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Ask Slashdot: How Does Your Company Evaluate Your Performance?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the score-me dept.

Businesses 525

jmcbain writes "I'm a former Microsoftie, and one thing I really despised about the company is the 'stack ranking' employee evaluation system that was succinctly captured in a recent Vanity Fair article on the company. Stack ranking is basically applying a forced curve distribution on all employees at the same level, so management must place some percentage of employees into categories of overperforming, performing on average, and underperforming. Even if it's an all-star team doing great work, some folks will be marked as underperforming. Frankly, this really sucked. I know this practice gained popularity with GE in the 1980s and is being used by some (many?) Fortune 500 companies. Does your company do this? What's the best way to survive this type of system?"

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525 comments

Like nuclear war. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549019)

The best way to survive is not to play the game.

Re:Like nuclear war. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549221)

This story is a dupe from less than 12 yours ago [slashdot.org] .

Re:Like nuclear war. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549265)

The story is not a dupe, the original story was about Microsoft and it's staff ranking policy. This story is about someone who went through that experience and is asking slashdot readers what their experience was of surviving similar situations.

Easy answer for non-americans (5, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 2 years ago | (#40549021)

What's the best way to survive this type of system?

It's called a union.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 2 years ago | (#40549067)

Or bombing the car of the guy who proposed it.

But a union is better.

And if it comes to it, a union can hire the bomb guy.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40549311)

From what I've seen, unions only ensure than people end up not being fired even if they *are* completely useless, while paying them the same regardless of ability. It's not a solution, just a different problem. A sane company would just evaluate their employees and keep them (or not) based on their individual merits.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549363)

Unions grow in power where employee rights legislation falls short of what people expect. Unions become a problem when they start to see companies as being the enemy, rather than something they're in partnership with.

They are the solution of last resort, that people turn to when there is no other way to protect themselves.

The correct way to deal with problematic unions is to have reasonable employee rights legislation and maintain it for long enough that nobody cares about joining unions anymore.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (4, Insightful)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#40549461)

This is well said. Nobody wants a union, they add bureaucracy, inefficiency, and they cost their members dues, but that's where people are sometimes forced to turn when employee abuse gets out of control. They're not great, but they're better than the alternative.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (4, Insightful)

amck (34780) | about 2 years ago | (#40549383)

Get involved in the Union.

Seriously. Any powerbase will be abused.
Unions are democratic (or at least are supposed to be) representatives of their members. You don't get to stand back and do nothing, and pretend the unions doing silly things aren't you're fault or you're problem.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549431)

My company doesn't recognise unions, so it doesn't help.We stack rank. We have high performing teams and telling someone they got a low score doesn't correlate. Additionally, after successive rounds of redundancy we've left ourselves with all "top performers" in roles we "have" to keep. How can you stack rank that?

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (4, Interesting)

amck (34780) | about 2 years ago | (#40549491)

My reply had been to the GP, about union problems.

Anyway, if they insist on stack ranking, then hire (or transfer) someone in to be the bottom of the pile. Game theory is the only way to play silly games.

A previous boss of mine (in IT, an American employer) did something like this. Played internal politics and "transferred" someone from another group in the company (we shared our building with multiple groups from the same multinational). It was understood that the company would play silly games like this, and the person in question kept working for group B, but technically belonged to our cost centre, and was there as ballast to be made redundant when the 10% chop came around. He knew it, and was already working on his plan B (planning his own company, I believe, which would be ready the moment he got his redundancy money).

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (3, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | about 2 years ago | (#40549591)

There also has to be some strong blame pointed at HR as well. HR budgets for certain amounts of raises (rises) and firings. They do not care what it does for productivity and employee morale so long as they stay within their budget.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (5, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#40549397)

What's the best way to survive this type of system?

A race for the bottom.
If everybody performs badly, they still have to label some as overperformers.

Re:Easy answer for non-americans (5, Insightful)

TimeOut42 (314783) | about 2 years ago | (#40549551)

I agree, unions are awesome. I allows mediocre employees to receive the same compensation as the excellent employees.

How to survive (5, Insightful)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 2 years ago | (#40549023)

"What's the best way to survive this type of system?"

Find another job where they treat you as a human being.

Re:How to survive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549047)

This. A hundred times this. So many times I hear people complain about their situation and how they can survive it. When the easiest and most powerful option is to just walk away from it. What's the point of just surviving it. If you want a better work environment. Look for one or create one. It's possible, people do it all the time. You just have to want it. If you don't then suck it up and live with the crap.

Re:How to survive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549093)

This. A hundred times this. So many times I hear people complain about their situation and how they can survive it. When the easiest and most powerful option is to just walk away from it.

Sure, people can just forget silly things like bills, student loan payments, medical insurance, and hell even food. A lot of people simply can't afford to quit or look for a new job (I know, and have worked for, some employers who would initiate termination if the found out one of their employees was seriously considering moving to a competitor).

What's the point of just surviving it.

Surviving is good. Surviving means your alive. Often times the only real choice people have is to survive.

If you want a better work environment. Look for one or create one. It's possible, people do it all the time. You just have to want it. If you don't then suck it up and live with the crap.

Bullshit. First off most people don't have the capital needed to even think about starting their own corporation (which is what your implying). Second off, even if they did have the capital starting out any new business is VERY risky. Doubly so in this market. It wouldn't make economic sense for most people to try and start a business when your already competing with juggernauts. People would lose everything.

Lastly, it simply wouldn't work if every one had their own company. No one person can run a company, you need other people to assist and preform daily activities, but once you do that you're in a position to be the bad guy, and the cycle starts all over again.

Re:How to survive (2)

Nursie (632944) | about 2 years ago | (#40549219)

If you're working for MS then you have options beside "suck it up" and "starve in a stinking pit"

Re:How to survive (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#40549235)

I know, and have worked for, some employers who would initiate termination if the found out one of their employees was seriously considering moving to a competitor

That's surely a sign that you really need to leave! Look for other jobs. Apply by email. Don't answer the phone at work at all.

