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Any Germans around here?

I just found this website http://www.artima.com/wbc/interprogP.html. Somewhere on it there's an Angelika Langer talking about the way she handles hiring a programmer. She says that when you leave a company every employee is handled a written review. Now, is something that kills me. What does it happen when you work at a problem company and simply have to leave it?

An example: You're hired. You do your thing. Suddenly the company doesn't need you any more but because of the laws you can't be fired. How does the boss makes you live? He makes your live miserable. You leave.
You're not getting out in good terms with him. Worse, it's written on paper, on that final evaluation.

How do you handle that?

RP
Saturday, April 03, 2004

This is indeed the cheesiest system in the world.

In fact as an employer you are only allowed to write nice stuff. You really can't write it down if your employee was a foul apple. Now, a system evolved out of this. Employers have grown fond of writing certain sentences that "are understood" but not explicit. There are whole codebooks you can actually buy.

Don't ask me who invented this bs, but it's indeed a typical example of where Germany does something Really Stupid.

_
Sunday, April 04, 2004

Working link, hopefully:
http://www.artima.com/wbc/interprog3.html

Pavel
Sunday, April 04, 2004

I understand those subtle messages that are sent by nice reviews. What I mean is, what do you do when you know you don't have a good review. You know those nice words written on paper are actually damaging you, how do you do to get away from the stigma?

RP
Sunday, April 04, 2004

"You know those nice words written on paper are actually damaging you, how do you do to get away from the stigma?"

You sue. As a previous poster said, your employer can't really say anything negative about you anyways. But even if he wraps it in nice and flowery phrases, if the undertone is damaging to you, you can sue.

In case you actually are a bad apple, that will not help you, of course.

BTW: The above-mentioned phrase books are quite useless - *everybody* knows about them. So you better get creative when you write a bad review - the judge knows'em, too.

What I don't get are the "Germany gets it wrong" statements here - how is this different from the system of references used in the states? If you leave on bad terms, it's quite unlikely you'll get any good reference from a supervisor.

It's simply a fact of life that, if you leave your company in anger, you will not get a good reference or review. No matter what the legal system behind it is.

Robert 'Groby' Blum
Sunday, April 04, 2004

I think the previous comments didn't say that Germany doesn't "get it wrong" because bad employees can get bad reviews but rather because stupid laws mandate that employers (a) have to write reviews and (b) cannot give honest (from their point of view) opinions.

Chris Nahr
Sunday, April 04, 2004

The firing laws incidentally give you some leverage.  An incentive for someone to get rid of you on terms not too damaging to you.  And I think you can get such a review from anyone with sufficent authority, not just the person you have problems with.

It is a facet of a system which emphasizes documentation to an amusing extent.  Alles in Ordnung...  Of course, this is not to dump on Germany, since the US has problems of its own in the opposite extreme -- a system which encourages decisionmakers to act disloyal to employees.  Companies at malicious extremes will always bend rules into pitfalls, no matter the country.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Sunday, April 04, 2004

"It's simply a fact of life that, if you leave your company in anger, you will not get a good reference or review. No matter what the legal system behind it is."

At my employer, our official policy is to never give references at all.  We'll confirm dates for someone's employment, and that's it.  This is explicitly to avoid getting sued over giving someone a bad review.

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

In Britain you are required to give a reference if requested.  The usual technique for giving a bad one is to "damn with faint praise". 

a cynic writes...
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The problem with the reference system is that I've had some managers that didn't have a clue what work I did. In one job I took part in two product launches on a very well known Internet website that had no reported errors on my part. The manager thought that the products didn't launch because he never heard anything back. He never heard anything back because they were trouble free. So I really got the impression he had no idea what kind of work I did.

Savage
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I think the problem with the reference system is that the people that write it aren't technically more experienced that you, but simply people with either more money (so they can start they own companies) or more contacts.

Savage
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

In Germany, employers usually require a recommendation from your current employer before they’ll make a job offer. Then people give up to three months notice that they’re leaving.

That just totally changes the dynamics. People don’t quit jobs as often as they do in the US and employers don’t fire people as often. Everybody makes nice because changing jobs is such a hassle. Sure it’s pure theater – but it is here, too, isn’t it?

It’s all a matter of opinion which system is better. Without having to worry about losing your job, there’s not as much reason for people to play office politics and you can get on with your job. On the other hand, if you’re stuck with a miserable Arschloch for a boss, you’re pretty much stuck.

Celia Redmore
Thursday, April 08, 2004

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