- Amazon Music wants to overhaul the company’s controversial performance review system.
- The change targets an un-regretted attrition rate, or the percentage of employees Amazon isn’t afraid of losing.
- The metric is hated by some Amazon employees, who say it can force managers to hire staff just so they can fire them.
In its zeal to help Amazon become “Earth’s Best Employer,” one division is considering an overhaul of the company’s controversial performance review system, according to recent internal documents obtained by Insider.
The Amazon Music team is discussing a new approach that would remove the “unrepentant attrition rate,” or the percentage of employees the company doesn’t fear losing. The requirement to meet URA goals – in most cases 6% of each team – has been a major source of contention for some Amazon employees who say it can force managers to hire staff just so they can. fire, as Insider previously reported.
Additionally, Amazon Music is working on a new “performance support program that connects to the new principle of leadership, Earth’s Best Employer,” one of the documents says. The new program aims to provide “transparent and candid support” to employees, with managers being measured by how well they help staff improve their performance and make better career choices, according to the document.
“Once these two program components are clarified in the coming weeks, we will come back with a full proposal on how we intend to replace URA and reinvent performance management for Amazon Music,” the document states. .
The new proposal, if implemented, would be a radical departure from the way new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy oversees the company’s giant workforce. It follows the July addition of “Strive to be the Best Employer on Earth” to Amazon’s famous Leadership Principles, which urges employees to create a more empathetic and friendly work environment. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.
Culture of “stack classification”
Amazon has a complex performance appraisal system that some employees say is driven largely by a relentless “stack ranking” culture, according to a survey conducted by Insider this year. Managers are expected to follow a fixed curve when placing employees in one of the five performance rating compartments, but are instructed not to share the specific performance rating with employees.
Managers are also expected to meet specific URA goals, which represent the percentage of employees that they are not sad to see leaving the company, whether voluntarily or not. Senior Amazon executives, including Jassy, are following the number closely, according to internal documents previously obtained by Insider.
Those who underperform go through a multi-step coaching process that often comes with unclear language or unrealistic expectations, said dozens of employees who spoke to Insider. Finally, employees close to dismissal can challenge the decision before an internal jury selected in part by the company.
For Amazon Music, the idea of a policy change appears to stem from its inability to find enough people to terminate, according to one of the documents.
For the June quarter, the team had an “insufficient pipeline” of underachievers and should have added 7.2% of the population (111 employees) to a performance improvement program by the end of October just to achieve their URA goal. Team leaders complained about the need to meet the 6% URA target during the ongoing pandemic and asked Amazon’s HR department to “rethink the mechanisms for managing performance.” indicates the document.
Amazon Music executives were finally able to slightly modify the program. But even so, at the end of November, the team was short of 40 people to meet its URA goal, according to the document. The team said they would come back with a “separate proposal on how we will approach continuous performance management in the first quarter of 2022,” according to the document.
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