Monday, September 7, 2015

Why didn't Google get rid of ratings like many other companies ?

So far, in the past few posts, we looked at the changes into performance management system brought in by companies such as Juniper Networks, Accenture, Microsoft, Adobe and Deloitte. As stated, all these companies had their own share of good reasons while deciding to make the shift. I will delve into a bit more analysis around this in the upcoming posts but for now, would like to focus on Google.
I consider the case of Google as important because- by the virtue of it's image, is known to be an organization that has evolved newer ways of doing routine things. I had recently gotten a chance to read the book by SVP of HR at Google, Laszlo Bock. Bock is the key author of the book titled- Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead. This book is all about how Google reinvented the way their HR function is run. While i will try and narrate in detail the review of this book in the future posts, but in gist, Google relied a lot on the concept of Data driven HR by bringing in a unique focus around People analytics.
Using this approach as a foundation, Google reviewed the various aspects of the way Human Resources function was managed and brought in many changes that eventually helped HR function make a desired impact. Like many other companies, the book states that- Google also reviewed the Performance Management system and did bring in the changes wherever necessary or seeked an objective reason to not change. Unlike most of the organizations that i have featured in the recent blogs, Google didn't let go of rating system and retained the rating system as a part of its core performance management philosophy. Why did Google retain ratings ?

To answer this question, i have included the below image from the Page-167 of the above stated book by Laszlo Bock. Please do take a moment to go through the contents-

To Summarize:
1. Google sees ratings as a tool that can help managers take key people related decisions.
2. The focus is not just on having a rating system but rather a "just" or "fair" rating system.
3. Google considers calibration meetings important, where the key managers calibrate the efforts across the organization to bring in the necessary consistency across the organization.
4. Ratings play an important role in calibration meetings by providing a standard language. It can also help provide the visibility of exceptional employees to the rest of the organization's managers- hence help take crucial decisions like move to other teams.
5. The rating system probably makes less sense if the organization has less people. But if we are dealing with a large mass of people, a foundation of just system is needed to create consistency and fairness. Rating process that relies on calibration actively weeds out badness and bias from the system.

Google has an interesting take here, as it is not directly taking the approach of weeding out symptom of the problem (i.e. ratings) but rather tries to address the root of the problem (bad "unjust" rating system) as they see it.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. See you soon.

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