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Don't Call It Stack Rank: Yahoo's QPR System For Culling Non-Performers 177

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from the turns-out-you're-a-slacker dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Employees don't like to be graded on the bell curve (or any other curve except for Lake Wobegon's) — we know that from the Microsoft experience. But Yahoo is struggling with what some say is vastly bloated headcount, and CEO Marissa Mayer has implemented a 'quarterly performance review' system that requires, or strongly recommends, that managers place a certain quota of their charges in the less-than-stellar categories. That sounds a lot like the infamous GE-Microsoft stack rank system. But according to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, who (as usual) broke the latest story about life inside Mayer's Yahoo, Mayer's curve may more similar to the elaborate evaluation system used by her old employer, Google."
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Don't Call It Stack Rank: Yahoo's QPR System For Culling Non-Performers

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  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @02:42PM (#45378129)

    The main effect of this is to chill work-place climate, and foster distrust and back-stabbing. The result of that is always the ones that have alternatives (i.e. the best ones) leaving first. Sure, you can get rid of some dead wood that way too, but the overall effect is disastrous. A real manager know that, but Mayer has shown several times now that she does not even understand the basics of management.

    • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @02:57PM (#45378213)

      ... Sure, you can get rid of some dead wood that way too, but the overall effect is disastrous. A real manager know that, but Mayer has shown several times now that she does not even understand the basics of management.

      I'm guessing that by the time it has any effect she has already secured her bonuses thanks to her unprecendented cost-cutting measures... Planning beyond a quarter year is so 50's.

      • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:03PM (#45378245)

        This. Sometimes you make more money by destroying a company.

        • by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @04:35PM (#45378711)

          Which is why performance bonuses should be based on long term results.

          • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @05:49PM (#45379065)

            Another argument is that performance bonuses don't work at all (basic repetitive labour excepted).

            You're paying people to do a job. If they won't do the job unless you pay them extra to do it, why are you even giving them a salary? And if their game is the bonus, they will be sure to do the least possible for the bonus, rather than the most possible for the job. This is especially significant in the absence of employer loyalty.

            A quick search for studies on performance related pay may be enlightening.

            • by russotto (537200)

              You're paying people to do a job. If they won't do the job unless you pay them extra to do it, why are you even giving them a salary?

              You're paying them to do a job, but the exact parameters of that job aren't well defined. If pay isn't tied to performance, why would they put in anything more than the effort necessary to get "acceptable" performance? What does busting their ass get them? At lower levels there's chance for advancement (which also results in more pay) but in most companies for technical peo

              • by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @08:07PM (#45379737)

                You don't have to. The best people are by definition self-motivated. They achieve high results because to do otherwise isn't in their personality. If you need to financially motivate them to insane amounts as well, you've already failed.

                • The best people have their own motivations. Their motivations don't always align with your motivations. If you are the manager, offering a bonus helps align their motivations with your motivations.

                  No one thinks, "Yeah, I'm going to wake up this morning and do whatever my boss asks me to! It will be great I feel so excited!"
                  • by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @12:28AM (#45380881)

                    No, a financial motivation gives them reasons to game the system no matter what's best for your company. See: Elop at Nokia or Fiorina at HP for good examples.

                    • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @02:28AM (#45381479) Homepage

                      Not all employees are the same. Some employees are in fact a sub-species of humanity psychopaths, no matter the system of remuneration they will spend more time trying to 'game' the system that actually doing there job. The psychopaths number one focus on the job, take credit for good work and ideas from as many people as possible and blame them for them for your mistakes. A pattern will represented in your typical psychopath, corporate executive.

                      So the trick is all down to recruiting, avoid the bad people and getting the good people. Never forget just one psychopath can destroy the effectiveness of a hundred employees, by creating a hostile destructive work place. So going forward psych testing will be the best way but and here's the great big fat but, leading corporate executives are likely to reject because, it would threaten them personally.

