Why I Crowdsourced My 2013 Performance Review


This year my team’s manager suggested we solicit input for our end-of-year work performance reports. I’m sure there’s copious books and blog articles describing exactly why this is a terrific idea. I only have a single retort, “Uggh! Given that lucid and irrefutable argument I quickly read and promptly ignored his email.

Why Not Ask Some One?

I can’t describe exactly why I passed up this opportunity for direct feedback from the very people who know me the best. Seems kinda dumb of me in retrospect. General social awkwardness? Blatant disregard for others? Misguided faith in my own self-awareness? Ego blocking the way of listening and understanding? Unwilling to burden others? At any rate at the time the very idea of directly asking someone to give me feedback made me feel all itchy.

Why Not Ask Everyone!

A transformative moment occurred when I hit a stumbling block filling in my self-evaluation. When I re-read what I wrote at the start of the year for one of my goals I drew a blank. While reflecting on it I was sitting together with most of my teammates as they silently worked and I blurted out, “What do all of you think? Did I do this one?”

To my great pleasure several of them chimed in their positive constructive criticism on how I met the goal. The social-barrier was breaking down for me and inspiration struck as I internalized my manager’s suggestion.

Since I’m completely mental for analytics I decided I’d ask absolutely everyone for feedback on my 2013 work performance. I’d treat it like a stylized customer survey making it online and anonymous reducing friction. Collating all responses would produce enlightening reflection and actionable to-dos.

Form-fu with Wufoo

Turns out building forms is a snap with the greatness that is  Wufoo. On the flipside their reporting system is awesome and flexible. Their free tier is exactly and simply what I want for my small personal need now, and I’d surely consider subscribing to them in the future for bigger jobs.

If you’re curious, check out my work performance survey. Feel free to fill it out if we worked together, or you want to give feedback on my blog articles for example.

Deciding My Survey

Crafting an anonymous survey is an easy way to go. Several of its entries are multiple-choice making it casual for those with limited time. Those entries are purposely written in a voice set for just a bit of fun. That reflects my personality and offers a lighthearted spirit to this potentially serious theme.

  • “What’s your relationship to Ken?” includes “secret admirer” just for a laugh
  • “How often do you use Ken?” sounds like a riff on typical product marketing
  • “Would you use Ken again?” is another subversive, yet insightful, remix from the corporate-world

I also placed the best possible entries first and selected them by default. Why not give myself a turbo boost?

Other entries are free-form for those willing to give more insight into what they recall of my work. Those questions are simply inspired by the ones we ask of ourselves after each two-week iteration in our retrospective meeting:

  • “What to start doing”
  • “What to stop doing”
  • “What to continue doing”


After building the survey, and giving it a quick test run just for sanity-sake, I sent an email around to my team asking them to fill it in if so inclined. I also included a few folks I work with often, but who are outside of my immediate shoulder-to-shoulder team. I figure product owners and design partners have a stake in making me better!

Reaching a little farther, just for curiosity-sake, I posted the  survey URL to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook too. Why not?

Feed the Data Monster

Crowdsourcing my 2013 work performance review seems feels like a good idea. I’m imagining that a large group of people considering how helpful I was will surely make me better. The more sample points the better the graph. I believe there’s wisdom in crowds.

Folks will confirm the things I think are helpful are in fact helpful and I ought not to stop doing. Folks will tell me why they think I can start doing new things based on what they know of my skills and their need. A few brave folks have told me what to stop doing and those are clearly within my reach if it makes them more comfortable.


Although I had five questions in hand when I started assembling my form I of course issued a quick search in Google to learn more stuff. Below you’ll find a few useful pages for writing customer surveys. Perhaps you’re thinking that’s overkill, but in fact we all have “personal brand” when it it comes to working with others. Mindfully curating that brand is worthy of our time because it serves the community.

What About 2014?

I’ll wait a few more weeks for entries to flow into my Wufoo account, but I’ll almost certainly do this again next year. It’s too tempting having access to this valuable information. Give me a shout out on all of this if you like.

Meanwhile I’ll have a coffee, give the survey reports a read, and look forward to doing something awesome with all of you in 2014!