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FAQ

How effective are self-evaluations for improving employee efficiency?
It really depends on managers• willingness to make the most out of it, and the emphasis put on performance reviews when it comes to company culture.One main issue when it comes to self-evaluation is employees lack of willingness to fill in the report, mostly due to onboarding difficulties. I think this case study is a great example of increase in efficiency due to successful onboarding.Here’s a nice article about the importance of self-evaluation: The Importance of Self Evaluation
What do you think of the corporate annual performance review process?
Most employees believe that their annual performance review is a tool whose purpose is to communicate (their immediate supervisor's perception of) their actual near-past performance in order to help them know what to improve upon, so they can become a better employee in the future (help the company) and maximize their salary increases and promotion opportunities (help themselves).In reality, the annual performance review is an accurate assessment of performance only if you’re receiving a “failing” grade. If you’re receiving a “passing” grade, it's purpose is to modulate your expectations about the near-future salary increase that management has already decided upon, based on (a) their (real) evaluation of your work performance (that you will never see), (b) the demand for your skills in the marketplace, and (c) your likely mobility (how easy it is for you to pick up and go anywhere for work). i.e., They try to pay you in praise or excuses (as a substitute for money) as much as possible.Companies have many reasons -- mostly financial, some legal -- not to give you an honest & complete appraisal of your skills & performance. Don't be discouraged (more on this later).Ask the average worker to draw a graph of how performance review grades track actual work performances and they will produce something like . . . .The alert reader notices that this looks like a linear, quasi-analog mapping of one variable onto another. And, since -- as you will learn from experience, if you didn’t already learn in school -- very, very few things in the real world are linear, you should be deeply suspicious of this graph.The first change that's needed stems from the recognition that real-world organizations use a finite number of grades to assess their employees, so a more realistic graph resembles the transfer function of an analog-to-digital converter . . . .For purposes of illustrating this quantization effect on the Y-axis, we’ll use the grading scheme of a large defense contractor we once worked for . . . .What else looks unusual about the grade vs. performance graph just shown? Those transitions between grades look too perfect, and since the real world is far from perfect, we need to add uncertainty/noise/jitter to the transition steps as shown . . . .Does this now represent a "real world performance review"? Not even close. This is due to three sad truths:Most managers in the corporate world aren’t skilled enough to accurately assess an individual’s performance, let alone do so for large numbers of their subordinates.It is not cost-effective to the organization to put that much effort into doing so even if managers had the skill. Statistical evaluation of large groups works just as well while consuming less time & money from management's overhead. “But that's not fair. I should be treated like an individual!” Wake up and smell the cappuccino: we are all binned into categories within categories based on various criteria, some of which seem important and some of which seem superficial. "Profiling" and "stereotyping" may be verbally demonized in academia & mass media, but the existence of Google, Facebook, and a $90B/year advertising industry is all predicated on their use, because they work (not so much in predicting the behavior of specific individuals, but in predicting the behavior of large groups). You lie somewhere on a myriad of statistical distributions. The people who manipulate us know this and use it.Performance reviews are about minimizing salary increases, not improving the employee (that's the employee's responsibility).Management’s first job in any performance review process is to bin employees into one of two coarse categories:The Rid Themselves Of employees will all get the I (failing) grade. They are being encouraged to remove themselves from the payroll without the company having to fire them or lay them off, both of which carry risks of legal action (wrongful termination lawsuits), bad press, and harm to the morale of remaining employees. “This (low grade on your performance review) is a warning shot across your bow. Get lost. Leave this company (to protect your dignity or employment record), or find a new job within it (working for managers who are more forgiving), before we have to show you the door.”The situation is more complicated for the Retain employee. Here, the company seeks to assign the optimum F/E/M (passing) grade that will encourage this employee toavoid looking for employment elsewhereyet (also) accept the smallest possible salary increasewhile (possibly) also avoid seeking promotions (another kind of salary increase)Here are some of the input variables that factor into which F/E/M performance grade will be assigned to each of the Retain employees:The employee’s Actual Performance (however imperfectly management measures that). i.e., what we naively thought the performance review was ALL aboutHow much industry Demand there is for this employee’s skills.How much Potential this employee appears to have. Generally only applies to those with less than 5 to 10 years of work experience. After that incubation period, most managers (correctly) believe that you've settled into the 'final product' of who you were going to become. Not that you can't learn anything new, but that such growth will be small and very non-revolutionary: Your fundamental personality, intelligence, ambition, capacity to work quickly and accurately, ability to sweep away the trivial and focus on the crucial, etc., etc., are very unlikely to change. i.e., A 29-year-old Wally Cox is