                      Create a system of competition amongst employees and the plotters and schemers will team together and win. Better employees will be disgusted by it all and quite simply bail and go else where. It'll look good while they are loosing employees and as Yahoo's revenue continues to drop whilst profits increase but inevitably the incompetent CEO with no ideas will hit the management wall and those falling revenues will start eating profits.

                    • Of course, any intelligent psychopath will game the testing system...

                      The really insidious+evil people take a while to identify, if they're ever identified at all. Fortunately, most people *aren't* like that - although the ones that are tend to have the great impact in ANY social setting.

                • by Cytotoxic (245301)

                  You don't have to. The best people are by definition self-motivated. They achieve high results because to do otherwise isn't in their personality. If you need to financially motivate them to insane amounts as well, you've already failed.

                  Yes, the best people are self-motivated. And if you are paying them $X and they can make 7*$X somewhere else, you won't hold them long. And if you want someone making $X at your competitor to join your company, you'd do well to offer him more than $X to leave.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by russotto (537200)

                  Self-motivation is sufficient if they're doing what THEY want. If they're doing what YOU want, and it doesn't exactly align with what they want (and unless they're principals in the company, it doesn't), that's where the external motivation comes in.

                  Being self-motivated doesn't mean being a chump. If they see that putting in more effort doesn't result in more reward, they're going to stop putting in so much effort on the things you want them to do, and use the saved time and effort to do the things they w

            • If the bonus is tied to specific, reachable goals, then it makes a difference. If someone tells you, "I'll give you a 60% bonus to release by date X," wouldn't you feel motivated to at least try to reach the date? Maybe even work extra hours if you have to?
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            That's not what the owners, i.e. the shareholders, want. Quick profits then dump the stock, move on to the next victim. When the company inevitably fails it's because it couldn't retain the great CEO that saved it, indicating that everyone else should pay them even more.

    • by lgw (121541) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:38PM (#45378417) Journal

      I can only agree with you 90%. You can do one round of layoffs where you stack rank and dump low-performing employees: one. That won't hurt the climate, because even though the system won't be perfect, the first time you do it (a) there really will be deadwood no one will be sorry to see go, and (b) there hasn't been time to game the system.

      Doing this quarterly is particularly insane. People will be so busy gaming the system, when are they supposed to get any work done?

      • by jd2112 (1535857) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @04:55PM (#45378785)

        p>Doing this quarterly is particularly insane. People will be so busy updating their resumes and scheduling interviews, when are they supposed to get any work done?

        Fixed it for you.

        • by lgw (121541)

          That wouldn't be as bad as the reality. Only the good people will leaving. The people who are better at sucking up to the boss (or whatever is rewarded) than coding have just found their life-long niche.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The system is actually very easy to game. Here's how you do it: As a manager, you need to identify and hire a couple people who are totally worthless each year. This is actually a lot easier than hiring good people.

        Then you can give the bad ratings to those people. If they're really that bad, they've probably figured it out, and won't be upset with the horrible rating; they'll be happy to have at least had a job for a while.

        Some day companies will figure out that this system encourages such behavior and

      • I think the engineers and senior engineers know who the dead wood is, but to ask them? nahh never.

        Id day get rid of 90% of the managers, outsource it to india at 1/10th the cost.

        • by lgw (121541)

          I've been asked, as a senior engineer, though admittedly not at places broken enough to do repeated layoffs. (And believe me, you really don't want your manager to be outsourced to India.)

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Absolutely, Mostly because Managers that do this crap are typically the really horrible ones that are trying to hide that they are actually medicore or even on the low ends of the bell curve.

      Section Leader:"Lumpy, I'm grading you lower because your work is making others look bad. We are a team, you should do your other team mates work to help them catch up..."

      Lumpy: "FUCK YOU! How about not hiring brainless toads that sit in the bathroom for 2 hours a day and texting every 10 minutes? Is this a daycare o

      • This thread is about bad employers, but your attitude smacks of bad employee.

        If you think you're the one great employee picking up everyone else's slack, I have two items of news for you:
        1) You're not;
        2) Mediocre employees all think the same.

