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How Adobe Got Rid of Traditional Stack-Ranking Performance Reviews 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the rate-yourself-on-a-scale-from-excellent-to-awesome dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Bob Sutton reports that in 2012 Adobe moved from yearly performance rankings to frequent "check-ins" where managers provide employees targeted coaching and advice. There is no prescribed format or frequency for these conversations, and managers don't complete any forms or use any technologies to guide or document what happens during such conversations. They are simply expected to have regular check-ins to convey what is expected of employees, give and get feedback, and help employees with their growth and development plans. 'The aim is to give people information when they need it rather than months after teachable moments have passed,' writes Sutton. Donna Morris, Adobe's senior vice president for People and Places, says her team calculated that annual reviews required 80,000 hours of time from the 2000 managers at Adobe each year, the equivalent of 40 full-time employees. After all that effort, internal surveys revealed that employees felt less inspired and motivated afterwards—and turnover increased. According to Sutton, Adobe's bold move seems to be working. Surveys indicates that most Adobe managers and employees find the new system to be less cumbersome and more effective than the old stack-ranking system where managers must divide employees into groups — for example, maybe 15 percent of people can be assigned the highest rating. 'That goes against our core value of being genuine,' says Ellie Gates, director of management effectiveness at Adobe. 'Our goal should be to inspire people to do their best work.' Since the new system was implemented, voluntary attrition has decreased substantially, while involuntary departures have increased by 50% because the new system requires executives and managers to have regular 'tough discussions' with employees who are struggling with performance issues—rather than putting them off until the next performance review cycle comes around. 'It is reducing unnecessary cognitive load, while at the same time, nudging managers to engage more often and more candidly with direct reports to help them develop their skills and plan their careers,' concludes Sutton. 'It also bolsters accountability because managers have far more responsibility for setting employee compensation than under the old system.'"
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How Adobe Got Rid of Traditional Stack-Ranking Performance Reviews

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  • I'll keep saying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigDaveyL (1548821) on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:09PM (#46187269) Homepage

    Stack Ranking only works on a short term basis where you want to trim the fat.

    If you do it for too long, two things happen (a) you start cutting into good performers (b) people will not collaborate to make others look good

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DaTrueDave (992134) *

      Stack Ranking might not work long-term, but the moderation at Slashdot has worked long term. Let's not give it all up by moving forward with the beta site.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cellocgw (617879)

      Absolutely. There are ways around the problem that top management claims exists, i.e. that every manager will claim his group is better than the other groups (which is why they believe in small-group stack ranking). It takes a lot of effort, and a dedication to cross-team performance evaluations, root-cause analysis as to why one team may have had better schedule or cost performance than another, but it could be done. But given that most corporations consider it a workplace violation for peons to exch

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        I've never heard these phrases before: " Since the new system was implemented, voluntary attrition has decreased substantially, while involuntary departures have increased by 50%". what's an involuntary departure? getting canned? separately, what hoops do you have to jump through to fire poor performers in California without getting sued? some people around me could definitely use an involuntary departure. ahh, if I were the boss man...

    • by McGruber (1417641)

      Stack Ranking only works on a short term basis where you want to trim the fat.

      Regarding the next performance ranking time at Dice, when someone will need to be scapegoated for the Beta Clusterfuck:

      Who will Alice Hill [linkedin.com] "stack-rank" into unemployment: samzenpus, Soulskill, timothy, or Unknown Lamer?

      Or all four of them?

    • Stack Ranking only works on a short term basis where you want to trim the fat.

      If you do it for too long, two things happen (a) you start cutting into good performers (b) people will not collaborate to make others look good

      Plus, this is Adobe. They probably had to give up after HR was the victim of 15 stack-smashing attacks in a row.

    • by chispito (1870390)

      Stack Ranking only works on a short term basis where you want to trim the fat.

      If you do it for too long, two things happen (a) you start cutting into good performers (b) people will not collaborate to make others look good

      What Adobe's talking about shouldn't be revolutionary. They're just formalizing good management technique. I'm fortunate to have a great manager that already provides and accepts this kind of ongoing, timely feedback. That we have to also do the annual, stack-ranked review process is, well, unfortunate.

    • Stack Ranking works forever. Just like Downsizing. It's like printing money. It's infinitely scalable. Furthermore Stack Ranking is sustainable -- indefinitely. Any MBA could have told you that.

