Meta has asked managers to double the percentage of employees rated as not meeting expectations in their annual performance reviews. But, like annual cuts, performance appraisals that must fit artificial quotas are questionable and potentially unethical.
The assumption that performance follows a distribution is critical to this approach. Moreover, since all PA ratings are inherently biased, there is also the idea that giving managers forced quotas will increase the chances of more accurate ratings. While there may be some truth to these notions, forced quotas are ultimately a shortcut. They turn talent management into an accessory.
1) At companies like Meta, hiring processes are super competitive. This means those selected do not follow a full normal distribution but a much more restricted range. Tech companies have been harping on how exceptional their talent pools are. So, either they’ve fostered a false myth, which might justify using the quota approach now, or they are using this approach as a disguised device to shed jobs. The latter is not inspiring nor honorable.
2) Expecting managers to fit employees into categories is not necessarily a less biased method, especially when the pressure is so high. If talent is generally top-notch, but supervisors must identify underperforming contributors, they may pick underperformers based on factors other than performance. In addition to the usual biases that plague performance evaluation, impression management behavior and other forms of political posturing may shape the process in the workplace. Forget about talent management as a strategic function or a meritocratic one.
3) Letting it be known that twice as many employees will fall into the underperforming category is another fear tactic to extract more effort from the workforce. The caveat, however, is primarily ethical since even if people work harder, job purges are already slated to happen.
Instead of following the self-defeating plan of cutting costs to free up resources for product development and shareholder appeasement, Meta should worry about increasing work joy and engagement. Innovation needs trust, not a fearful workforce. Super-commitment, motivation to break the mold, and readiness to endure the uncertainty of creating something new are the goals that Meta should want to achieve right now. For that reason, they should talk less about quotas and job cuts and more about the purpose of its new vision.
Tags: Culture, Talent, Performance Evaluation, Employee Engagement, Ethics