never going to become a 31-year-old Steve Jobs. Not in the space of two years. Not if he lives to 100.Age. Older employees are perceived as being less train-able, less adapt-able, more set in their ways.Where this employee appears to sit on the Confidence Spectrum (1 = riddled with self-doubt, 10 = arrogance).Are there signs that this employee has Dropped Anchor In This Company? The longer you’ve been with your current employer, the more your Sell-Yourself-In-An-Interview muscles have atrophied, and the less confident you will be that you can jump ship to a new company. Most worker bees have no awareness of this phenomena until they're too old to do anything about it. This is why it's important to move to a new company every 4-7 years, even if you're "happy" at your current company.Are there signs that this employee has Dropped Anchor In The Local Community? How locked into the local job market is he? The more self-restricted your employment options are (“I will not / cannot move outside a ___ mile radius from my current residence”), the more your current employer has you over a barrel. . . . . Mortgages? . . . . Spouse? Ex-spouses pulling alimony from your monthly nut? . . . . Kids? Number? Ages? Private ($$$) or Public K-12 or university? Any remotely billeted (with ex-spouses), that must be visited/hosted periodically? . . . . Expensive Hobbies? i.e., boats, mistresses, gambling . . . . Endemic Hobbies? i.e., surfers don’t leave Southern California . . . . Do parents and/or siblings (employee's or spouse's) reside locally? i.e., emotional ties, support network, etc., . . . . Did employee go to college locally? i.e., deep friendships, homecoming/nostalgia, miscellaneous hand-jods for local alumni (I once knew two middle-aged, male, sports-fanatic UCLA graduates who would sooner give away their first-born children than to relinquish their volunteer jobs of holding & moving the yard-markers at home football games), etc.,This Dropped Anchor In The Local Community bullet might sound like I'm making the case for remaining single (fewer anchors). While that might be useful for getting higher raises, being single might also make you more vulnerable to layoffs. Why? Single adults going hungry due to being laid off is a sad story. But tales of families going hungry because dad got laid off can destroy the brand of the company and faith in Capitalism in general. i.e., All other things being equal, the single guy might get better raises, but the married guy is more immune to downsizing (companies know that kids are future consumers, future voters, future soldiers to protect the nation, future employment-seekers who help keep labor costs low, etc., etc.,).These factors make the assignment of passing (F/E/M) grades to the Retain employees a highly non-linear exercise that appears to be random with respect to actual performance:i.e., You can be average at your job, but if your skills are in short supply in the employment market, you can get an excellent rating. You can be outstanding at your job, but if your company knows you've got lots of local anchors, you can get a mediocre rating.We can already hear the young reader thinking “Holy crap! This is horribly unjust. What’s the point of working hard if we’re just Pavlovian dogs in a corporate parlor game?” Fear not.Good news #1. Armed with this information, you can take steps to keep the company from knowing more about you than is strategically in your best interest:Avoid water cooler conversation. Or at least consciously steer it clear of your anchors. Keep it on company news or outside-world news / sports / entertainment.Be as vague as possible if/when you are asked explicitly what you do with your non-work time (evenings, weekends, vacation time, sick leave, etc.,). Don't tell anyone anything that could give them clues about your anchors. This may seem standoffish & unfriendly, but personal information is potential ammunition that management can use to your disadvantage.When filling out company paperwork, write Proprietary or NTKB (need to know basis) on any fields that ask for data that you don’t want to give out. If corporations and governments can have secret information, then why can’t you?Good news #2. If you work in a large company, the sample size of your peers can be so large that it’s unavoidable that you will get a good qualitative sense of what the true talent distribution looks like, and where you fall on it. There’s no place to hide (nor should there be).Good news #3. You don’t need anyone’s words (written or verbal) to get useful feedback. The best gauge of your talent is other people’s actions:How in demand you are for new projects.How often people seek out your help (even when you’re not officially assigned to their current team).How often you get invited to design reviews, peer reviews, tiger-team meetings, etc.,How often you get invited to lunch. If you suck at your job, nobody wants to spend their precious free time with you -- even if you're a social butterfly with the wit of Noel Coward -- because they will be afraid of being thought to suck (guilt-by-association).Before future performance reviews, consider handing your managers a document that spells out your expectations, and tell them that you prefer NOT to be told what your “performance grade” is unless they can supply the specific data you need to really improve. An example follows.If this company wants me to take their Performance Review seriously, here are the 3 things I expect to receive in addition to my “grade”:1. The histogram of what the distribution of grades is in our group, department, section, center, division, and the company as a whole. Context matters.2. A list of names of the people in our immediate group/department/section who are getting F and E grades. How are we supposed to improve if management doesn’t show us what the Gold Standards are?3. An itemized list of detailed characteristics that management looks for in an employee (fitting my job description/category/type), and my grade for each:You do NOT need to be confrontational toward your management. You just want to communicate to them that you are prepared and will not be fooled by the Hidden Goals Of Their Existing Performance Review Scheme.
