And tell Deming the news.
I don’t know what to say. As long-time readers of this blog, both of you, may recall, I’ve tried to cut Marissa Mayer some slack. She inherited a difficult situation as the new CEO of Yahoo, and new leaders sometimes do dramatic things to signal the start of a new way. Patton was a master of this.
But now, she’s apparently decided to implement the worst leadership idea imaginable, one that even I can’t explain away. According to Kara Swisher’s article in All Things D, “‘Because Marissa Said So’ — Yahoos Bristle at Mayer’s QPR Ranking System and ‘Silent Layoffs,’” she’s introduced a ranking system for employees that forces managers to place their people on a bell-type curve. This means that some people are going to be ranked as sub-standard — possibly leading to being fired — no matter how good their performance actually is. In other words, if you, as a manager, have done the hard work of building a great team, you’re still going to have to offer up some percentage of your people.
What this does is introduce conflict into the team as people compete with their teammates not to end up in one of the bottom rankings. It puts a big premium on gamesmanship, brown-nosing, and in the current job market, maybe even sabotage. In other words, it’s a world class Einheit eraser, and without Einheit, you’re never going to have a world beating team. Well, you might if you choose your competition carefully.
To make matters worse, she doesn’t seem to be applying this same mechanism to her own team. As one employee put it:
Will the ‘occasionally misses’ classification apply to L2 and L3 execs also? At every goals meeting, we find senior staff who missed even the 70% goals. Thus, by definition, they should be classified as ‘occasionally misses.’ Two such classifications, and that person should be let go, amiright? How about we set an example for the rest of the company and can a few of the top execs who miss (or who sandbag their goals to make sure they ‘meet’)?
Which reminds me of Boyd’s concept of “moral isolation,” which he recommended you apply to your adversaries and not do their job for them on yourself:
Morally, adversaries isolate themselves when they visibly improve their well being to the detriment of others (i.e. their allies, the uncommitted, etc.) by violating codes of conduct or behavior patterns that they profess to uphold or others expect them to uphold. (Strategic Game 47)