        • by cheekyboy (598084)

          Hey moron, what if he is a good worker, and has been there for 8years +, and was responsible for creating good shit that earned the company millions.

          Mediocre employees dont think period. They just work, say yes, and go home, and ask for pay rises every 3 months. The quiet , non complainers are the weak ones.

          And yes like govt depts, thats how it happens, they DONT like over achievers because it makes the old and useless dick heads look crap for what they really are.

        • by gweihir (88907)

          That is the easy way out for incompetent managers. All the complainers must be just that: Complainers. But here is the problem: While a part of the complainers are really just what you say, another, and far more critical part is not.

          That you get inflated self-evaluations from low performers is just the Dunning-Kruger effect at work. It applies to managers even more strongly, unfortunately. There are also many manager-types that have a real problem with "underlings" that know they are good and are right, bec

    • At first the system trims the "fat" and it seems to improve the things, because corporations tend to accumulate fat. However soon the system becomes victim of its own success. There is no more fat to cut. So it starts to trim more and more "muscle" and less and less fat. This goes until the corporation collapses when it can not support its own weight anymore. In the mean time it may show symptoms of anemia and massive internal infection.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @04:26PM (#45378655)

        This is pretty much exactly what is happening where I work.

        We have an annual evaluation period, and yes, for the first 3 years we got rid of a lot of useless people. Also (surprisingly) we got rid of a lot of useless managers, which almost never happens. And it worked great, we have a very effective group of people, the right level of management, everyone is busy but not too busy and doing good work.

        When they first started doing it, it worked as well in real life as it did on paper. For every group of like 5 or 6 people, there were 4 that were doing great, and 1 or 2 that were dragging everyone down. It was easy to look and say "yup, there's your problem".

        Now those 1 or 2 are gone and you are making a choice between 4 people who are all about the same and definitely worth keeping. Luckily the system is now mainly just driving raises and not layoffs, but it still sucks.

    • by msauve (701917)
      Maybe they should do all their hiring in Lake Wobegon, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."
      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Yeah, that reference was already in the SUMMARY, let alone the article, thanks.

        But if you want to be serious, there is no reason a company like Yahoo! can't hire mostly above average engineers if they want to pay. And there is a reason the Yankees have been in the playoffs 18 of the last 20 years. They pay for above average players. It's annoying, but it's the truth...

    • by gtall (79522)

      It isn't so much management, it is basic understanding of what animates human behavior. When a CEO cannot see this, it means they have no empathy because they cannot see themselves being subject to the same insane system. In that case, the best thing one can do is leave at the earliest opportunity because it will only get worse.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      This is Yahoo!. The good ones have already left long ago. Now it's a battle for the leftovers.

  • no matter how high (Score:4, Insightful)

    by etash (1907284) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @02:45PM (#45378147)
    the performance of your employees is, there will always be a top 10% and a bottom 10% in the bell curve or in any other system that is.
    • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @02:52PM (#45378181)
      Unless you're in the 70s jeans industry. Then everybody's into the bottom bell curves. :P
    • by pla (258480) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:08PM (#45378279) Journal
      The problem extends beyond even that basic fact of statistics. In a large company with 10% average annual turnover, if they could selectively get rid of the bottom 10% and replace them with randomly-performing people, ranked performance would actually work pretty well.

      The problem here comes comes from the sample size per manager for consideration of these rankings. Let's say you have a department with three top-level managers, each having a team of 10 subordinates. You should ideally end up ranking three of them as the bottom 10% and three of them as the top 10% - And you will! Except, each of those managers will pick a top-1 and a bottom-1, rather than picking from the pool consisting of the entire department.

      As a result, even if team-A consists of all stellar performers and team C consists of all wastes of flesh, team A will have one member unfairly fired, and team C will have one member unfairly rewarded more than the average for team A.

      Now, under natural conditions, that distinction between team A and C probably wouldn't exist to any notable degree - Until you extend a policy like this across the entire company. Instead of losing the bottom 10% and promoting the top 10%, you end up actively selecting for a corporate culture that favors pooling into over- and under-performing teams exactly like A and C. The high performers, by definition, will pick teams that actually get things done; while the low performers will pick teams where they feel "safe" from flawed performance reviews.