      And as for your talk of "good performers" those are just the creative people who upset the apple cart and don't fit into the mold properly. The worker units are all supposed to be interchangeable like spark plugs. You run them until you burn them out, then throw them away. Geez, have you even been to busin
    • by eulernet (1132389) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:33PM (#46188159)

      If you do it for too long, two things happen (a) you start cutting into good performers (b) people will not collaborate to make others look good

      You are wrong.
      As soon as stack-ranking is used (and not after "too long"), it shows that the individual performance is more important than the group's performance, so collaborating goes against your own interest.
      Once everybody is focused on his own agenda, the best performers are getting tired by the competition and thus quit their job to a better living place.

      Basically, stack-ranking encourages selfishness.

      • You might appreciate this documentary, if you haven't already seen it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

        • by eulernet (1132389)

          Interesting, but in companies, it's difficult to encourage altruism when the management is selfish.

          In our culture, the individual is considered superior to the group, but in Saudia for example, I was surprised to discover that the family was more important than its individuals (of course, people expect that their effort towards their family will be rewarded).

      • When BOTH are true ?

        Stack-ranking is *perfect* for a corporate situation where short-term results that make upper level managers look good enough before they move up the ladder and cash-out is desirable to said management.

        Of course, this is done at the expense of everyone else, but hey, THAT'S AMERICA.

        He's not wrong. And neither are you !
        • by eulernet (1132389)

          I said that he was wrong on the delay.
          I don't disagree, since we are saying the same thing, except that I explained how it works on a personal level ;-)

      • by bbsalem (2784853)

        If Stack Ranking encourages selfishness, a Prisoner's Dilemma situation, that that fits right into the way most people do business, especially when they have to reduce their work force. The shift of paradigm can come very quickly. A Company can go from being a Masses of Asses operation, not able to hire fast enough, to just the opposite in a couple of years, thanks to the short investment leash most managements are. Stack Ranking appears quickly just has the back channel to whistle blow on the chain of com

        • by eulernet (1132389)

          I agree with you: the paradigm can change very quickly.
          The problem is that in order to succeed, you need teams.

          How could you encourage teams when you use stack ranking ?

    • by richlv (778496)

      but what about static website without comments ? that would be slashdot beta, of course ! ;)

    • by synapse7 (1075571)

      But how did they get rid of Beta?

    • Look to the left of you... Look to the right of you...

      These are not your friends. They are your competition.

      My workplace seems to be devolving to this base level (not that we have these kinds of reviews). Why would I contribute anything positive to your project when I may be competing against you on a continuous basis? In fact why wouldn't I try my best to torpedo anything you do in hopes of increasing my own position.

      Not that I do that, which is probably why I am still a peon, but it is the sense I have b

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bobbied (2522392)

      Stack Ranking only works on a short term basis where you want to trim the fat.

      If you do it for too long, two things happen (a) you start cutting into good performers (b) people will not collaborate to make others look good

      I'm not so sure those are the only two options. Like any system that ranks employees performance, it's all about what you are actually measuring in the ranking system. If you consider "collaboration" important and have a way to measure it that works, then I can assure you that employees will respond with more of it.

      The issue is that most companies don't want to take the time to design performance rating systems where they are actually measuring what they really want. So they resort to using short cuts o

      • I get what you are saying, but it basically forces you to reluctantly collaborate, not collaborate because it is a Good Thing (tm). It's like the taxes you pay aren't charity in the strictest sense of the word.
        • by bobbied (2522392)

          But my point is that you get what you pay for as an employer. I.E. You get the performance you measure. If your employees start to collaborate because they get bonuses for it, GREAT, assuming that's what the employer wanted. If an employer doesn't measure the right things and pays bonuses for things they really don't want, who's fault is it?

          I'll tell you though, few employers actually take the time to measure the right things. That's why we end up with huge bonus payouts to executives who just presided o

    • it is still really shortsighted anyways, because you might end up with a top performer that's going through a temporary rough patch (divorce, health issues, ...) and they could get caught and let go when if the company stuck with them a bit longer they would reap the benefits. I remember some time ago reading a comment here on a previous discussion on reviews where the manager stuck for this employee (who was going through a divorce iirc) and a year later and for many years afterwards they ended up being ex

      • When I read this article and read that 'involuntary departures went up by 50% because there are more frequent "tough discussions"' it makes me feel like this could easily degenerate in a climate-of-fear where if you have an off month you might end up being let go, a yearly review is not optimal but short-term dips are obviously more easily counterbalanced by good productivity the rest of the year when the issue was resolved, not to mention if you have yearly reviews on record for several years it becomes it more obvious when dips are temporary or there is an underperforming situation (which might not be the employee's fault, could simply be an issue of not having the right person in the right job or vice-versa).

