Is our Performance Review system broken?

Stephanie A.
2 min readDec 7, 2021

I’ve always wondered what will make me happy. As I continued to seek the answer to gaining more “happiness,” it’s becoming more vague on what the definition of happiness is. Is this something I can measure and see progress towards a certain goal? Despite all the questions around “happiness,” and whether we are seeking to drive happiness, stableness, or trying to even being less stressed, there is one common theme I have been seeing and hearing: You are enough. Believe in yourself, trust yourself, and love yourself.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

Then this got me thinking: Will I ever achieve my goal of believing that “I am enough” in my job? I can speak for all jobs, but for what I have experienced across various tech jobs is that they always give feedback and hint that “you are not enough.”

Many tech companies require a performance review, for which the manager delivers feedback on the person’s strengths and areas to improve on. In all companies that I have worked at, we had a 360-degree review, meaning you get reviews from your peers and managers (+ direct reports if you are a manager) and you also give feedback to peers & managers. These feedback were then aggregated to give a “performance review” at certain time points (often twice a year or once a year).

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Do you see the discrepancy? On one hand, I’m pursuing to find more “happiness” by believing I’m good enough, but on the other hand I’m constantly getting feedback that I have an area to improve. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you’re still good enough even if you get constructive feedback at work, but still we’re wired to think and share feedback on how to make someone or myself better at our workplace.

I’m writing this today not because I have a solution or intended to throw rocks at the current system, but as a reflection of given the type of person I am and what I’m pursuing in my life, do I want to continue this path forward.. 🤔