A the story continued Bloomberg early today with the headline “Blizzard Manager Quits in Protest over Employee Ranking System”. It sounds very businesslike, maybe something to land on an HR manager’s Linkedin news feed, but what he describes is important because it sounds downright dystopian.
Here it is how the report describes that “employee rating system”.:
In 2021, Blizzard, a division of Activision Blizzard Inc., implemented a process called stack ranking, in which employees are ranked on a bell curve and managers must underrate a certain percentage of staff, according to people familiar with the change. He asked not to be named while discussing a personal matter. Managers were expected to give about 5% of the employees on their teams poor “developing” status, which would reduce their profit-sharing bonus money and prevent them from receiving raises or promotions in the near future…
You’ll have to excuse me here because despite working in this job, I still live and work in Australia and so I’m not quite suited to the specifics of an American office environment, but what a dick? You’re telling me that this company has implemented such a system for 5% of its workforce, even if they do well and keep their jobs. great jobwill be targeted and suffer financially – just to meet a quota?
No wonder people get mad! One of those people, Brian Birmingham, is the lead developer World of Warcraft Classiche became so mad that because of that Bloomberg’s report Last week I emailed the staff to “express their frustration with this system”.
When team leaders ask why we should do this, World of Warcraft the directors explained that while they disagreed, the reasons given by executive management were that it was important to squeeze out the lowest performers to make sure everyone continued to grow. Such policies encourage competition among employees, sabotage of each other’s work, the desire to find low-performing teams where people can be the best performers, and ultimately reduce trust and destroy creativity.
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Birmingham goes on to say he can’t work under a system like this, which he and other managers (who were asked to keep it a secret!) had managed to “circumvent or skip” for the last few years but which had recently begun to be enforced. He reportedly told staff he would be leaving the company if the policy was not reversed, but shortly after the email was sent he was called into HR and “terminated”.
If you work at Blizzard and have been impacted by this policy, and would like to share your experiences, you can contact us here.
UPDATE 8:48 PM ET – Birmingham released a lengthy statement on Twitter expanding on his thoughts on the state of politics and corporate leadership in general. It starts here:
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