        I think you hit a good issue that has to be addressed. I think you need to be able to determine when there is a dip and take it on a case by case basis. Your divorce example is a good one. I think IF management knew that you may have a month or two off, they actually have the context and could give you the support you needed BEFORE any problems occur.

      • And I wondered if the decrease in "voluntary departures" (e.g., "I quit") was a simple consequence of the increase in "involuntary departures" (e.g., "You're fired").

        Or the state of the job market could be affecting the "voluntarily departing" crowd's decision to wait a bit before their announcing their departure.

    • Exactly!

      Aren't you as manager supposed to hire an "all-star team" to begin with?

      Let's say I'm doing my job as a great manager and only accept the best people that mesh well with the team; then why the hell should I be artificially forced to get rid of X % of my good employees??

      Short term thinking indeed.

    • Absolutely!

      Instituting Stack Ranking at a company is a prelude to severe layoffs.

      When Stack Ranking is instituted, you should immediately put your resume out and start looking for a new job.

      Speaking from experience! MANY of those who didn't notice that at Sysco were shocked by massive layoffs (90% of the staff) and transfer of the work to indian staff.

      They have some NEW trick where they pay the indian staff indian wages and the indian staff is only tecnically "visiting" the U.S. They can stay for 6 months

    • by waveman (66141)

      ... and everyone becomes obsessed with politics and 'visibility' - because those who do not are out the door.

    • by Alomex (148003)

      Stack ranking also works if you aim for a 1% trim rate instead of a 10% rate. In a 100 workers it is not hard to find a bad hire or a previously good now demotivated worker, and the average folk need not fear. Of course one should be able to let underperformers go without any target rate, but in practice many people find it really hard to fire someone unless told they have to.

      • I would agree with this assessment. It works if the sample you're looking at is big enough, and you're not looking to cut 10% or some non-trivial percentage.
  • Immature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cat (19816) on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:13PM (#46187321)

    Stack ranking is for managers who are not grown-ups.

    Train your people. Teach them to improve. Defend them while they learn. Make them better and they will make the company better.

    If you are in charge and something goes wrong, it's your responsibility. It's your fault. And if it isn't your fault, it's still your fault because you're the manager.

    You are responsible. 100% of the time. No exceptions.

    Take responsibility for your job and do your job. Train your people. Take care of your people. Grow up.

    • by tFunc (2618093)

      Stack ranking is for managers who are not grown-ups.

      Train your people. Teach them to improve. Defend them while they learn. Make them better and they will make the company better.

      If you are in charge and something goes wrong, it's your responsibility. It's your fault. And if it isn't your fault, it's still your fault because you're the manager.

      You are responsible. 100% of the time. No exceptions.

      Take responsibility for your job and do your job. Train your people. Take care of your people. Grow up.

      Well said. Wish I still had mod points for this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Defend them while they learn.

      This. One of the best managers I've ever worked for used to say "My job is to go into meetings and deal with the bullshit so that you don't have to." His only criteria was that for it to work, we had to be honest with him and tell him what was going on. We knew we could trust him with that information, he knew we were being honest, everybody was happy.

      Oh and he never, ever, micro-managed. You were given a task, you were given a timescale or deadline, and you were trusted to d

    • Agreed.

      Also, Stack Ranking sends the wrong message to employees.

      It tells employees that they are an liability instead of an investment. Oh, gee, we forgot to include the cost & time of training their replacement. /Sarcasm Nah, that can't be a valid factor to consider. Talk about the cliche "Cut off your nose, to spite your face".

    • Hereabouts, most managers (all that I spoke to, at least) hated stack ranking just as much if not more as developers, when we still had it. Because they were the ones having to explain people why they were ranked in the low bucket when they did a good job.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:16PM (#46187349)

    Because this could explain why the Adobe software I used in the 90s and early 2000s (e.g. Premiere) was such a crash-ridden heap of bugs.

    • Because this could explain why the Adobe software I used in the 90s and early 2000s (e.g. Premiere) was such a crash-ridden heap of bugs.