Re:How to survive (4, Insightful)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40549335)

Ever seen zebras (or other animals, but I like zebras ^^) cross a river in Africa? They pile up, the alligators wait, then some zebras start crossing, at which point all zebras try to cross as quickly as possible, while alligators pick a few off (like eating zebras in a river). End result? A few dead Zebras; instead of all of them dead, because they were stuck on the wrong side of the river. If each zebra did what you consider the smart thing to do, they'd all die.

And guess how even the pitiful rights employees have today were achieved for the most part? By people taking risks for what is right, instead of being part of the pressure against others by not doing so. That's right; because if NOBODY would take shit, employers would have no choice but respect their workers, or they would have none. But as it is now, they can choose from a huge pool of spineless, shortsighted people. (shortsighted because the trouble with selling your soul is that it doesn't end up making anything easier or better)

Surviving is good. Surviving means your alive.

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."

-- George Orwell

Often times the only real choice people have is to survive.

"Freedom is what we do with what is done to us."

&

"Whenever a man chooses his purpose and his commitment in all clearness and in all sincerity, whatever that purpose may be, it is impossible for him to prefer another. It is true in the sense that we do not believe in progress. Progress implies amelioration; but man is always the same, facing a situation which is always changing, and choice remains always a choice in the situation. The moral problem has not changed since the time when it was a choice between slavery and anti-slavery."

-- Jean-Paul Sartre

Lastly, it simply wouldn't work if every one had their own company.

Yet that, family businesses if you will, is how everything started out. Seemed to work just fine when we though the moon was something to eat, and sacrificed virgins to placate volcanoes and whatnot. I can totally see why it wouldn't work today though! No, wait...

The system is designed broken and creates shortage, so change the system. But don't you fucking dare say the natural order of things is slavery, and that man can only exploit man. Speak for your fucking self.

Re:How to survive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549485)

Steve Jobs had a better system. He would just fire employees on a whim and Apple is the biggest capitalised firm on the NYSE.

Re:How to survive (1)

u38cg (607297) | about 2 years ago | (#40549123)

If you work at a company where innovation is seen as a good thing, it's not impossible to form a working party and produce a mandate for change. Involve HR, produce some case studies, dig out some research, and present it to the board. If doing this wouldn't fly, start making phone calls.

Re:How to survive (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#40549251)

Well I can get to the board because I work for a very small company where the entire workforce could sqeeze into the boardroom, but how does somebody that has been working for less than a decade in a place with thousands of employees and an insane ten or more level structure get anywhere near the board?

Network. (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 2 years ago | (#40549563)

Network.

Find the smarter people who are better-connected than you, ask if they know why your idea is dumb. Get them thinking about it. Let it percolate.

Re:How to survive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549427)

My employer sets these game rules. If effect this puts you in competition with your colleagues. A good alternative to improving your performance to be above them is to trip up your colleagues. I always highlight my team colleagues mistakes, I never help them out of a hole, I try to instigate their failure. I have never been ranked in the bottom 10%.

anon.

Tell 'em where to stick it (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549031)

If you've got some serious skills, tell them to stick it and go work for a smaller company that's been around a while. Right now it's an employee's market so to speak with respect to certain technology skills (I've been off the market over a year and still get 10+ recruiters calling me a week, and I'm not all that great at all!). My thinking is that you've got more choice than they do, and that after you and hopefully everybody reading this reply, and then some, tell their HR departments that this kind of performance review bullshit is why you're leaving, things may eventually change.

If employers start seeing their very-hard-to-replace talent walk out the door because of draconian, 30+ year old management paradigms, they may be forced to change.

Get even (5, Funny)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 2 years ago | (#40549035)

1. quit job
2. build start-up
3. ???
4. Profit!
5. hire jerks that gave you bad stack result
6. treat them stack performance game
7. Revenge!

obvious answer (0)

chentiangemalc (1710624) | about 2 years ago | (#40549037)

be in the top percentile, then no problem. duh. you just have to over-achieve compared to the rest of your team. i guess for some people that's motivating, for other's it is not. but it seems to be pretty common across large enterprises.

Re:obvious answer (1, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 2 years ago | (#40549049)

Only it doesn't work, because this type of system ensures that only the top percentile remain in the team in the long run, meaning that last year's top performances become this year's average target.

In short, if you're an overachiever, you'll raise the bar for everyone else, including yourself. It's a self-defeating system.

Re:obvious answer (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#40549065)

You don't raise the bar for everyone. The median remains the same no matter what happens at the extreme.

Re:obvious answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549571)

In this fortune 500 company I work at, the boss said he WILL raise the bar for everyone and that's why he does it.

Re:obvious answer (0)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#40549103)

And that is most likely exactly what the PHBs want.

Re:obvious answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549161)

Only it doesn't work, because this type of system ensures that only the top percentile remain in the team in the long run, meaning that last year's top performances become this year's average target.

In short, if you're an overachiever, you'll raise the bar for everyone else, including yourself. It's a self-defeating system.

And that is most likely exactly what the PHBs want.

Is it really? It's nice to have brilliant people on your team but brilliant over achievers are a rare commoditiy. In the real world most of the heavy lifting is done by average people. What the PHBs want is to sift out enough of the best among the average achievers with as many overachievers as possible mixed in to fill all vacant positions at the lowest possible pay rate. The PHBs will also display a marked preference for people who have little idea of what their skills are worth in $$$ and who will put up with being abused by management because defending yourself against abuse is "socialism".

Re:obvious answer (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40549313)

In short, if you're an overachiever, you'll raise the bar for everyone else, including yourself. It's a self-defeating system.

Nope... only need to run faster than the some of co-runners, no need for over-running the tiger.

(I can't believe I wrote the above, even if "logically" sound. I refuse to compete with anybody else but myself... the colleagues are there to collaborate with them!!!)

Re:obvious answer (5, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#40549361)

Also, MS hires good people. If you are competing against other good people (not useless dolts), then it's hard to win on ability alone. It's far more effective to do a reasonable job, and suck up to your boss / make your boss look good / advertise your "achievements" to your boss's peers, etc.