      Yet another stunning win for Ms. "paid maternity leave for me, fuck the rest of you" Meyer.
      • by hibiki_r (649814) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:43PM (#45378447)

        I've been in one of those companies. The top performers have a few options: Set things up to be the one competent developer in a team, thus getting good reviews but lots of stress and zero. They can go into the good team, and then play politics, because once all developers are pretty good, most managers can't tell who is actually the best of the lot, or just quit. Then there's option 3: Leave for a less horrible employer, and then quickly poach all those other good developers who hate the system. The lucky company gets a much better staff than average, while the other loses a good percentage of their top talent, needing even deeper staffing cuts. Repeat until all development is sent overseas, because the local talent the company has is now so bad, you are better off with an average team 10 time zones away.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Now, under natural conditions, that distinction between team A and C probably wouldn't exist to any notable degree

        Actually, that's not true. Because good performers don't like to work with poor performers, and some poor performers don't like to work with good performers (because it makes them look bad -- others instead choose the leech approach), there is natural segregation of ability by team. When there's strict stack ranking, managers of good teams will deliberately acquire or allow a leech or two in t

      • Wow, all that time spent trying to rank people. Why did you hire all these bad employees in the first place? Seems like an HR/management problem to me.

        • by schnell (163007)

          Why did you hire all these bad employees in the first place? Seems like an HR/management problem to me.

          If you have figured out the magic formula to never ever hire a bad employee, we'd all love to hear it and how well it has worked at the scale of a large company.

          • A magic formula to stop hiring so many bad employees that you need to fire ~10% every 3 months? Most companies seem to manage it already.

            A bad employee is identified qualitatively, not quantitatively.

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              > If you have figured out the magic formula to never ever hire a bad employee, we'd all love to hear it and how well it has worked at the scale of a large company.

              I dunno. Perhaps actually put that probationary period to good use and actually fire people that aren't good enough.

              However, the real problem here are managers that will hire idiots and avoid competent people. Others have mentioned about how quality often breaks down by teams with entire teams being good or bad because it's the manager that's d

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        As a result, even if team-A consists of all stellar performers and team C consists of all wastes of flesh, team A will have one member unfairly fired, and team C will have one member unfairly rewarded more than the average for team A.

        Well, unless they are all doing the same job that's not necessarily a problem. And if they are and the whole team was useless it's likely the manager would be shitcanned as well and things would resolve themselves...

        But anyway, I don't really disagree that stack ranking/curves are horrible, I really just wanted to point out in today's tech job market companies like Yahoo are much more likely to turn over their top 10% than their bottom 10%, unless they make drastic concessions to keep them....

    • by Gavrielkay (1819320) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:14PM (#45378301)
      I suppose by the most basic definition that is true. However, a manager's ability to actually determine where any given employee ranks is always suspect. Some people are very good at doing nothing while looking invaluable and others are very good at getting things done without boasting. Some people are good at boosting a whole team thus harming their own ability to stand out (to the oblivious manager) but are tremendous value to the company nonetheless. If managements get too ham-fisted about trying to rank everyone by some arbitrary standard, they will always lose some truly good people along with the bad.
      • by Alomex (148003)

        This. I'm one of those people who naturally works in "duck mode". All cool on the surface, a shit storm under water. Usually only around a year or two after I join a team does higher management realizes how much I got done, and more importantly how much I managed to get my team to do, by coaching, inspiring and cajoling.

        I've never worked in a stack rank place, but if I ever did, I don't think I would last long enough to prove my worth.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      Why does everyone assume that performance follows a bell curve? Why not right-skewed, reverse-J shaped, or multimodal?

      For what it's worth, most of the college statistics tests that I give have a bimodal distribution. Mostly A's, lots of F's, (you either get it or you don't) very little in the middle ground. I think it's best to be honest about that and not delude ourselves with manipulated data.

