Stack Ranking Should Be Illegal

“At Yahoo, I designed and built a large project. This took about six months to deliver. At the time, the company was doing quarterly reviews that I think Marissa had imported from Google. Anyway, my manager had rated me as “meets expectations” for a few quarters because this project and the one I had previously worked on weren’t visible to “customers” till they were delivered, so he didn’t have any evidence to justify a higher rating against other managers’ team members.

Little did my manager know that a few quarters of “meets expectations” had caused HR to drop me into the bottom 5% of the company and so I received a letter from HR that I was at risk of being terminated.

So I deliver the project and now it’s visible and everyone loves it and I get an “exceeds expectations” rating and then a promotion and a raise.

From being warned I’d be terminated to a promotion in less than six months, with no change in my work, but simply it becoming visible. Whee big company fun.”

HN Comment (2019)

How the hell is this even legal?

Stack ranking is the practice of ranking your workers and firing the bottom X%, typically on an annual basis. It’s practiced at companies like Amazon.

It is ludicrous for reasons I shouldn’t even need to explain, and needs to be banned.

So long as employees need their paycheck to live (ie. a world without Universal Basic Income), employees aren’t just widgets that can be disposed of without considering the humanitarian consequences. Getting fired means not being able to put food on the table for one’s kids, losing one’s home, and becoming destitute. Even if one has savings, it takes time to find another job.

Not to mention the absurdity of “meets expectations” being grounds for getting fired. If my plumber “meets expectations” in fixing my toilet, then he’s a good plumber. I don’t expect him to go “above and beyond” and give me a Thai massage while he’s at it.

Blows my mind that there are actually humans out there in management positions advocating for and implementing this totalitarian dystopian garbage, throwing away their employees for “meeting expectations” as if they’re disposable “widgets”. Only a sociopath who has completely dehumanized employees or has a total lack of morality could possibly implement a policy so unnecessarily cruel. Just take a second to let that sink in – there are spineless sociopathic managers actually enforcing this nonsense.

Next time you hear “stack ranking”, your first thought shouldn’t be “yea that’s unfortunate…it’s too bad companies like Amazon do that”. Your reaction should be “why is this still legal? What’s the progress on banning this totalitarian dystopian practice?”

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