Performance Reviews 🏅
A first-principles approach to performance management + a practical workflow + wild ideas from successful companies.
In any company, you would be hard pressed to find any process that impacts people’s behavior more than performance reviews.
People may ignore the company’s mission, principles, the supposed culture, but never ignore how their performance is evaluated. For this reason, reviews have the power to shape culture more than anything else — by rewarding good behavior and correcting bad one.
Yet, there isn’t much consensus on how to have them.
Sure, we have plenty of examples, usually from big tech, but most other companies use their own recipes, which are sometimes similar, sometimes remarkably different.
Some companies don’t have reviews at all, some run committees, some run peer-based processes, and more.
So, today, like we often do on Refactoring, we will unpack this by reasoning from first principles. We will figure out the goals of performance reviews, list various approaches, and evaluate upsides and downsides.
Here is what we will cover:
🎯 Why we have reviews — let’s not take anything for granted.
🍱 What goes into a review — work summary, feedback, and goals.
🙋♂️ Who contributes to the review — the role of subjects, managers, and peers.
🤝 How to have the review — a practical, step-by-step process.
🔀 Alternative approaches — case studies from unconventional companies like Valve, Netflix, Morning Star, and more.
📚 Resources — templates, articles, and books to learn more.
Let’s dive in!