  • In a way this is bad for employee morale because nobody likes to see people fired and nobody likes to be ranked. Then again, the stories (and lack of new great products) out of Yahoo seems to indicate that employees are demotivated. I hate that it takes firings to motivate some employees, but Yahoo seems like a company that needs a "shock the system" moment and this steps combines with the work from home ban to send the message to some employees who may have been drifting along just cashing paychecks for t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In a way this is bad for employee morale because nobody likes to see people fired and nobody likes to be ranked. Then again, the stories (and lack of new great products) out of Yahoo seems to indicate that employees are demotivated. I hate that it takes firings to motivate some employees,

      Employee morale never responds positively in the face of co-workers being terminated. The highly-motivated employees will simply leave an organization in response to employee ranking. If a manager cannot manage their staff either the manager is inept, lazy, or wilfully negligent.

      • by HornWumpus (783565) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:20PM (#45378337)

        I disagree. _IF_ management could identify and fire the air thieves moral would improve.

        Nobody likes to do somebody else's work in addition to their own.

        But if management could identify air thieves they wouldn't hire so many in the first place.

        The first air thieves to be fired should always be managers. Never happens that way.

        How about simply firing those who can't build working teams and letting the remaining managers pick over the failing teams members?

        • by lgw (121541)

          The key is you can only do this once. Repetition kills your company. And this seems to be a quarterly thing, which seems insane to me.

          • by HornWumpus (783565) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:53PM (#45378499)

            I don't know about once. But not very often. Assuming you find a management group that can reasonably rate techs.

            If you have to do it often, the first person to fire is the head of HR.

            But that's another discussion. HR should be about compliance, benefits etc. They have (as a group) proven themselves incompetent to hires techs or engineers and should not even be involved with the hiring process.

            What I have seen work is good teams defending themselves during probation periods AND being listened to. In that case between 1/3 and 1/2 of new hires didn't make it through probation. Plus you have to start with a good team in the first place. Didn't last; eventually they needed faster growth; eventually I left.

            • Re:Both good and bad (Score:4, Informative)

              by paiute (550198) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @05:23PM (#45378921)

              HR should be about compliance, benefits etc. They have (as a group) proven themselves incompetent to hires techs or engineers and should not even be involved with the hiring process.

              I had the same job for many years, read a lot of resumes to fill many positions. Then I got laid off. One of my severance benefits was advice on resume building and such, which I had not done in decades. I was pretty surprised to find that the modern scientific resume has to pass an HR filter before a scientist even sees it.

              • It gets better. I was looking at a company that needed a programmer. I had a friend who was a manager there. My friend didn't need me, but he knew another manager who did. The other manager and I were forced to run gauntlet through HR. After a while, I asked what happened to my resume. My friend and the other manager said, "What resume?" HR had swallowed it and never gave it to them. After HR was alerted to not throw my resume away, they still did. It took 3 times before my resume got to the manage
            • by lgw (121541)

              But that's another discussion. HR should be about compliance, benefits etc. They have (as a group) proven themselves incompetent to hires techs or engineers and should not even be involved with the hiring process.

              That depends what you call "HR". I've met plenty of full-time technical recruiters who understood the industry well enough to find resumes for hiring managers to look at, without mindless keyword filtering, or looking for X years of technology Y, or whatever.

              The best set-ups I've seen: the company uses both a staff recruiter (permanent employee of the company who works with the same engineering managers long-term) and contract recruiters. The contract recruiters find prospects and are bonused when they pl

      • Agreed.

        It is not only import to motivate people but ALSO to NOT DE-Motivate people. For some reason management always seems to gloss over that 2nd point which is just as important.

        Some of the best teams I've worked on have been highly self-motivated. We all take pride in doing a job well. The shitty employees don't give a crap -- all they want is a paycheck.

    • The beatings will continue until morale improves!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @02:59PM (#45378231)

    Having worked for an organization that decided to follow this strategy, I did what all the good employees at my company did: we left for better jobs elsewhere. Yahoo is on its way to the dustbin of history, helped along by its senior management. My recommendation to Yahoo employees: get out while the gettin's good! Otherwise, you're in for the demoralizing experience of riding a sinking ship to the bottom!