What are some strategic approaches for completing the self-evaluation component of a performance review?
I tend to agree with Say Keng Lee and Jeff Ronne that you want to be authentic and sincere about what you've done-which means that you wouldn't always want to delve too deeply in strategy.However, I would add one point to their great answers. As you examine what worked and didn't work for you during the year, ask yourself if it lines up with your future goals. For example, if you want to be working more on the product and your analysis of the product had you too distant from it, then maybe that's something that you can draw attention to in your performance review. Also, you want to be strategic depending on who is doing your performance review. Is this someone who knows the work that you're doing or is it someone who has a general understanding of your work but doesn't know the day-to-day? If it's the latter, maybe you give more specifics so she can understand the true scope of your work. Too often people assume that their manager knows what they're doing at all times-but depending on the company, the work and the management style, that's not always possible. Lastly, and forgive me for making this assumption but I was asked to answer by a woman. In my experience, often women tend to use performance review time to ask for raises and more money-but sometimes they assume that a good review will naturally lead to that discussion. Which is not always the case. If you want to ask for a raise or a promotion, then you want to very strategically spell out what you've done for the company. How that you're doing more than your current position and that you're ready for the next step (and quite often that you're already taking that next step and are doing the job ahead of your title.) Men do this too, but they don't have the unconscious bias that women have to deal with* in relation to performance reviews.And with that bias in mind, women, make sure that your conversation is not drawn towards your personality. If you feel that they are talking about your personality, or your 'tone', you want to make sure that you draw their attention back to your work. You can even bring up the Harvard study or talk about this prior to your review to ensure that people focus on your work and your skills. *See here: Studies: Performance Reviews Are Biased Against WomenWomen should watch out for this one word in their reviewsThe Insane Double Standard for Women Working in Tech
How true is it that Harvard has terrible grade inflation?
I’m not sure how pervasive it was overall, but I did witness one glaring example during my first semester.It was during a time when I took a very relaxed policy about attending lectures for my Calculus class. Meaning, I didn’t go.I was required to attend the smaller group sections, where attendance was taken, but every lecture could be skipped with no short-term repercussions. No teacher or coach or mom could make me go. The freedom was intoxicating.I was the embodiment of why high school graduates decide to take gap years, or why some countries have mandatory military service starting at age 18. A person who regularly skips class at a school that costs $50,000 a year so that he can sit in his room playing an online flash game called Slime Soccer is not ready for college.Unsurprisingly, I fell behind fast.I don’t know what I expected, jumping straight from Algebra II, the last math class I completed in high school, to calculus at an Ivy League. It was like trying to compete in an Iron Man without knowing how to ride a bike (the reason I didn’t drop the class was because I was convinced I had to major in economics if I wanted to get a job that made real money upon graduation).The first homework assignment felt like it was one of those ploys where the teacher tries to find a math genius by secretly giving the students unsolvable problems. Turns out it was really basic stuff that most people had mastered in high school.Still, I was always a good test taker, so I figured I’d somehow pull it together for the first exam.Nope. I got a 23/100.It’s never good when your test score isn't even a good baseball batting average.The next night, I went to a free tutoring session after basketball practice.Ten minutes after it began, I was in tears. Something inside of me snapped as I tried and failed to understand the basic properties of vectors. The tutor was great at math but not at emotional support. She tentatively patted my back the way you might pet a dog if you’re not really a dog person. Bless her for trying.When the session ended and I was left alone with my thoughts, I noticed something odd. It wasn’t that I was sad, it was that I couldn’t turn it around. The part of my brain that normally pumped me up and told me everything was going to be okay had abandoned me.I turned to that trusty section of grey matter for support, but all I got in return was, “Sorry man, I’ve got nothing. You’re screwed.”That’s when I first contemplated cheating, which was a big step for me. I’d never been a cheater. Growing up, it was an ironclad rule of mine: no cheating, ever. It was a way of separating myself from the people I saw as weak-willed losers.I got back to my dorm room, face still a bit puffy from crying while at the tutor, and mulled over a new lifestyle of sin.