Do we really have to do year-end reviews?

A plea to ban the word
Stephen Baker

Here's something independent bloggers can blithefully ignore: End of the year reviews. I'm wrestling with mine now, struggling with an HR program that insists that my goals be "aligned" with my colleagues who provide financial services and publish textbooks. How about we ban the word "align" for the next year? (OK, we'll let auto mechanics keep using it, since they were aligning long before corporate coaches picked it up.)

In an ideal world, employees would scan each other's goals to find partners for projects, or sources for information. But at most companies, I'm betting, this exercise is done mostly to get a decent year-end review and, if possible, a raise.

I scanned the blogs to find experiences at other companies. And wouldn't you know, I came across a post about Google. According to Ron at Xooglers, an ex-Google employee blog, the company used to share a lot more information back before it had to worry about the SEC:

Having all the information about the state of your employer’s health at your fingertips gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Not only can you be reassured about the company’s growth trajectory, you can actually see the results of your efforts as increased traffic, improved clickthrough rates or leaps in revenue. Or not. Your failures are also visible to everyone in the company, which provides an even greater motivator to continuously improve performance in the areas for which you are responsible.

Google eventually clamped down on who had access the complete state of the business; ostensibly because such information needed to be restricted unless everyone was going to be registered as an insider and restricted from freely buying and selling the company’s stock. The loss of access to the raw data and the purging of alias photos on MOMA [Google's Intranet] each marked shifts in the culture as Google became a multinational, multi-billion dollar business.

At the time I left, I could still find most of the information I needed on MOMA, but occasionally I’d hit a password protected page and be reminded that the company had officially relocated from small town Kansas to the emerald lights of Oz. And while it had been a fantastic journey, I was surprised to discover that not everything looks better bathed in green.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.