  • by stox (131684) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:04PM (#45378253) Homepage

    A coward instills fear. In the long run, fear is a destructive force in a company. In the short run, it can boost profits. I am sure that Marissa will be long gone, after collecting an enormous bonus for that short term boost, to see the real results of her actions.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:06PM (#45378273)
    Case in point is an example from the article about how a manager was forced to ding a well-performing employee simply because the implied curve system requires someone to get a negative mark. What's ironic is that these 'systems' were created because executives assume middle management can't be trusted to make consistently good personnel decisions, thus their decisions were replaced with a mechanized process, which means management itself suffers from the same problem executives are trying to solve at the employee level.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:35PM (#45378405)

      Sorry to post as AC, but...

      I have worked for a large American ISP and (more recently) entertainment company based in Philadelphia for quite some time.

      Departments are routinely forced to bucket X% of their full-time staff into the "needs improvement" category regardless of the performance of the department or the employees involved. It leads to horse trading among the departmental managers where mid-managers take turns accepting one or more of these dings (on behalf of some member of their team). If it was only a check mark in the employee's personnel file, I doubt many would care. However, it directly impacts the annual raise (for cost of living adjustments) and annual bonus amounts paid to the poor sap who gets hit with the NI rating and that impact can be quite substantial. This makes no real sense and is devastating for morale for smaller departments that tend to be very careful with hiring in the first place. Every year, the company has a public catharsis where employees are encouraged to vent and this comes up all the time, but the policy continues. And I would agree that it leads to employees with the most options to explore those options more regularly than they would otherwise.

      If the goal is to strive for mediocrity, then it is being achieved.

  • who (as usual) broke the latest story about life inside Mayer's Yahoo, Mayer's curve may more similar to the elaborate evaluation system used by her old employer, Google."

    Stack rank for grammar = 0.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:26PM (#45378361)

    The whole performance review one's got to go quota system has been going on at SpaceX for a couple years now as well. Elon passed down a "one from every group" quota where at least one person in each group would be given 90 days to improve or get fired. Some of the managers refused to put any of their team on a "process improvement plan" but others just picked someone. It's shitty to watch good employees who are working long hours and getting it done get scared into working harder and faster. The real problem this creates is some of the fluff groups with good managers hold onto their crap employees because the manager will stick up for them whereas the hardcore groups that have bad managers will lose someone who's making good contributions because it's gotta be someone.

    There isn't much concern from the top about losing the good ones though, there seems to be a general consensus that some smart kids from college will replace them in a few months once they're gone.

    • by hibji (966961)

      That's depressing to hear. I thought SpaceX was one of the good companies. :(

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with measuring employee performance relative to other employees. That's how you identify and promote the most promising candidates for internal promotion, and eliminate people who don't measure up.

    What there IS something wrong with is using irrelevant metrics to make those measurements. Goals and deliverables must be objective, reasonable, and attainable. Many companies already named in this thread have a bad habit of setting subjective, unreasonable, and unattainable goals

    • by lgw (121541) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @03:50PM (#45378487) Journal

      An engineer is professionally employed to game the system. If you ever make the reward higher to game the review system than to do his actual job, that's it for your company.

      Yes, you will get morale problems and brightsizing and managers hiring ablative employees, but what's worse is: your engineers are now all focused on gaming the wrong system. Goodbye innovation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @04:32PM (#45378689)

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with measuring employee performance relative to other employees

      Yes there is, because as you allude to later, it's IMPOSSIBLE to do it consistently and fairly across teams, and rankings within a given team have absolutely no relation to each other. Is a marketing guy who produced a successful campaign more or less important than a salesperson who actually sold the products being marketed, or an R&D engineer responsible for the innovative feature that the marketing guy highlighted and the salesperson sweet talked customers with? How about the IT person who developed innovative solutions to provide R&D, marketing, and sales with the systems, tools, and support they needed to do the above? What about each of those folks' direct managers who motivated and directed their teams to excel? It's just not possible to compare those people to each other objectively.

