To defend or not to defend, that is the question!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by AsianStew, Feb 15, 2023.

  1. AsianStew

    AsianStew Moderator Staff Member

    No, I am not referring to your dissertation or thesis. Would you or would you not shoot yourself in the foot by defending an employee that's working really well with the team or is a high-performance member in your team?

    I just came across this article, there are many other corporations that operate with similar performance improvement programs, some of them are just to kick out the employee... I've never put myself in this situation before, hmm, I do wonder sometimes what I would do...

    Link: I was a manager at Amazon. My boss encouraged me to quit after I defended a high-performing employee who was about to get the lowest performance rating. (
    AVigil likes this.
  2. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    After reading the article, I figure the writer, likely unknowingly, "shot himself in the foot" by taking the job in the first place. He started the best possible healing process by quitting. I wish him well and hope he lands on his feet.

    FAANG companies are almost uniformly terrible places to work, as I see it. I've had phenomenal service and savings with Amazon. Everything from a great Swiss watch, to books I couldn't get locally, to a good discount on very high-end made-in-US guitar parts. It beats the crap out of relying on local stores.

    But I HATE the company. For reasons such as those outlined in the article. And other employee abuses. I have to brace myself and shut my eyes for a second or two, before I click the "buy" button. If there was a viable alternative to Amazon - I'd use it. But there isn't.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2023
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I teach performance management all the time (next week, even). No system is perfect and most are useless. What I teach is actually how to manage employees' performance. But rating systems? They're all horrible the moment they try to make distinctions among employees who are otherwise meeting expectations.

    If I had my way, performance systems would be "Go/No-go." Period. No grades, numbers, or attempts to use it to identify your top performers. Why would you do that? They normally provide only nominal impacts on salaries or meager bonuses. If you have someone to promote, promote him or her. Otherwise, encourage performance by paying competitive wages, providing good benefits, engaging your staff, and seeing to their well-being. Sure, monetary rewards work, too, but to a much lesser extent than do intrinsic motivators. (People get used to the money and come to expect it.)

    Systems that attempt to measure varying levels of success are notoriously unfair, biased, subjective, irrelevant, and horrible to implement. (They're a good study subject for CRT, though. In a bad way.)

    If employees are not performing satisfactorily, tell them. Ask, can they do the job and will they do the job? Then fix that. If they are, tell them and recognize them for it. But stop trying to make distinctions without differences. Nothing good comes from it.
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  4. AVigil

    AVigil New Member

    Unfortunately, this dilemma hits home both past and present. One of my managers from long ago ran into this issue and defended us. He was a self-made millionaire who worked for fun and had no problem telling management how he felt about this and other issues. He ended up losing his job and was scooped up by a competitor. I quickly left the company to pursue a different career, and several teammates went to the competitor with him. He always put staff first, and today they are all still working together after 15 years.

    My current manager is being put in this same position by HR, and I will find out in the next few weeks which way he leans. Unless the employee is exceptionally underperforming, HR wants the lowest-paid staff to get the highest rankings regardless of performance to help with employee retention. IMO - Using they are using the wrong tool to solve the problem.
  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I once worked for a company that had a 1-2-3 rating system. 1 meant unsatisfactory, 2 was satisfactory, and 3 was notable. For each rating period, employees were rated in approximately 15 areas, each with a comment box. Now, to give someone a 1 (unsatisfactory), you had to justify it in the comments. If you wanted to rate them a 3, same thing. But ratings of 2 didn't require comments, except in the summary at the end. You can guess what happened (maybe). Almost all employees got rated a 2 in almost all areas. With a dozen or more reports to write--all due at the same time--supervisors tended to go right down the middle with a bunch of 2s--no writing! Also, no real way to distinguish the high-flyers, not to mention the duds. But wait, there's more....

    This system was used to pay year-end bonuses. When the numbers were added up, the mean score was...wait for it...1.9. Yes, our average employee was below average! Some of the executives wanted to "zero out" their bonuses if they were near that number. I objected, describing how the system was biased (central tendency, to be specific). What about the 1.9? Well, some supervisors were so wanting to get rid of some of their employees that they sucked it up and did that writing to justify the 1 grades; fewer than bothered to justify 3s. The median grade was 2.3, so I asked that we use that and pay bonuses to the top half of the group, which the agreed to do.

    A lot of people did not get paid bonuses who'd earned them, and a lot more got paid who should not, all because the system encouraged more lazy supervisors to take a short cut. I had no say in the system--it was corporate-wide and affected some 30K workers. But it was the dumbest one I've ever seen, and I had military and civil service careers!
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