      As a Premiere user since 6.1 (and not switching from 6.5 until PPro 2.0), I too am grateful that the requirement of setting auto-save to every five minutes is, for the most part, behind us. However, as much as Adobe gets to shoulder plenty of the blame, consider the state of computers during that era...

      My church bought a turnkey video editing system for about $7,000 back in 1998. It had a 733MHz P3 processor and 192MBytes of RAM. Those are essentially rounding errors by today's standards. Since IDE drives m

    • by waveman (66141)

      > such a crash-ridden heap of bugs.

      Luxury. My rich cousins have that release. Ours was much worse, perhaps because we live in a hole in the road.

      On my Android it takes 20 seconds to display a page on the pdf file I am reading at the moment. 2014!

  • Reviews (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:22PM (#46187419)
    In Japan, the Manager is responsible if an employee screws up. If an individual does something merit worthy, the entire team takes credit. As well, the freshman hires have no say in their job assignment - higher ups work all that out and take any heat...they sort it later as skills and relationships mature.
    • That sounds noble. But I think it's noteworthy that about the only Japanese software I ever come across is hiding in embedded systems. So I'm not sure we can point to that Japanese model as something we should clearly emulate.

      • I have found Japanese embedded software to be very well written. Even their programming interfaces. [rant]With the exception of Toshiba that makes PLC software from the 1900s which sucks worse than the /. beta interface (seriously, if you think beta is bad, write a complex system in TDP32. Really - black holes have nothing on PLC software without search and replace).[/rant]

      • by Jiro (131519)

        Japan is known for making video games. And they're software.

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      I recall getting fed that line about Japanese management models in my 89's copy of Rising Sun [wikipedia.org], and while watching Gung Ho [wikipedia.org] in the late 80's.

      ...and while there's still a Wikipedia article about the Japanese model of management that talks in the present, I have to ask? Is it still true? I know the quarterly profit driven model of western countries drives our management, and Japanese companies don't fall prey as much to it as we do, but... ...I was still under the impression we've poisoned eastern companies

      • by djupedal (584558)
        We can imagine all the poison we want, but what really happens around the water cooler remains strong. They might say they agree and will adhere, but in the end, they still prefer the ways that got them where they prefer to be, even if a Western concern thinks they own the place. Same goes for S. Korea and China.
    • One downside to that model if you are a star is that you basically get paid the same as everyone else no matter how much they fuck up and how good you are.... Depending on the company there are some places that will give you a better bonus, but for the most part it's all the same. It's much better to be a fuck-up there than it is in the US, much worse to be a star, for the middle of the road people it doesn't matter too much.
  • storm drain (Score:4, Interesting)

    by epine (68316) on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:25PM (#46187455)

    The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. — F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Stack ranking, meet regression to the mean.

    Yes, p accomplishes 1-p (for some p, always) but it's not necessarily the same people in the p pie slice year over year. The Pareto does not state that 20% of the people with account for 80% of the output and will continue to do so, because as we all know 100% of what drives performance is whether you have it, or you don't, end of story.

    Sapolsky on Heights And Lengths And Areas Of Rectangles [edge.org]:

    The problem with "a" gene-environment interaction is that there is no gene that does something. It only has a particular effect in a particular environment, and to say that a gene has a consistent effect in every environment is really only to say that it has a consistent effect in all the environments in which it has been studied to date. This has become ever more clear in studies of the genetics of behavior, as there has been increasing appreciation of environmental regulation of epigenetics, transcription factors, splicing factors, and so on. And this is most dramatically pertinent to humans, given the extraordinary range of environments—both natural and culturally constructed—in which we live.

    What does stack-ranking achieve as a long-term evolutionary pressure? It helps the company accumulate the people who are best at concealing their dips, no matter how the chill winds blow.

    Just what you want cultivate, a whole cadre of engineers specializing in meteorology.

    There was a different passage about genetics I was trying to find. A population will only retain multiple genetic phenotypes if each of those phenotypes is advantageous in some circumstance or environment. Any phenotype that dominates across the board, in nearly every circumstance, soon extinguishes the competition.

    That we have so many phenotypes indicates that human circumstance is extremely fluid.

  • by Arker (91948) on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:33PM (#46187525) Homepage

    " 'The aim is to give people information when they need it rather than months after teachable moments have passed,' "

    This is a very important thing, and it's kind of sad that it IS something that people in business sometimes realize, rather than being something we could assume everyone capable of forming complete sentences understands.

