Microsoft Stops Ranking Its Employees

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pastorbob

I worked as an engineer for a company for fifteen years before they closed our plant and I changed careers. As a salaried employee I had an annual performance review which also determined the size on my annual raise.

The review examined ten KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) that dealt with job knowledge, work methods, communications, leadership, teamwork and so on. Overall the system worked well. There were never any doubts as to what was expected of me and how well I was doing my job. The overall goal for the entire company was to get quality product out the door in a timely manner so competition between departments was non-existent.

It was a good company to work for and the pay / benefits were among the best in the state. It was changes in the music industry and it's formats that brought our plant to a closure. Though the parent company jumped the gun since we were still profitable, they did see the writing on the wall and got out while the getting was good.

But I do miss those days.

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Granite

What I want to know is...is this website MaximumPC? Or is it MaximumBusiness?

How about getting back to some PC stuff, eh? Or is this a slow news period?

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Rift2

I bet all jobs at Microsoft are kinda comfy anyway =)
Make me CEO of Microsoft I won't judge anyone!!

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vrmlbasic

I'd always heard horror stories about how all the "real univesities" graded on a bell curve, where there would always be failures as there could never be as many passing grades as there were students in the class.

If I had worked at M$ I could have experienced what I haven't found in the academic world, the horror of getting (essentially) a 90 on a test and failing. because the mean is 95.

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legionera

Microsoft, steal from Google!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA54HWLZ2e4

And

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsnSBhWEyK4

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Scatter

How do large companies like Microsoft not see the problem with a system like this in the first place?

Edit: How did that happen (the double post)?

But anyways, rather than waste a double post, does anyone else feel that The Verge is one of the worst designed websites out there? The main page just has stuff thrown everywhere.

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Scatter

How do large companies like Microsoft not see the problem with a system like this in the first place?

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mbreslin

Same thing happened at Ford Motor Company, 1999-2003 roughly. CEO Jac Nasser got the idea from his idol Jack Welch at GE. It discouraged teamwork because everyone was competing against everyone else to avoid being rated "C" (being rated "C" two years in a row meant firing). Teamwork and cooperation went right out the window, as did any company loyalty left. It made @$$-kissing a high priority in order to avoid the feared "C" rating. It utterly destroyed employee morale.

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Mark17

At the small company I used to work for, the CEO had a major hard-on for Jack Welch and would have company wide meetings basically praising Welch as some sort of management visionary. He would tell his 50+ employees how he's going to implement this system and rank all of them. And how he's going to weed out the under performers. At one point, I was ranked as one of the "top" performers, and yes, I got the heck out there shortly after. The guy was an utter moron, and couldn't see through his own stupidity. Of course, he was always too busy screwing off somewhere like the golf course, instead of actually performing the duties of a competent CEO. The company was also plagued by poor management, and as someone who worked closely with many of the employees, it was rather unfortunate because there were a lot of good employees with so much wasted potential.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

In Indiana (the asshole of America), the state government does the same crap with teachers. It leads to a lot of in-fighting, back biting, and lousy morale—exactly what state leaders want. I'm sure working for Microsoft sucks ass, but teaching is far worse.

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vrmlbasic

Another reason for a school voucher system. By allowing more business to go to private schools, aka schools which have a chance at actually being decent, those schools have the capability to hire more teachers away from the horrid public education system.

I'd say that this might inspire the school system to remove its ranking system but we all know that bureaucracy doesn't work that way.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

You don't actually understand how those voucher schools operate, do you? Folks outside education are egregiously misinformed. Right-wing propaganda is powerful voodoo.

Anyone can operate a voucher school, and it shows. Most voucher schools perform worse than public school counterparts. As they operate for profit, these schools pay teachers far less than would local public schools, so what kinds of teachers do you image they recruit, by and large? Logically, morale and turnover are horrendous.

What the public fails to recognize is that these programs were never intended to improve public education. They were intended to destroy it.

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vrmlbasic

Sounds as though you're the one suckered by the propaganda. Private teachers aren't browbeaten into the useless teachers' union so naturally the fat cat union leaders and their ilk are spreading anti-free market propaganda.

If a private school sucks, you send your kids to a better one and the crappy one improves or dies. Free market FTW. I'm tired of having my money taken from me and thrown at a corrupt school system which only gets worse each year, an institution where learning is secondary to maintaining certain criteria to get the most federal and state assistance money; at the best, all these public schools do is teach to the state assessment tests. Baltimore City Public Schools = fail, but no one is surprised considering the Baltimore City jail system's corruption (a national embarrassment).

Public School's corruption, courtesy of the Dept of Education, is why a high school diploma is completely useless today.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Suck those Rush Limbaugh teats much?

You have absolutely no idea what you're even saying.