Eventually, the people who are good at the game get promoted, and forget that the game is actually a bad thing. They start consciously rewarding people for playing the game (not getting fooled by it, but actually expecting their workers to game the system), and madness prevails.

Re:obvious answer (4, Insightful)

Fjandr (66656) | about 2 years ago | (#40549115)

Overachieving isn't guaranteed to get you a high ranking. It's a political game, much like popularity in a high school. It's not about how well you perform, it's about who you know.

Re:obvious answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549495)

The point, of course, is that by making employees compete you don't need to order them to give you free extra-contractual work (ie, routinely working hours longer than those advertised), they'll do it of their own accord in an attempt to score better. And that gives a ratchet effect. Possibly good for the company, if hours worked and what you're measuring is all you really care about, but a terrible economic decision (because the lost leisure time is almost certainly worth more than the extra production).

Re:obvious answer (4, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about 2 years ago | (#40549539)

This doesn't work though.

I can give you a real world example. My partner was a retail manager for a well known denim retailer, and was consistently the top in the country each year in terms of year on year growth no matter which store she was assigned to. The problem is only one manager was allowed to be graded 1 on a scale of 1 to 5 or whatever it was. She obviously deserved it as she was the one consistently performing the best, but this had issues.

If it was given to her year on year, the other managers felt they had no chance and just had no motivation to excel themselves because they were only going to get a 2 anyway - they could try really hard and almost do as well as her, but not quite, so why try when they'd get a 2 regardless? The worst part being these grades were linked to your annual rise, so no matter how hard you tried you'd only get a smaller rise against her.

So the management figured well hey, we need to motivate the other folks, so we'll give it to them for how hard they tried, rather than actual results, and so then it's my girlfriend who despite her stellar performance instead suffers and gets a lower payrise. Then she has no motivation to really continue to outshine, because she's not gaining anything for it, in fact, someone that performed worse than her is getting a better reward than she did.

Of course, the solution may then be to increase the number of people who get a 1, but then at that 1/2 boundary you have the EXACT same problem. Those who try real hard can never quite catch the top performers so are not motivated to do so. Really, the only solution is to instead rank people based on a sensible balance of effort and performance without any cap on how many can be deemed to be top performers. If you extend it to say 5 out of 30 people can have the top grade, then what happens when your survival of the fittest type management system gets the 6 best managers in the country in? well, the 6th one will fuck off elsewhere because they'll be getting shit on relative to the others. It'd be far better if all 6, or all 7, 8, 9, or 10 could get equal reward so that you retain the 10 best managers in the country, rather than stick yourself permanently with only the 5 best, letting the other 5 fuck off to your competitors.

The problem with your theory is that yeah, it works great for the top person, but what the fuck is the use in a system that means that 29 of your 30 staff just have no reason to be motivated? That's a complete failure of management.

I've personally not had a problem being in the top percentile myself, but I'd absolutely fucking hate to work under this system because it'd mean everyone around me was unmotivated meaning I'd be carrying the team - I want my coworkers to be motivated, I want them to do well, to be praised, to be given reason to care about their job, because that makes my life easier regardless of whether I'm a top performer, or a bottom performer.

At the end of the day these braindead systems exist because of inept managers who are either hiring the completely wrong people, or don't have the balls to tell someone truly inept, lazy, or incompetent that they're fired. These managers either can't actually figure out how well their staff are performing, or how competent they are, or they can, but just don't have any spine to do what's required to deal with them, and so they give them this absolutely failure of a crutch to try and automate the process for them but it merely serves to destroy motivation of those who can perform by giving them reason not to.

If you hire good managers you don't need this kind of crutch, the good managers will know who deserves what praise and reward, and who needs to be fired.

Quit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549057)

You are an idiot. Don't put up with that shit. Vote with your feet and quit your job. Stop being a bitch.

Re:Quit (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 2 years ago | (#40549277)

Don't put up with that shit. Vote with your feet and quit your job. Stop being a bitch.

Or, depending on your region work opportunities and your physical appearance, start being one.

Change job, you cant win. (5, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 2 years ago | (#40549069)

The only solution is to get another job because you cant win. You can get higher up but by then all you really do is internal politics, stabbing your friends in the back and running around PR-campaigning for yourself. Work, not so much. If you really like politics, lies, distortion and stuff, get a job in politics instead of masquerading as a coder when you in reality is doing politics full time.

Re:Change job, you cant win. (4, Interesting)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#40549153)

Agreed. The only way to win is not to play.

I've just finished a job with what used to be a great company and more importantly with a great team with common sense (immediate) management (so no bullshit metrics). The whole atmosphere in the team was to share all knowledge, 100% cooperation, no competition. Holes in knowledge were filled very quickly, everyone loved work, and everyone ended up an over-performer. (So kudos to the recruiters for getting the right kinds of people who thrive in that kind of environment in on the project.)

I suspect I'll not find a company like that again, which is a real shame. (Having said that, the seeds of a start-up are forming...)

Re:Change job, you cant win. (1)

andruk (1132557) | about 2 years ago | (#40549347)

I'm looking to work for a startup (although I currently have a job). If you ever get up and going, hit me up for my resume.

Re:Change job, you cant win. (1)

Corbets (169101) | about 2 years ago | (#40549405)

I'm looking to work for a startup (although I currently have a job). If you ever get up and going, hit me up for my resume.

Really? He talks about the experiences he's had with a high-performing team, implying he'd like to get them all together to form a startup, and you think a random post on Slashdot without even a hint of your area of experience, let alone your qualifications, are going to get him to chase you down for a CV?

Man, you don't have to worry about the bell curve problem, you need to start with the basics. ;)

That's easy. (4, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 2 years ago | (#40549071)

1. create dummy identities in your team
2. make those dummies look underperforming compared to you (I know, this is the hard part)
3. next stack ranking comes, they get in the pool, so you are above average.
4. profit!!!

I believe this technique is called "stack overflow" and I bet it will work for microsoft for another 30 years at least.

