Careers Special Report 2016

IT careers: How to get a fair performance review

You’re killing it at work, but does anyone notice? A large percentage of IT professionals say the answer is no.

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Ian Raloff still remembers the sting of bad timing that sabotaged one of his performance reviews earlier in his career, when he held a job at a telecom company.

As the annual performance review period neared, a problem cropped up on a new type of server that nobody was trained on. Raloff, then a systems administrator, was assigned to solve the problem. "Something weird happened, and it took me a while to fix it," he recalls. "That [snafu] was in the mind of the assessor," who was also part of the new IT management team. "I got a bad assessment and was ranked out of a bonus in my department."

It was little consolation when, shortly after the review, he was recognized individually three times at an all-IT meeting with other department leaders for his contributions to successful projects throughout the year.

"That [incident is] partially what led me to leaving the company," Raloff recalls. He had been doing a good job all year but, just as new management came on board, "things didn't work right on something I was in charge of and I looked bad."

Raloff's experience apparently isn't unique: IT workers are expressing a good deal of frustration about the way their work is recognized and rewarded. In a September 2015 Computerworld survey of 244 IT professionals, 44% of the respondents said they aren't being fairly or accurately assessed under the current review process at their companies. Some are unhappy because their employers have no performance assessment at all, others are frustrated with perceived biases in their reviews, and still others take issue with the method of assessment their employers use.

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