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legionera

Well, if you think about it, education is pretty important. An evaluation of the teachers is actually needed, otherwise schools will end up full of slackers, and children without basic idea of the world.

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TheITGuy

America's education system is atrocious and, there does not need to be any sort of evaluation system. Instead of producing cookie cutter drones that regurgitate the same shit over and over, we should teach kids how to think and not what to think. Nowadays it's just about passing a standardized tests and nothing more. That's part of the reason America is falling behind in education compared to the rest of the world.

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vrmlbasic

Teach kids what not to think? Brainwashing HO!

In public schools, "critical thinking" is defined as "how to be critical of anything you were 'taught' to knee-jerk disagree with"; actually forming a reasoned stance on an issue is not the objective.

Just as teaching mathematics is long dead. Why bother actually teaching the math skills when you can just teach them which buttons to press on the TI-84+ calculator to find the answer? I bet TI loves its monopoly on graphing calculators in public schools and its price-inelastic demand for them; if you don't pay the 100 bucks for a calculator, your kid doesn't "do math" nowadays.

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MrHasselblad

...That's part of the reason America is falling behind in education compared to the rest of the world...

To be more accurate... That the united states of america has already fallen behind quite the number of countries, yet still continues to fall. Any wonder why the united states is still even in G8 status, but not for long.

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legionera

Why are you saying this in a PC forum? Go fight for your rights American!

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Go rake sand.

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legionera

@RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

The only productive way to use a chromebook. Comes with plugins - an android phone. =D

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hornfire3

i don't work at M$ (too young atm) but i didn't know about a "ranking system" inside. That must've explain the recent corruption/chaos over the infamous Windows 8/WP8 fiasco. At least, I'm glad that's removed.

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legionera

MaxPC, will you do a review or at least cover Dell's Venue 8 pro? Ppl say that it is amazing.

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Morete

I don't think that there's a perfect system. Obviously their past system wasn't good by any means. But either way, there still is going to be favoritism. Good ideas and innovations by individuals can still be brushed away out of sheer favoritism towards certain employees based on social status, race, sex or known personal beliefs. There is still a lot of politicking that will be going on between employees, subcontractors and administration. As usual in most corporations, the squeakiest wheel will probably get greased whether their ideas and work ethic are good or not good at all.

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ThomasLG

I'm a professor of Computer Science. Grading on a "bell-curve" (a Gaussian, or normal-distribution curve) is a bad idea. The curve models infinitely-variable, totally random phenomena. If MS is hiring bright people, then there are no idiots to occupy the bottom part of the curve, yet people will get thrust in there anyway, because someone has mis-applied a statistical tool. Same thing with my students -- once they've passed our admission standards, we've effectively eliminated the bottom part of the curve -- the "minus-two-sigma" people simply aren't IN our program, so there's no reason to decide that for everyone who receives and "A", the same number of people must need to receive an "F".

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Cleaver

Employees were "ranked" ?

That by itself might serve as an explanation for all the shitty things Microsoft has done in recent times. I cann only imagine the employee-level sabotage that must have happened, which in turns would cause good ideas to get stamped out until Microsoft ships a sub-par product.

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Mikey109105

Cleaver, I completely agree with you on this. Until I read this article, I had no idea Microsoft was "ranking" it's employees.

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John Pombrio

I always LOVED my review at HP. I had 8 bosses over the years. Every year, same old stick. "What are your goals for the coming year?" is about as lame as asking "what do you want to be when your grow up". My answer was the same for both, "taller". So I would just make up the same old BS that I trotted out the years before. Then there was the round robin reviews were you rate your teammates. THAT went over really well. Ranking is just a management power play to keep employees in line and not cause trouble. I never worried a bit about it and that led me to getting my last boss losing his management job and me laid off a month later.

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jonnyohio

I worked for a call center years ago that did the stupid goal setting thing every month. It was a great job but that is why, ultimately, I made the decision to leave. I just couldn't deal with that level of stupidity in management where they couldn't see the obvious flaw in that sort of system. They rated your calls and calculated scores and then asked you what goal you wanted to set for the next month. I quickly realized that if I did the best I could do eventually it would look bad if I repeatedly failed to reach my goals...because this actually played a part in my annual review and determined if I got a raise. So I would purposely fail to reach my goals a couple times in a row to keep the bar set low so that I could get the pat on the back the following 2 months when I met my goals. It was so lame to sit there and discuss with someone how I could do better on calls, especially when the reality was I always helped everyone as best as I possibly good and I can count on one hand how many people hung up un satisfied. We were one of the highest rated customer support centers in the nation. What I liked about it is that the company allowed us flexibility when helping the customer...we could literally bend over backwards for a customer to help them out without management approval. If it were not for them over focusing on stats and goal setting, it would have been a great job to hang on to.