Benner Model (5, Interesting)

pvt_medic (715692) | about 2 years ago | (#40549077)

I work in healthcare and the model often used is Brenners Novice to Expert. This looks at the development of an individual in their practice. While a great model since it allows one to compare themselves to themselves and looking for improvement, it also promotes team work. Of course this is a little difficult to apply many software firms. Another model is using a 1-5 scale, where 5 is exceptional, 1 is unsatistifactory, 3 meets criteria, 4 is exceeds criteria, and then they tally these for whatever metrics used and divide to get an average. Comparing staff to each other does not develop team work and only works in competitive environments like sales where you want people to outdo each other.

Yes, and it sucked! (5, Informative)

Madman (84403) | about 2 years ago | (#40549087)

At a former employer I joined a team that was under-performing. I worked hard to get things back on track and I did my absolute best. At my bonus meeting my boss told me that I had done a great job and I was the best performer on the team by far, but he had to give a certain number of people a good review, some a fair review, and one an under-performing review. He didn't do this by job performance but by length of service, and since I was a new guy he gave me the poor review so I got almost no bonus! After that I didn't work so hard....

Re:Yes, and it sucked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549135)

After that I didn't work so hard....

This should be a lesson to you: next time don't work so hard from the beginning.

Re:Yes, and it sucked! (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 2 years ago | (#40549285)

After that I didn't work so hard....

This should be a lesson to you: next time don't work so hard from the beginning.

Exactly. Make it impossible to underpay you; achieve negative productivity.

Re:Yes, and it sucked! (2)

dkf (304284) | about 2 years ago | (#40549163)

Performance review outcomes purely on the basis of length of service? That's abysmal! Sure sounds like you had a very good reason for making them your former employer. What a bunch of total jerks.

Re:Yes, and it sucked! (3, Interesting)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#40549191)

Oh, man, that sucks. At least it's a /former/ employer.

I remember a job 10 years ago when the "metrics" were rolled out one year. I had basically taken over the work from ~8 student workers, and had spent almost all of my time rewriting clumsy buggy code with tight maintainable code. In so doing, I was working at about -5 kloc/year. Therefore I was the "least productive" person remaining on the team. My manager laughed as he delivered the news. We laughed. However, my request for them to "stop even taking meaningless metrics" was met with "sorry, ain't ever gonna happen".

We just discussed this (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40549095)

Search for Microsoft's 'Cannibalistic Culture' a mere few hours ago.
And my company evaluates each person. Most people get an average score. Plus a standard inflation-based raise.

Grand poobah (2, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 years ago | (#40549101)

What's the best way to survive this type of system?

Set up your own religion like L. Ron Hubbard.You could also found your own Fortune 500 corporation but that's more work. Which ever path you choose it boils down to the same truth, if you are the grand poobah you don't have to perform, only punish your underlings for not doing so.

Gamify (5, Insightful)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 2 years ago | (#40549149)

Does your company do this?

Yes.

What's the best way to survive this type of system?"

Gamify. At my company, what makes things even worse is that to be considered in the top 20%, you have to show initiative and contribution *outside* of your core responsibility. This involves:

  • - Attend all social events. Even better if you can get yourself onto the organizing committee, because you will inevitably get to talk to various team members. Also, it is a really good excuse if you fail to deliver on your core responsibilities (which is inevitable if you want to maintain your "extra-team" influence.
  • - Start supporting a football (or whatever applies to your region) team, regardless of how dull and pointless you think sports is. Choose one that is doing well (you must look like a winner!), but not the same as the boss - you need to engage with him and show him how "independent" your thinking is. It is incredibly satisfying to have the boss, or the boss's boss, stand at your desk to discuss the weekend's results - and you are magically remembered later as a person that "contributes outside of your team".
  • - Always mention in the hallways to managers and developers from other teams how incredibly difficult your team's deliverables are, and how smart your team members (i.e. you yourself) have to be in order to simply be in it.
  • - Yeah, do get involved in other teams, but don't overdo it. Try to sit in on design sessions - then it looks as if you are part of the "solution", but you don't actually have to do the actual work. Leave those for the guys in the trenches who will get the "middle of the road" rating, because they are not involved outside of their teams. If the project goes badly, tactfully remind the boss that you did mention these risks during design, but the development team must have screwed it up somehow.

Whatever you do, absolutely never, ever get your head down for long periods and just get things done. That is the road to, at best, an "average" rating. You see, by doing your job well, you are simply doing what is expected of you. It does not matter how complex or easy your job is - no one knows or cares. All they see is someone doing their work.

Re:Gamify (5, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 2 years ago | (#40549225)

A 10 minute talk during your coffee break with your boss can influence your rating just as much as that report you've been working on for 4 months. Your boss will spend about the same time on both (10 minutes).

Re:Gamify (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 2 years ago | (#40549339)

Come on, you made this list and didnt include George Costanza's accidental discovery of just leaving your car parked in the parking lot 24/7? Your boss will always think you are at work

Re:Gamify (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 2 years ago | (#40549359)

Come on, you made this list and didnt include George Costanza's accidental discovery of just leaving your car parked in the parking lot 24/7? Your boss will always think you are at work

Haha, good one. A friend of mine has a similar one - always leave a coat hanging on your chair, for the same reasons.

Re:Gamify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549419)

This is so true, but it doesn't work if you're in a "global" company, where your jackass of a boss is in a different timezone, doesn't know how to use email, has a bimbo of an assistant who doesn't do her job and he never answers email unless it's from the CEO or another VP that he fears. Oh, and he never attends his own weekly staff meeting, so he can't approve the travel requests that you've put in to come schmooze with him.

Luckily I have enough FU money stashed away to just quit and do my own thing.

Why do they always lay off the bosses with common sense and keep the shitheads?

