A former Amazon drone engineer who quit over the company’s opaque employee ranking system is working with lawmakers to crack it open

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From the article: A former Amazon drone engineer who quit the company after being told he was among the worst-performing members of his team is working with lawmakers who want to force companies to open up their employee-ranking systems. Pat McGah told Bloomberg that in February last year, managers told him he was one of the “least effective” members of his team. When McGah asked managers why he was ranked so low, they didn’t provide details, he said. McGah, who had worked at Amazon for 18 months, was told he could either submit a 30-day performance plan or accept severance, Bloomberg reported. McGah said he chose severance because he didn’t understand the feedback from his manager, who suggested McGah learn to create “structure in ambiguous situations,” among other things. “What does that even mean?” McGah told Bloomberg, adding: “It sounds like a fortune cookie.”


This happened to my husband at Tesla. We learned about the practice after he was let go. He worked his ass off and in all his years of experience had never had a bad performance review (even @ Tesla). They really crushed his spirit. He’s an expert in his field, but he’s having a rough time getting his self-esteem back.


From an executive position….what is the purpose of decimating your workforce every year? Is it motivating people to work harder? Is it saving on costs to keep people for a year and then can them? It seems to me that this would be one counter productive hell hole with everyone staying just fast enough to avoid the rampaging bear


Amazon is notorious among FAANG for its PIP culture and URA (unregretted attrition rate), a goal each business unit gets for minimum attrition they have to meet each year. They stack rank, and the bottom performers get put on a PIP to drive them out or fire them eventually. It’s a toxic culture and not worth the TC. They also backload the vesting on their RSU packages, so they save money given the high turnover rate.


Having been a manager who has been asked to stack-rank employees….I can tell you exactly how it’s done. Email comes from boss. Boss asks for stack ranking of employees. You think about it for a while, how you’d rank everyone based on performance metrics. Realize you don’t have the sort of comprehensive performance metrics you’d need to do something like that. Just shoot back a list a couple days later based on your gut feeling.