- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says the company is overhauling its annual performance assessment system, reports GeekWire. Bezos, calling the new system "radically simplified," says it will focus on employees’ strengths, not weaknesses.
- Bezos has long been criticized for having a “stack rank,” or “rank and yank” appraisal system that gets rid of the lowest-performing employees in favor of those perceived as having the greatest potential. An August 2015 New York Times article called Amazon a “bruising workplace.” Managers reported going into annual appraisal meetings as if preparing to go to court, with stacks of material to defend or support why an employee should stay or leave.
- Microsoft had a similar annual appraisal in its startup days, but has since relaxed some of the more austere aspects of evaluating employees.
This move seems to be the latest in Amazon's continued re-examination of its employee policies. Last fall, Bezos expanded the company’s parental leave benefits and is testing a program that will form part-time only technical teams. Taking stock of company policy and ensuring its employee-friendly is necessary in the tech field, especially, as talent is difficult to find in that sector.
Many workplaces are replacing the annual performance review with more frequent, less formal feedback systems. These systems focus more on the positive aspects of workers’ performance and provide more immediate feedback on successes or areas of improvement. Whether Bezos plans to go that far with his new performance assessment system is not clear.