Re:Gamify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549617)

A few additions and elaborations:
-wrt to the sports, find a selection of teams that overlaps but doesn't mimic (the best is if you went to a school that has a sports rivalry with the boss's
-Learn to play golf well enough to not slow down a foursome, but not well enough to win on a regular basis.
-Always support your boss in public, even if it's just project group meeting. Register any criticisms privately after.
-Whenever you've been introduced to anybody in upper management, make a point of saying hello to them whenever you see them thereafter (and don't be embarrassed to re-introduce yourself as necessary). Find out a topic or two that will allow you to make small talk with them, say in the elevator. If you don't know, or are uncomfortable in making small talk, learn, it's a really useful life skill.
-As long as you're sitting at the table, no matter how deadly a meeting is, resist the urge to check your mail etc, regardless of who else is doing it.

How Does Your Company Evaluate Your Performance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549157)

poorly

Works great in a fast-growing organization (1)

drphil (320469) | about 2 years ago | (#40549203)

..but leads to really bad behaviors in a static or shrinking organization.

The large company I work for has just scrapped it after about 10 yrs when HR finally heard the pleas of managers.

Survival when the org is static or shrinking includes understanding what is the "currency" of your manager and *all the other managers* who have teams that are pooled with yours. Get known as a high achiever not just with your manager but the others. At least in our company there would be an annual meeting of those managers at some point to work out the rankings in there respective organizations to have the parent org come out to the required distributions. Horse trading ensues. Being known by your manager's peers helps you in that meeting.

Easy answer (1)

Zsub (1365549) | about 2 years ago | (#40549217)

Performance measurement is for sissies. Getting along with the boss/owner, that's where it at.

Avoid being black-mailed (3, Interesting)

Confused (34234) | about 2 years ago | (#40549231)

This might be a difference in work-place culture, but whenever I choose a job I always only considered the fixed salary part for comparison. If I was happy with that, the job is ok. If I need some bonuses to make a decent living, it was re-negotiation time. The nice consequence of this is, that I don't care much about the rigmaroles with performance reviews to decide on the bonus. That makes me very relaxed and whatever comes in is just a nice bonus and nothing I really need. In the end by not caring, I swim along with the average, but I still can tell them to get stuffed if the idiocy becomes too rampart. And being the one to stand up and voice what everyone is thinking sometimes makes you popular or someone to be consulted beforehand.

In the companies I worked for, the more formal and stupid the system was, the easier it was to gamble. I liked best the system with self-defined yearly goals, where the road to success was in the skill to formulate impressive sounding goals where the non-performance was hard to verify. Or to be part in projects that get shut down because of reorganisation before being delivered. That never got me top rates, but before going through the hassle of digging through the bones for some real data average success and bonus (or slightly above average, if I bickered too much about my valuable contributions) was assumed independent of the actual performance.

For me that gives the best results for a minimum of exposure to the whole idiocy.

Make your own company (0)

Bragi Ragnarson (949049) | about 2 years ago | (#40549237)

I walked away from my first and only full-time employer and established my own company. Now I have a 20+ programmer team, we are doing nice software for customers and we are building our own PaaS (shellycloud.com). I only employ people I like working with. No managers here :)

It is an system well adapted to microsoft (2, Insightful)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 2 years ago | (#40549275)

This ensure that the company only keeps burnt our overachiever and political sharks.
With a little bit of luck it'll drive them into the ground.

And anyway anybody working for microsoft deserves "advanced corporate management techniques" being applied to him or her.

My experience (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549289)

I've been on a company that follows this aproach

They had a fixed percentage to put into above the average, result:
- some years a few good people had an average evaluation -> good people get frustrated -> good people leave ...
- some years a few average people had a good evavluation -> good people that last year got an average evaluation get frustrated ...

They also had a fixed percentage to put into bad evaluation, result:
- some years a few average people had a bad evaluation -> average people get frustrated -> average people leave ...
- some years a few bad people had an average evavluation -> average people that last year had a bad evaluation get frustrated ...

From year to year there seems to be a group of good people, lets say 30%, that try to get into the 20% openings for "good evaluation" the result is 10% will always get frustrated and consider the system unfair because they consider themselfs above average.

Everyear, a lot of people (perhaps 40%) are not incentivated to fight for good performance because they are not good enough or not willing to sacrifice personal time/life to achieve that mark, nevertheless they are good enough to have an average evaluation, they just go with the flow ...
For these people the system has no impact whatsoever ...

All in all, the system seems to have some advantages but I'm not sure the advantes are greater than the disavantages.

How to survive?
What are you aiming for?
To be on the average evaluation, you usually don't have to do much, after all you must be better than the bottom 10% or 15% ...
To be on the above average evaluation if you are on a star project on the company and if you are good you have a good change to get a good evaluation, if you are on a marginal project, don't even try it you will have to work 2x has hard as someone on a star project to get a good evaluation.

And offcourse there are politics, some people will get a better evalution not based on performance but on social connections ...

Between the people that don't care if they get fired, the people that won't fight to get to the next evaluation level and the people that would fight to have a good performance even withough the system in place, this system is only having impact on 25% of the people.

Work is...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549299)

..... how well you and your manager get along!

Brown nose anyone that is above and and if possible, be the rat on anyone you work with in a politcal correct way!

You don't have to perform well if your manager is oblivious or when he favors you over others.

In modern working society you do not have to perform, as long as you can make it look like it.
Respond a lot on emails, follow the lines and all is good or make yourself valuable in a legacy system so that you cannot be replaced.

Besides that...... it is just hope that shit won't overfloat you if you do not work according to mentioned system.
I have been in many international companies (including Google) and as a tech this is what I learned!

We don't (1)

CHJacobsen (1183809) | about 2 years ago | (#40549309)

The company i work for doesn't really do performance reviews in the sense of giving a score. If you're good enough to remain employed after the trial period, management assumes you're capable of doing your job unless given a specific reason to reconsider. Since they know this, whenever an employee underperforms, management's initial assumption is that it's their fault. This has worked remarkably well, and employees overall stay significantly longer than the industry average.

We have regular evaluations, of course, but they are not comparative and mostly serve to give advice on how an employee can improve their job as well as giving credit for what they do well.

Re:We don't (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#40549581)

whenever an employee underperforms, management's initial assumption is that it's their fault.

