High-tech compensation packages make headlines, especially when a new firm hires a highly visible and much-needed free-agent. However, many techies are often no better off regarding raises and other rewards than their old-era counterparts.
As in the old era, many technical professionals want to be rewarded with more than money. They also want a compatible and creative work environment, exposure to cutting-edge technology, and new challenges. Unfortunately, some work in an information vacuum. They assume that some superior is paying attention to their progress. In the old era, that may have been true. Someone usually monitored their progress with some sort of performance evaluation process. Today, employees exercise greater freedom of choice, but they must also exercise responsibility for their own career as well.
The traditional goal of performance was to:
Establish agreement between the company (usually represented by the supervisor) and the employee regarding what the employee was expected to accomplish and how well he or she accomplished those goals.
Establish a permanent record that some sort of evaluation took place, and record the employee's overall rating.
Provide a documented base for merit salary increases.
Assure that a series of one-on-one meetings were held between the employee and the supervisor, during which they agreed about what the employee should accomplish and how well he or she was faring.
Traditional evaluation problems. Micro-managing did not provide a suitable environment for conducting viable performance evaluation. Demands placed upon supervisors made it difficult for them to inform their subordinates about their work quantity and quality. In an effort to change this situation, many firms established formal policies requiring annual evaluations.
Many supervisors did not understand the purpose of performance evaluation, and some were reluctant to conduct them. Evaluations often resulted in arguments when the purpose was to raise performance issues and address them fairly.
Making matters worse, sometimes the review process began before employees were consulted. When the annual budget was approved, management often ranked each employee into one of various salary levels. Employee reviews were then molded to fit into the approved financial plan.
Some sort of process to accomplish the overall goal of performance evaluation is still valid. Employees want to be rewarded for their accomplishments. Good two-way communications, without micro managing, could certainly help.
Q: Do you have any suggestions about how to plan
A: I recently talked with the chairperson of Bryant College's management department. We talked about the difficulties of recruiting and agreed that most employee acquisitions do not follow the traditional path that begins in the human resource management department.
Most productive acquisitions are made through network contacts. These networks consist of anyone the employee or the employer knows or meets, who might help them achieve their goals.
To have successful careers, we must decide what we really want to do, define what is success for us, prepare a plan and set about doing it.
Brainstorming can help us do this. It works best when two or more enter into this activity, but here are a few ideas to jump-start the process.
Who can you include in your network? Begin by contacting colleagues, classmates, or friends. Consider approaching people who publish in your field (the more influential the better), or even alumni whom you have never met but who work where you would like to work.
Perhaps you could broaden your field of interest or concentration. Try to "think out of the box." I began my career as an electrical engineer and ended up in project management, eventually teaching and consulting.
Be alert to opportunities. When you think about your goals, you should list both your strengths and weaknesses, both short and long term. Then work out a strategy and a plan to deal with them.
Make a list of activities, both short and long term, that you must do to accomplish your career goals. Divide them into doable tasks, schedule them, and try to complete them on a regular basis. Good luck.