In particular, SI is all for yanking anyone who suggests that the right way to manage talent is to yank out the worst performers in your organization on an annual basis.
This is another prime example of a consulting cock-up from the Big 5/6 who also brought us (often courtesy of the Board of Directors, as per yesterday’s Procurement Damnation post) baseless outsourcing, unnecessary asset liquidation, and the contingent conversion.
While the doctor is all for the reassignment, or, if necessary, the removal of labour that’s not cutting it, arbitrarily hacking the bottom 10% is the dumbest move you can make. Not only does it ruin your reputation (which is why, on Glassdoor, only 62% of current and former employees would recommend Amazon.ca, which employs the rank and yank strategy, as opposed to Google which is recommended by a whopping 92% of current and former employees), but it ruins your future results.
For example, let’s say a new CPO comes in, does a deep performance review across the talent base and removes the non-performers from the organization (either by having them reassigned to another department or retiring them). If everyone who is left is a performer, arbitrarily removing the 10% of the lowest performers in the following year is equivalent to hammering a nail in her coffin with her in it.
To clarify this, let’s say the department has ten employees including three senior buyers, two intermediate buyers, two junior buyers, one full time spend analyst, one full time relationship manager, and one full time contract and compliance manager. If the performance measurement is geared towards identified savings, because the directors are dictating savings, after two years, the relationship and the contract and compliance manager will likely be gone because, doing their jobs properly, they are not identifying savings but ensuring savings identified by the buyers or analyst is realized. In fact, even if each role has its own scorecard, due to the fuzzy nature of what a relationship and compliance manager will due, it’s still quite likely that whoever fills these rolls will rank quite low and be at risk of getting the axe.
But if they don’t get the axe, then, chances are the junior buyers will because the intermediate and senior buyers, who will be more educated and experienced, will able to skew their projects and results to the performance metrics they are measured against. And that’s equivalent to the CPO nailing her coffin while she is in it because, at some point, the senior buyers are going to retire and need to be replaced by the intermediate buyers who will need to be replaced by the junior buyers, who will need a few years to become intermediate — which means that the organization will never see any junior buyers advance. (As it will be cycling a new junior buyer in every year as it cycles one out every year.) As a result, in the long term, the organization will slowly run out of intermediate, and then senior, buyers and results will diminish rapidly — to the point where all employees are equally poor, returns are dismal, and there will be no difference between cutting the bottom 10% and cutting everyone.
Get the picture?
So the next time someone suggests that the organization employ a rank and yank strategy to get better results from its talent, SI strongly recommends that you jump up and say “that’s a great idea, how about we start with you” as you hold open the door!