    And that's why it is really important that Timothy, who thinks we form a passive 'audience' here, who somehow imagines that occasionally pushing the button to publish a user submission under his name, without even fixing the obvious typos first, qualifies him as the creator of the site, really needs to feel some backlash today. Not in 6 months when the whole site goes, today.

    It's also why each and every member of the staff that encouraged the delusion that this 'beta' was a reasonable, workable idea needs to be gone now. Not in 6 months when the whole site goes, today.

    Because those teachable moments are short, and these are not minor little mistakes anyone could make. These are possibly the biggest mistakes anyone in their position could make, in regards to their work. They are mistakes that you would expect from someone who was just recruited from a business school last week and had spent no more than 20 minutes lurking before deciding to change everything.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Can you imagine what the Beta site dev team's reviews will be like?

      "Well, everyone hated it so much they threatened to leave the site. A few went off and set up alternatives, some organized a boycot, others just bitched about it in every single story. The entire project seems to be a complete disaster and everyone wants to keep the old site. On the plus side you managed to get a personal best 27 buzzwords per paragraph into the requirements spec, so well done and here's your bonus."

    • This. One hundred times this.

      The teachable moment for Dice is RIGHT NOW. They can either admit what everyone knows (that Beta is a horrible downgrade and should be killed immediately) or they can let their massive out-of-control egos continue to drive their decision making...and drive Slashdot right off a cliff.

      The question that remains is whether they're smart enough to realize that, or whether they will persist on the path they've chosen -- which leads inexorably to a future where people talk abo
    • Next week, Monday 10 February to Monday 17 February. BOYCOTT Slashdot week. Don't come here, not even anonymously. Let them see the drop in page hit traffic. It's likely the ONLY thing that will wake them up to reality. They've been listening to asshole MBA types and image consultants way too much lately.

      Help US teach THEM a lesson about BETA.

      Block slashdot.org at your router if you think you may be tempted, out of habit, to have a look at /. during the week.

  • Too much time and effort is spent on verifying whether the user is a paying customer rather than making their software work. It crashes frequently, freezes up, the 'tech support' is useless, installing and updating is a nightmare. Furthermore, if you are a Adobe cloud user and not near an internet connection (to verify you are a paying user, even though you paid and installed everything) it will not work until you get near a hotspot to sign in and then you can use it. Somehow, we are forced to use this crap
  • by neminem (561346) <<neminem> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday February 07, 2014 @01:50PM (#46187695) Homepage

    Since one of the things that drives me the MOST crazy about my current job, and MOST makes me think about quitting, is in fact the near-constant requests for writing various self-assessments, goal documents, and other such things that are not actually related to my job, and which don't actually seem to be used for anything other than making the people responsible for requiring all of those documents look like they're doing useful things. Drives me crazy. After all that, our performance reviews tend to basically say "yep, you're doing fine. Have a raise that is exactly in line with inflation, just like everyone else is getting."

    • by sydbarrett74 (74307) <sydbarrett74 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 07, 2014 @03:04PM (#46188521)
      That self-assessment stuff is mostly wankery. I want my boss to be candid about what I'm doing right, and what I'm doing wrong. And tell me then and there, not six months later.
      • by swb (14022) on Friday February 07, 2014 @03:45PM (#46189003)

        This.

        I hate the annual kabuki theater of the performance review, with it's empty and meaningless self-assessments and the usual empty criticism ladled on top to make sure the review is 'balanced' (and mostly to be just intimidating enough to dampen any expectation of a salary increase).

        The once a year part is annoying as well, since anything good you've done that wasn't last week has been pushed off the stack. It'd be much better to have more often candid discussions, whether they were regular or based around projects or project milestones where some good could come of them.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          The once a year part is annoying as well, since anything good you've done that wasn't last week has been pushed off the stack.

          Worse than that, anything good you've done that wasn't during a one week span of time five months ago has been pushed off the stack. There is usually a delay in large companies between creating an assessment and sharing it with an employee that lasts a few months.

          Oh, and during that few-month dead zone nothing counts. If you do something big during this time it will just be considered part of the baseline for the next review.

        • The entire system would be too internally efficient, and compensation would be too immediate, and would have to naturally be more evenly dispersed from somewhere, from the top-down...