“Is this a life-defining decision? Does every evil person have this slippery slope moment? Was Jeffrey Dahmer once at a fork in the road, where one small decision was all that stood between normalcy and eating faces?”I decided that no, cheating wasn’t going to make me a bad person. Morality is malleable when you’re staring down the barrel of your first F.I mean, no one wants to cheat, but sometimes that's what you have to do to survive.Or when you really, really don't want to study.So, I joined up with some basketball teammates that night and copied their calculus homework.That wasn’t so immoral, I told myself. After all, most of the people I interacted with copied homework. I wasn’t a monster. Isaac Newton was the monster. The world was just fine without calculus.And thus started a rationalization a routine that would continue unabated for the rest of the semester. I started creating loopholes and justifications at a torrid pace, and like the cumulative effect of millions of exhaust pipes slowly eating away at the ozone layer, the scope of what I considered acceptable behavior got bigger and bigger.My chance to really embrace the devil on my shoulder, by attempting to cheat on an actual test, came a few weeks later. Our team was leaving for a road trip that happened to overlap with my second calculus midterm. It was the first time a trip conflicted with an exam, so I assumed that I’d just take the test when we got back from Maine.But no. Myself and three other teammates took the test in a small office next to the calculus lecture hall on the day before our road trip. The test was supposed to be proctored by a TA, but she stepped out of the room shortly after handing out the exam.If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite NBA player got great grades while attending an elite college even though he believes the earth is flat, it’s probably because he took a lot of tests where the proctor just happened to step out of the room.But instead of the cheating bonanza I was hoping for, paranoia set in. Were there hidden cameras? Had she just run to the bathroom? Was this a weird psych experiment?Whatever the case, my (so-called) friends, who were so keen to let me copy their problem sets, now stonewalled me. (It was almost the exact opposite of the time a similar thing happened to me in high school.)The TA didn’t come back for an hour, but we still soldiered on alone.I ended up getting 58/100, which was more than double my first score, but still an F. That's when I learned that there is no such thing as an F+, which I think is a little discouraging.There was now only one exam left. But, because the final was worth 35% of our grade, there was still hope that I could pass the class.Now was the time to really buckle down and make a plan • a plan that didn’t involve studying hard, missing basketball practice, or depriving myself of any fun activities. Those were non-negotiables in my warped world view.Sitting in my dorm room and pondering my dilemma, I realized that there was no need to overcomplicate things. How had people cheated since the beginning of time? They just snuck glances at the test next to them. So I decided to leverage a skill I’d honed on the basketball court since I was seven • my peripheral vision.After reframing all my hours of basketball practice as “study time,” I felt better about having barely reviewed any actual math leading up to the test.The day of the final, I chose a desk directly next to a smart girl I knew from my section.I felt jittery but ready. As the proctors handed out the tests, the “positive self talk” part of my brain finally reemerged. But now it was more like the ramblings of an unhinged business tycoon justifying a shady deal:“Yeah, you’re cheating, but for a good cause! And what is morality, anyway?”“You should never tell a lie, but what if you tell a lie to prevent a murder? Didn’t Kant say that was okay?”“Well, calculus is like a serial killer hell bent on slitting the throat of your future career prospects. You can’t sit back and let that happen.”After writing my name on the exam, I took a look at the first problem, I guess magically hoping it wouldn’t be gibberish. It was.So, I turned my head 10 degrees to the left and glanced at my classmate’s test. She was off to the races, writing quickly and legibly. I had to scramble to keep up. But then I noticed something printed on the top right corner of her exam:BI looked at the same spot on my exam:AOh lord.I checked the questions and realized hers were different than mine. Then I realized that there were multiple versions of the test, and that no one within my range of vision had test A. There went my plan.As I scribbled down equations, hoping for partial credit, my thoughts drifted to the future. Would I get kicked off the basketball team for failing? How would I tell my parents? What were the pros and cons of going to the bathroom and calling in a bomb threat?An hour later, the test ended and I