Pat is a programmer at a large software company. At best, he’s a middling performer; his code is a mess (initializing variables that are never used, using variable names no one else understands, etc.), he takes longer than he should, and he doesn’t even remember his own code months later.
But Pat’s poor coding skills aren’t his most annoying attribute. What frustrates his manager the most is that Pat is absolutely convinced that he’s a great programmer. Last month was Pat’s performance review, and after receiving a low score from his manager, Pat incredulously argued:
“I’m one of the best programmers in this department! What kind of rating scale are you even using if someone with my talent can get a low score? There’s no way that your performance review form is accurately assessing my abilities. Or maybe you’re just assessing a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with actually being a programmer!”
If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.