          Look here, something dull and annoying to distract you from thinking about how you're not being compensated fairly. IT ALL RUNS LIKE THAT.
    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      Crap! They want managers to manage? If they do that how are they going to have time to kiss ass. Every manager I ever had had me write my own evaluation. Modern management is down-up "What can my employees do for me," in stead of what can I, as a manager, do to make my employees more productive.
  • fuck beta! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Dice made it perfectly clear that, even after all the backlash, Classic will soon be gone:
    "Most importantly, we want you to know that Classic Slashdot isn't going away until we're confident that the new site is ready."
    Dice ignores our complaints, while pretending to listen. Ruining every single discussion is the only option we have left.
    Beta delenda est!

  • Sounds kind of intimidating.

    • by Moof123 (1292134)

      Yeah, that caught my eye too.

      Dead wood needs to be cleared out, and I am curious if that is what is going on, or if it is just creating a climate of fear. Dead wood generally doesn't up and leave because of a bad review, good talent with other options does. Think Wally vs. Dilbert. Wally learns to burrow in year after year, Dilbert pulls his hair our over the failures he didn't cause but gets blamed for. So in the common stack system, dead wood tends to accumulate despite poor reviews, and good guys who

  • by xymog (59935)
    I misread "stack-rank" as "slack-rank." Not sure there's a difference. Glass is half full or half empty either way.
  • Every time Adobe releases a new version of Flash, I install it, hoping against hope that finally Flash will no longer crash several times per week (or drain my laptop battery like a vampire). If Adobe has such enlightened management, why haven't those things been fixed?

    • What pisses me off about Adobe's Flash is the installer, every time it asks me to update it asks me wether I want to have it automatically updated in future, or ask me, or never. I select ask me, and it asks me every fucking time, I bet if I selected the automatically one it would never ask me again.

      It's annoying nagware, and they'll never change that aspect because they just want everyone to blindly accept every new version they shove out.

      And it's still shite at playing video in a webpage compared to a
      • by dysmal (3361085)
        You could try overriding those update settings. It means you're no longer on the bleeding edge of the Flash updates but it makes your life significantly less irritating. http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-p... [adobe.com] I 100% agree that Flash is a pain no matter what you do to customize it and think it should be roasted over the burning hulk that used to be known as Beta.
  • by sootman (158191) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:57PM (#46188433) Homepage Journal

    "There is no prescribed format or frequency for these conversations, and managers don't complete any forms or use any technologies to guide or document what happens during such conversations. They are simply expected to have regular check-ins to convey what is expected of employees, give and get feedback, and help employees with their growth and development plans."

    So instead of having some ridiculous regimented (10-question, 2 page form weekly! monthly! quarterly!) bullshit, they're going to let their managers be humans, and let them manage their employees? What a ground-breaking idea. Let me jot that down somewhere.

  • Feedback from our bosses should be like saving a file: early and often. I can't tell you how many times I've heard of a manager showing his/her dissatisfaction too late: during 'the talk' about the direct report being let go.
  • The real way to do assessments is peer ranking. Managers often don't even know what their reports are doing, at least in any detail. However, everybody on the team knows that Bill in the cube near the window has been spending more time reading slashdot beta than working, or that every time Sanjeev tries to do anything, things get fucked up beyond belief.

    This opens up a whole set of other problems, but it allows managers do what they should be doing, which is to set goals, and then to acquire resources nee

  • For a manager: Hire the best people, give clear direction, followup relentlessly, fire the losers. A good manager should hire the best people the budget will bear. They should 1) prepare clear, complete direction for each staff member and 2) communicate the direction to staff as a team and as individuals. They should follow up relentlessly-requirements are always changing and problems are always pressing time and effort estimates committed by staff members and by the manager; it's on the manager to kn
  • Any organization that has a "Senior VP of People and Places" needs to rethink what the hell they are doing. Stupid titles are a sign of stupid management. I bet Slashdot has a "Senior VP of Beta:".

    Damn it! I did it again. Sorry...

    Oh well... Fuck beta!

  • Just reading what they discovered;

    annual reviews required 80,000 hours of time from the 2000 managers at Adobe each year, the equivalent of 40 full-time employees. After all that effort, internal surveys revealed that employees felt less inspired and motivated afterwards

    It's like seeing Allan Greenspan when he realized Wall Street had greedy people who would totally abuse his "hands off" approach to oversight and regulation.

Power corrupts. And atomic power corrupts atomically.

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