This seems to make sense. A lot of the time, employees underperforming is the result of them not knowing what to do and not having a clear process to find this out. Management taking responsibility will typically solve this problem. The solution is to give more direct support to the employee.

Personally I find I'm a lot happier at work when I'm producing software that I know is beneficial to the end product. I like to feel useful. I also like to feel that I'm not going to become unemployed. If I'm doing something that seems unlikely. I assume most people feel this way.

Here's how we do it... (4, Interesting)

Balthisar (649688) | about 2 years ago | (#40549317)

I think we're still a Fortune 10 company... we manufacture consumer products globally, and have a global performance evaluation (PE) process. I will be as generic as possible in the terminology. Oh, I'm a manager who conducts PE's, and also a volunteer on the personnel development forum (PDF) for non-management personnel.

For PE's, we have a top-tier level that's limited to 15% of the eligible pool. In my department so far this year, we've not nominated enough people to meet that 15% (we're in a new region, and all of the local employees are new). Then there's 70% to 85% of people that are achievers. This bracket is slightly open because there's an allowance of 15% of under-achievers and non-performers. The key is, we're *not* forced to bracket anyone into the lower tiers. And like I said for the top tier, we're not forced to bracket people into that tier, either.

Our system makes sense. Not everyone can be a super-star; even when everyone is a super-star, there's always a small percentage that have a little bit of an edge. And because we're not forced to rank anyone as under-achievers, we recognize that even the weakest link might be carrying his or her weight -- and carrying weight (do your job) is all we ask!

To prevent abuse, all of the top 15% and the lower 15% (if any) all go to the PDF committee that I mentioned I'm in. There, my fellow managers and I review the proposals for the highest-achiever rankings, and we all have to agree. Basically, you can't screw your way to the top, or other methods of brown-nosing.

And as a low-level manager (organizationally-speaking), I'm subject to the same process at my pay grade. And I'm fairly happy with it.

Racing rats (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#40549333)

This pretty much guarantees a rat race.

Everyone tries to get ahead of each other. This can work, if the metrics are totally objective, but they rarely are. Even if they were, it's a high stress way of doing things. Only a certain personality type thrives under constant stress. These people will usually leave and set up their own business

Binary Contractor Performance Review (1)

jobsagoodun (669748) | about 2 years ago | (#40549371)

Being a (scumbag) contractor, my performance reviews are very simple and binary - a) all ok, please carry on/do new project b) not ok, goodbye!

360 degree reviews (4, Interesting)

brockamer (2677497) | about 2 years ago | (#40549401)

On my team, we use a sort of 360 degree review process. The people I manage meet with me and my boss on a quarterly basis, and we use the time basically to check in on any issues we've identified, check on any goals set in the last quarterly review, talk about training / certification progress, listen to any concerns they bring up with people / processes / environment, etc. At the end of the review, I leave the room and the employee gets to talk to my boss about me, without me in the room. Then I come back in, my boss leaves, and we talk about my boss without him in the room. My boss and I aggregate and anonymize the top 2-3 things that people mention about us, and that becomes a part of our reviews.

Count yourself lucky (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#40549413)

My firm does evaluations by making you take of your shirt you are then rated by the number of stripes on your back :(

Why do you care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549441)

The biggest question is why do you care?

If they're firing or setting salaries based solely on this curve, then sure, that sucks, but are they actually do that, or is this just to assist them as one component of performance evaluation over time?

If it's the former, then you're working for idiots, and you should leave.

Re:Why do you care? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#40549471)

That's my basic response.

If this matters to you, talk to your employer. If they push it through without taking on board your concerns - that's precisely how much you are worth to them.

That doesn't mean quit if they don't give in (that's up to you), but either they will listen and adjust (and thus, problem solved), or they will ignore EVERYTHING you do (and thus, lots of energy not wasted trying to get them to change).

Do you really think a huge company will just arrive at such a scheme overnight? Do you really think they will take kindly to you knowing better than whatever CEO instituted or approved that scheme? Do you really think they care that some people are marked as underachieving when they are not. If they did, they wouldn't have such a scheme already.

Make your concerns known (if you dare), and then suck it up. Either play the game or get out. That's a business rule that applies to 100% of such schemes, no matter what the size of the organisation. And the fact that you are in that position means that your predecessors and co-workers sucked it up when it was first proposed or they joined the company.

best way to survive (3, Informative)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40549467)

Within: Is to remember that the ratings are subjective. Make friends. Particularly make nice with the boss. Then perform competently so they have no reason to downrank you, while having reasons to rank you above the other competent people.
Without: Is to leave for a place that uses a sane management system. There are plenty. Some of them are eating Microsoft's lunch right now. People who are actually competent software engineers are in extreme demand right now, there's no shortage of jobs for that skillset. A recruiter can get you a list of a few hundred positions for you to choose from on a moment's notice.

Popularity (1)

dcrisp (267918) | about 2 years ago | (#40549475)

Probably the best way is to be popular within the group or at least NOT unpopular. As a popular person, your manager will see you as sombody who gets along with everybody else. This is espeically important in a "Star Team" group where all members are performing brilliantly. The manager will look at the people who get along and rate them higher than the people who are a little different. The manager will grade down the 'unpopular' staff because they always seem to be in conflict or the naysayers or such.

The above was my personal experience. I learnt pretty quickly in my career that I didnt really "fit in". whilst I got the work done I always got lower gradings on these kinds of things.

I would like to say that its something you can change but often its not somethign you can conciously change. Its your personality. it's who you are. there is no real changing of that. The reality is probably that the only way you could improve your rateing is move to a department where there are people less popular than you.

Hmm. wow that sounds really dodgey, doesnt it! :) Excuse me, I have to go and put in a job application that's just come up on the companys internal job board.

Get sacrificial lambs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549493)

When interviewing, look for potential team members with a poor work ethic, marginal technological aptitude, and bad interpersonal skills. The rest of the team will have to pick up the slack, but the lamb will get the bad rating for 2 years and be canned.

