc2cb8f5241c">moving office supplies, and in the meantime we are
expected to excel at individual href="
.html">Process Excellence.  Beneath all of this, the passion is in
there somewhere, it just takes increasingly hard yolk-pulling work to let it

We're just too big to deftly manage our future and let the
individual contributor flourish.

But at a personal level, what does
that mean for you? Choices.

First of all: you're going to buckle
down doing what you're doing, forfeit what-could-have-been elsewhere, put in
200% effort, and work through it all and endeavor to change the system and
weather the storm. That path ahead is hard, no doubt about it, and full of
plenty dark-nights of the soul. Don't kid yourself. We can't maintain the
business as usual (I hope that the yawns to our pre-Longhorn-reset dog
and pony show during the recent financial-analysts meetings were heard all
the way to the top)
. Destructive changes, whether from-within or foisted
upon us, will happen. Ya!

Okay, you could decide to change groups
internally. Now's a great time for many reasons. Get that resume together
and updated and do some informationals. Perhaps there is a group that's a
perfect fit for you in which you can have a greater day-to-day impact making
fantastic software (or selling it, or marketing it, or (bless your
heart) supporting it). The thrill of that perfect match should keep
most anyone going.

Lastly, it's also a fantastic time to look for
other job opportunities in the area (or in an area of the world you've
always wanted to live)
.  Why not? It never hurts to ask just to
discover how desired you
are. Perhaps you're savvy and you realize that the ax is being sharpened in
the executive meeting rooms and groups are going to have to be cut left and
right One Day Soon. Get that September 15th bonus deposited and start
drafting that "Moving On" email. Just try writing your goodbye now
for the thrill of imagining what it would be like to start a grand new
adventure in a fast-moving environment.

The golden handcuffs were
removed from your wrists long, long ago. You own your career. It's choice

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