      If you want a lame car analogy, how about we get rid of the low-performing car parts, but we have the driver pick which ones to keep? You can get in the end you'll still have a comfortable seat, A/C, and the stereo, but the car probably won't actually be able to move...

      Just hire competent managers, do some manager and job rotation, encourage high performance and risk-taking without fear of consequences for ideas that didn't end up being the next big thing, you often need hundreds of "failures" to get one huge success.. The biggest thing is to treat employees extremely well, show them they are valued, trust them, go the extra mile for them, and they will most often return the favor. Just be very very very very careful in hiring, and if necessary use temporary contractors for grunt-work or temporary demand spikes, etc. The goal should be zero layoffs (you can of course still fire "for cause" IF you have a true problem employee). Avoid unions like the plague if at all possible as they are incompatible with the above, they look out _only_ for themselves, and to some small degree, workers, but not for the company as a whole. You want a culture where everyone across the company is in it together, NOT us-versus-them. You will be richly rewarded if you can succeed at that. In hard times employees will band together and be willing to accept less compensation and go the extra mile because they know when times are good you'll return the favor, the company looks out for its own. There's a huge benefit to being a private company in that respect because there's less pressure from greedy shareholders for short-term quarterly profits.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well put mostly. The entire purpose of a union is to extract as much value from an employer as possible, just as the purpose of a corporation is to extract as much as possible from labor and everyone else. That is, as the right wingers like to say, 'fair and balanced'. Being anti union and pro corporate makes no logical sense unless you believe workers should have no rights and should be paid the minimum possible with no recourse. Not being accusative as your post is quite thougtful, but the US is g

  • Over and over and over. Yes, it seems right. Yes, it feels right. There's just that little matter of how it's failed at every place it's been tried. Used a Microsoft product lately?

    There is certainly a time and a place to fire troublemakers and low performers, but forcing the firing even when there aren't any troublemakers or low performers is just a recipe for expensive turnover, lowered morale and the loss of long term institutional knowledge.

  • as Kara is not an experienced HR?IR professional - she is qualified to comment on this matter how exactly.
    • God save us from 'HR professionals'. Air thieves, every one.

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        Depends if they aren't "players" not so much - hint dont hire ones who are paper professionals with a mba from harvard. Its all fun and giggles until you end up in in court and a £1000 an hour barrister from matrix chambers elegantly ripping your guts out onto the floor and you can see your career and your mangers on the witness stand dispersing down the plug hole.
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Saturday November 09, 2013 @04:21PM (#45378643) Homepage

    The best it can tell you is the relative work abilities of one small group and really tells you nothing at all abou the qualities of each member. This method would have fired Pauli and Born because they ranked 'ranked' below Einstein, Heisenber, Shroedinger and Bohr.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @05:12PM (#45378869)

      This method would have fired Pauli and Born because they ranked 'ranked' below Einstein, Heisenber, Shroedinger and Bohr.

      They were about to, but then Heisenberg pointed out that it was impossible to determine both the strength of the group and the rank of an employee within the group, at the same time.

    • Heisenberg wouldn't be in danger of getting fired. He is the danger.

  • after all, how many developers do you need for a weather app.

  • If they are overstaffed, just friggen do a layoff of all the people over 40 like the rest of Silicon Valley does. If some people sue just settle.

    Sad to say, but some arbitrary random process like this will piss people off only once, unlike the stupid quarterly arbitrary random review process pissing everyone off 4 times a year.

    I've never met Marisa, but dang her HR ideas are completely insane.

  • Corporate ethics - We won't take responsibility for sucking and thus having to fire you to make our quarter, so we'll create a lie that makes it look like you sucked at your job even though it will fuck your job hunt.

    Nice.

  • AFAIK, the problem with "stack rank" was that it let go of people at the bottom regardless of how good their performance was in absolute terms; that's not reasonable, because sooner or later you end up kicking out good performers. Letting people go who actually are performing badly is different, and seems reasonable.

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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