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 compensation.
"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 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 cost-of-living increases, our future is in flux and not inspiring, we're busy trying to save money by cutting towels and moving office supplies, and in the meantime we are expected to excel at individual Process Excellence. Beneath all of this, the passion is in there somewhere, it just takes increasingly hard yolk-pulling work to let it out.
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 time.