Getting a “B” on a report was a respectable grade to bring home for a lot of kids growing up.
But apparently, the above average mark is not good enough at Facebook, where the company stack ranks employees and terminates those not among the top performers.
Former Facebook employees told Business Insider on Wednesday that receiving two consecutive reviews of “meets most” expectations — which they say is equivalent to a “B” grade — would ultimately result in an employee being fired.
“Everything is quantified, and you’re measured against everyone to a number,” one former Facebook employee told Business Insider. “If you get ‘meets most’ expectations two times, then you’re going to be canned in a couple of months. A lot of people I know got canned. You got to understand the game of it, but for me, the culture was unsustainable.”
The former employees clarified that receiving the “meets most” mark was not grounds for firing alone, rather it put employees on a performance improvement plan (PIP) that ultimately lead to one’s termination.
“I’ve never met anyone that’s received two [‘meets most’ reviews] in a row that has continued on at Facebook,” another former employee told us.
Facebook disputes the characterization of its process as stack ranking, a spokesperson told Business Insider. The spokesperson also denied that two consecutive “meets most” reviews result in a performance improvement plan for employees.
‘Meets most’ means underperformance
On Tuesday, CNBC reported that former Facebook employees blamed the company’s stack rank review process for creating a “cult-like” atmosphere where workers felt the need to appear happy in order to win favor with colleagues. The perception and feedback of colleagues is an important piece of Facebook’s twice-yearly peer reviews.
“It’s a little bit of a popularity contest,” one former employee told CNBC. “You can cherry-pick the people who like you — maybe throw in one bad apple to equalize it.”
During the review process, once peer feedback is collected employees are ranked and assigned a grade by management. Only a certain percentage of employees can receive each grade, so managers must advocate for their direct reports to receive the highest marks.
According to the CNBC report, grades at Facebook range from “meets some” expectations (which are rare because most people are fired before receiving this grade) to “redefine” (which is the top mark, given to only 5% of employees). The “meets most” mark is considered a lower grade at Facebook and puts future employment at risk, according to the report.
Management guru and former General Electric CEO Jack introduced the stack rank system in the 1980s. Since then, the system has found favor amongst the tech companies — like IBM, Yahoo, and Amazon — but not without its share of controversy.
Microsoft, for instance, used stack-ranking until 2013, when it found the system to hurt innovation and was detrimental to employee morale.