Assess the situation and act accordingly (1)

NilleKopparmynt (928574) | about 2 years ago | (#40549503)

The quick answer is quit as soon as possible. This would make the system not work especially well. The problem is that this approach is not taken by everyone so the real answer is to assess what is happening and maybe stay if there is a future for you. If there are good motivations for the bad review and a reward and recognition if you improve plus a fair and honest system then it might work.

If you realize that the reviews are based on other things than your performance and you are screwed no matter what you do then the only thing you can do is leave and leave early. This is because in a system like at Microsoft there is a big value in a person who accepts a bad review and still stays.

I used to work for Microsoft and my biggest regret is that I did not quit much much earlier.

It doesn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549533)

The best "evaluation" is that I don't overpromise sick schedules or deadlines, and my boss knows I'm very capable software engineer and trusts me and knows my skills. He also does his best not to interfere with my job, just like we (the engineers) don't go tell him how to deal with clients.

Occasionally he does give me responsibility to handling technical (and non-technical) stuff with clients without his supervision so I/we get to do something else once in a while than just code, and best "performance" for that are happy clients and succeeded projects.

To be honest, I wouldn't work in a place where the management doesn't trust their employees. Why did you hire people you don't trust in first place? This good trust and respect between the people in our workplace makes up a really good atmosphere to work in, and jobs get done efficiently because everyone is very proud of what they do, and know they get respected for it. Not mentioning nice bonuses like flexible working times (if you have personal things at some days to take care of, you can do it and make the hours back on some other day or sometime later).

In a nuthshell, the management is cut down to bare minimum in this company. Tip: the best places to work are small companies with 30 or less people - you get known personally to everyone, and likely make very good friends there too. Small, tight team also drops out a lot of stress to please some random middle-amangement guys and lets you fully concentrate on your actual work.

Quitters Sometimes Win (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549537)

Quit.

Quit Early.

Quit Often. (no wait, that doesn't make any sense)

Just Quit.

My old company used a stack ranking system and as others have said, it sucked. So I found a much better job at a much better company and it has worked out very well. When I left the old company I had an exit interview and I told HR straight out that the ranking system was a large part of my decision to leave. The woman interviewing me said she'd heard that a lot and I got the impression that HR hates it as much as the other employees due but it's coming from the very top. It's just a way for them to cut costs by guaranteeing that they don't have to give bonuses or raises to 25% of employees, regardless of performance. There's no way to win the game but you don't have to play.

Rotate the low ranking, like latrine duty (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40549559)

Most managers who I have worked for try to rotate the low ranking around. No one gets it often enough to come up on the HR radar. They were always happy to have a couple of people who knew that they were low performers, so that they didn't mind getting stuck with it every once in a while. And even the best folks can have a bad year over time. Think of it like pulling latrine duty.

The best managers I know foster an atmosphere where everyone's work counts the most, not a bunch of folks competing against each other. If I landed in a project where every single person had personal ranking as the top goal, I would get out.

Immediately.

No, not quite like that (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#40549561)

Most competence systems I've seen has a 1-5 performance rating where 3 is performing okay, 4 well and 5 exceptionally. On occasion there's a 2 for underperforming and very rarely an 1 which is basically fail but it's rare because you shouldn't get promoted to that level if you aren't already performing like one. That's usually reserved for total mishires or people who've had some kind of personal breakdown. Saying that X% of your workers are underperforming is saying that your hiring process fails X% of the time - that figure should be close to zero.

Of course before that there's usually a set of skills that your employment level should have, so the demands on a "Senior Developer" is different from a "Junior Developer". Usually these are set up in a competence matrix, so when they're looking at possible promotions they can say yes, you're coding at a Senior Developer coding level but you lack skill X which is required to be a Senior Developer. Skills development is related but actually quite distinct from your work performance, you can have done your job excellently but done very little to improve your skill set.

Sane companies also look at professional development, if you're a first year Senior Developer whose performance has improved but still is below average you're probably a better choice than the 5th year Senior Developer whose performance has declined and is now equal to yours, those two are connected. It was probably a better idea to promote him to an okay performing Senior Developer than for him to be an overachieving Junior Developer. That's another reason 5s are so rare, if you are that good you should be in a position with higher demands.

That said, when it comes down to it managers can pretty much manage to tweak the rating however they want. That said, even the worst of managers want to look good to their team/departments bosses and customers. If they know you're critical for them to deliver on time and in good quality, you'll survive most of the office politics. But without trying to kiss too much ass, make sure your boss knows what you're doing for him. Don't expect him to find out on his own.

The implementation is the problem, not the concept (2)

roger_pasky (1429241) | about 2 years ago | (#40549583)

Most of the problems raise when big numbers are translated to small teams. Probably, a 10% of a big corporation staff deserves to be fired, but that's not appliable to 10% of every team. Maybe several teams deserve to be fired alltogether (boss included) and some teams deserve an extra-bonus (ok, boss included), but the big numbers should achieve those global percentages.

Bad bosses apply the corporate percentages top down without changes because it is easier to manage and they can say "I'm not mean, it's the rule" but he is part of the problem. The spreading of the percentages should be distributed through the organization weightened according to the contribution of the teams and sub-teams, so there could be an uneven punishing policy, which is counterintuitively far much more fair.

Join a startup (1)

johnjaydk (584895) | about 2 years ago | (#40549595)

This kind of management stupidity can only thrive in a company that's able to survive despite it's management. That means reasonable large and mature.

Basically, You need a stable field to play games on.

Now a startup is unstable, fragile and rapidly tanks if people play games. Plus the whole ting is focused like a laser and causes players to stand out like a sore thump.

The question on where you'd thrive is really simple and depends on whether you're a player.

Try being a manager who has this imposed on you .. (3, Informative)

niks42 (768188) | about 2 years ago | (#40549599)

First-line managers who have to deliver against HR policies like this have my every sympathy. I was made a manager in a certain very large IT company. I managed a team of mixed fixed-term contractors, contractors and permanent staff. My manager came to me at the start of the new year to tell me that during the upcoming staff performance review, I had to make 15% of my permanent staff a 1 performer, 75% a 2 performer, and 10% a three performer. When I complained that I didn't have enough permanent staff of a low caliber (c'mon now, I was doing the hiring!), I was quite neatly told that if I couldn't make up the numbers from my workforce, then it would be OK as from his level he would meet his overall target for 3 performers by making ME one.