was put out of my misery. I left the lecture hall feeling worse than the time I pooped my pants on the way to a high school basketball game. I couldn’t even cheat right. What hope did I have?When the score was posted online, I was unsurprised to see a 59/100 staring me in the face.I barely had time to digest this depressing news before another email came in telling me that I could view my final grades for every class.I figured I’d rip the band-aid off, so I logged in to the online portal. My eyes shot past French, Econ 101, and Expository Writing, going straight to Calculus.I stared in awe.C-I passed! And my parents would assume I was having normal academic growing pains, not that I’d become a craven cheater, devoid of all values and self respect!I was so elated I decided to walk over to the math building to talk to my calculus teacher, Sarah. (not her real name)She was the angel of a TF who taught our small group section and the one who gave me the passing grade. I wanted to shake her hand and maybe give her a hug.I also wanted to confirm my grade was real. I didn’t see how exam scores of F-, F+ and F+ could equal a C-. But hey, I am pretty bad at math.I found Sarah in our classroom, sitting behind her desk. She closed her laptop and smiled.“Hi Drew, what can I do for you?”“Hey, Sarah! I just wanted to say thanks. I can’t believe I passed. And, just...thanks.”“Drew, you had a positive attitude, you showed tremendous effort, and you had a burning desire to improve. Plus, you improved your performance on every test. I think with continued practice you will make a fine math student.”Now that’s how you see the positive side of an awful situation. She probably went on to an illustrious career as a political advisor.When I got back to my dorm room, I had another email. This one was informing me that I should fill out teacher evaluations for something called the Q Guide. This was a survey of the student body used to collect feedback about classes and teachers, which was then used by students to pick their classes.We rated each of our teachers on things like how clear their lessons were, how much passion they had for the subject matter, and, most importantly to slackers like me, how hard the class was.That’s when I realized that grade inflation had been working behind the scenes for me the whole semester. People always said it was a lot harder to get into Harvard than it was to get through it. Now, I believed them.I don’t think any young teacher of an entry level class wanted to be known as teaching “the hard class.” So, as a young TF trying to climb the ranks, what were you to do? It seems that some of them were as ethically flexible as I was.Sarah followed up our meeting with a nice email: “Thanks for always trying so hard and best of luck in the future.”Translated, that reads: “We both know what happened here, you lucky little bastard. You better give me a high rating in the Q guide.”Or maybe everything was just graded on a curve, and I actually didn’t do that bad in relation to everyone else. (Which is its own form of grade inflation.) Regardless, from that point on, I worried less about the prospect of failing a class. And it was so nice to know that I didn’t have to cheat.I probably should have paused at that point to reflect on what I’d become, what I wanted to achieve, and how I could avoid the temptation to cast aside every value I held dear when times got tough. But stressed out, kind of depressed, 18-year-old know-it-alls don’t have time for such petty concerns • there was so much Slime Soccer to be played.
How people work in supply chain management (SCM) in freelance? Is it that only big industries have SCM?
Are you asking if there are opportunities to work as a contractor or consultant? If the arrangement adds value, then yes and not uncommon.An SCM person or team doesn’t require large scale operations. You will just be wearing more hats.If I missed the mark, please rephrase your questions. Keep in mind that SCM is a broad field- it will help define a scope of work.
What are some tips to fill out the kvpy self appraisal form?
You should not lie in the self-appraisal form. Professors generally do not ask anything from the self appraisal form. But if they find out some extraordinary stuffs in your form, they may ask you about those topics. And if you do not know those topics properly, you will have higher chance of NOT getting selected for the fellowship. So, DO NOT write anything that you are not sure about.If I remember properly, in the form they ask, “What is your favorite subject?” and I mentioned Biology there. Head of the interview panel saw that and asked me about my favorite field of biology. When I told genetics, two professors started asking question from genetics and did not ask anything from any other fields at all (except exactly 2 chemistry questions as I mentioned chemistry as my 2nd favorite subject). But they did not check other answers in self-appraisal form (at least in my presence).Do mention about science camps if you have attended any. Again, do not lie.All the best for interview round. :)
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