Actually, that's what ended up happening, not that any of my workforce found out about that 'deal'. I lasted a further four years of management in increasingly Kafka-esque circumstances until I decided that I should stop trying to rise up the ranks of management, give up and go back to being a techie. I've never regretted the decision, and I can sleep at night.

I don't know (4, Insightful)

mrsam (12205) | about 2 years ago | (#40549605)

I have no idea how my current employer does performance review. I haven't had to deal with performance reviews in over 15 years. This is one of the benefits of working as a consultant on a contract, and one of the things I don't miss about working as an employee.

I personally find consulting to be a more civilized, sane way to earn a living. My total compensation gets negotiated up front, for some prescribed period of time. Then, when the time is up, we just negotiate again(1). Simple. No fuss, no mess. You know how much you're making, and you don't feel shortchanged when the bean counters decide to cut down on some fringe benefit.

I guess that periodic contract extensions would count as a periodic performance review, of some sort. But there's no bureaucracy involved, and I don't need to dance like a pony, in front of someone. It's purely a business transaction, and nothing more.

The oft heard suggestion of unionizing is a joke. It's never going to happen. If you want to unionize, sure, but good luck to you. On the other hand, if you want to become a consultant, that can happen today. Your choice.

(1) Yes, I've went through an occasion of an 800lb corporate gorilla deciding, by fiat, to cut all their consultants' rates, for budgetary reasons, assuming that everyone is going to accept it and that they have no choice in the matter. As my then-managers discovered, that assumption was wrong. One of the other benefits of consulting, you see, is far fewer questions of what happened at your last job. Naturally, contracts come to an end all the time, and one's services are no longer required. Nothing wrong with that. Perfectly understandable, and expected.

evaluations (1)

Triv (181010) | about 2 years ago | (#40549607)

At my company, you write an evaluation for your manager in which you rank yourself as either needing improvement, meeting expectations or exceeding expectations on a variety of points, while your manager simultaneously fills out pretty much the same evaluation of you.

And then both evaluations are handed to a senior person in the office who doesn't actually know you that well or what you do, who gives you exactly the same, barely cost-of-living raise as everybody else he doesn't work directly with, regardless of what the paperwork actually said.

The disconnect is startling.

Lockheed Martin (2)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 2 years ago | (#40549619)

I'm an engineer for Lockheed Martin, and we're ranked via stack ranking, although your ranking isn't just against other people doing the same, or similar jobs to you, on the same team, it's also against random groups in other states that have no impact on your job. When I first started, seven years ago, we were only ranked against those people that were on the same team as us. As the system has evolved, LM has created 'Centers of Excellence' to bridge gaps between skill sets across geographical locations. Now, I'm an engineer in Moorestown, and I'm being ranked against information assurance people in Bethesda, systems administrators in Syracuse, and quality assurance personnel in Eagan, Minnesota, among other roles and locations. Further, LM has created an artificially wide distribution, such that, instead of the normal distribution's 68.2% of people falling within one st. dev. from the mean (a '3' or 'Successful Contributor'), more like 90% of people fall in that grouping. Thus, while there are fewer '4s' (Basic Contributor) and '5s' (Failing Contributor), it also means that there are fewer '2s' (Above Average Contributor) and '1s' (Exceptional Contributor). Since our merit increases are based on our ranking, it's exceptionally tough to get a better ranking, so pretty much everyone gets the standard increase. I don't know if this is to increase 'fairness' across the ranks, or what, but it sucks.

I work at a Tech company run by a salesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549621)

I'm one of the few people who work support for a web-based tech company. The boss is a former (and current) salesman and as the sales staff keep adding customers the number of support people are getting smaller as we quit without getting replaced.

Our metrics are pretty much the same as if we were sales people making cold calls : How many phone calls did we take and how many customers did we call back after they left messages.

It doesn't matter that in addition to tech support calls we also do hour-long webinar product trainings and remote installations that could take a few hours each. There have been days where I was doing back-to-back training all day and my phone call figures suffered. Why didn't these complaining customers get a call back from me? First off, most are calling every day about bugs that development has placed as an extremely low priority and secondly, I can only be on one phone call at a time. Yelling at the top of your lungs won't improve things.

Of course, he feels we have too many support people as it is and it's just a problem of mismanaging our time.

Get along with your boss (1)

s1mon75 (1738078) | about 2 years ago | (#40549625)

I have the pleasure of working for a very large multinational company which employ's over one hundred thousand people worldwide. The best way Ive found to ensure I get a 'positive' rating is primarily based on how well I get along with my leader. Ive had a 'below expectation' and 'exceeding expectation' while working in my current role. And I was working just as hard both times. One was conducted by an absolute fool, who was subsequently sacked and the other by a truly inspirational leader with whom I get along famously. In short, get along with your boss and you will always do well.

Ignore It, Tell Your Direct Report (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40549631)

When you have a four-eyes-Meeting with you boss, just tell him "I will ignore stack ranking and I will not care about my stack index. I will do good and hard work and if that is not enough, just fire me".
From that time on, you are out of the treadmill and you boss will know it. It will give you peace of mind and will remove that Kafkaesque thing out of your head. If they fire you, it might 100% be due to cost reducations and it will be justified by the "stack ranking". So again, ignore this shit.
In my experience, there is a sufficient number of companies and corporations around who don't play this shit. Of those who play it, many if not most will accept you ignoring the system. Good people cannot simply be cloned. If you are *actually* a bad performer you will be booted out anyway, if you are a good performer they will find some equally shitty rationalization why they keep you despite having a bad stack ranking. So to conclude, ignore the shit and have peace of mind.
Just don't advertise all of this when some higher-up comes around. You don't have to make them feel ridiculuous in the public. Then all will be fine, even if your handling of the Stack Ranking will become known to the chain of management (up to the CEO). These are sleazy businesspeople, not maths professors.

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