As a young engineer I took a job at Exxon where they described their forced ranking system as vital to their success. I soon saw that it entrenched the most selfish political types while destroying job satisfaction & teamwork across the company. Much later I took a job teaching in a charter school where this Exxon forced ranking system had been adopted. Predictably, there was tremendous turnover, dissatisfaction and poor management with political connection required for advancement. Now we have companies like Amazon taking a bad system to new heights. In the long run this will not produce the best results as too many talented people flee the abusive environment.
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The grass is always greener. I was at another company that never lays off and promotes poor performers away...those same poor performers were the ones deciding who to lay off after they stretched the company thin by overhiring.
35 years with EM, never heard of issue with force ranking process, left EM with a set of EM friends for life...do you have any friends outside of EM, I wonder. I will be very surprised if the answer is yes since I know that EM people are discouraged to have "friends" from other major oil companies or outside of EM for that matter....so their employees can totally brainwashed.
If you don't agree that professionals and managers should be paid according to their contribution, ExxonMobil is not the place for you to seek a career. I know that XOM goal is to rate according to a persons contribution, both individually, as a team member, and your effect on other workers. 'Contribution' has many dimensions, and money is actually low on the list because it is usually impossible to measure on an individual basis. They work hard at it, and cannot get it perfect -- but I think that the result is better than, say, a pass-fail method. (One evidence is the stock performance over the decades; XOM has been a solid place for people to invest their retirement savings, whether they like the merit system or not.) I add that trying to advance by making others look bad has a low chance of working there, as the evaluation process is quite disciplined (requires consideration of safety, teamwork/interpersonal behavior, accomplishments, integrity, initiative, knowledge, desire/ability to learn, communication, and several other attributes). I sympathize with Anonymous181029, who perceived something different than I describe (be it a localized problem or a perception error/conflict of values) - Either way, it is better that this person got out and found something closer to their values. Often the unacceptable performers are skilled people that just have differences with the XOM system - it is not for everyone. So when that happens, it is best for all concerned to help them find a new career path as soon as practical. It is difficult, to identify such differences during the interview stage, but important for both the person and the company. When you interview, ask the relevant questions.
Not everyone can get a super high rank due to the way the ranking system works. Remember it isn't just your boss that decides your rank. Your boss has to rank you in the same pool as a bunch of others that someone else manages. Meaning your boss has to "fight" with other managers to get you that high rank, while the other managers have to do the same for their employees. Generally if you do a good job and are good to work with, you will probably not be in the bottom 10%. However, that does not necessarily mean you will be placed at the top....As far as getting that super high rank, there is a bit of a gray area there, and I think that is what concerns most people is that there is a REAL potential there for BIAS or maybe even RANDOM scoring resulting in artificial ranks. Yes, that concern can sometimes lead to mediocrity.
Ideally they should be able to trim the fat just by being honest about who the poor performers are. They should be able to determine this while not force ranking everyone. They could still be demanding in terms of what is expectated from employees. They wouldn't be mutually exclusive.
I was at XOM for about a decade. People complained about the forced ranking and it was sometimes unfair or didn't work well. Examples: Having a passive manager that won't "fight" for his/her team, being a high performer but butting heads with your manager, being on a team of high performers someone will be at the bottom even if they are better than others in the company, basic corporate politics. It's not perfect. The one positive is that it does help in trimming the fat on a regular basis through attrition or staff cuts. Other places I worked having rankings but not forced ranking. The same issues happen in both systems except the non-forced ranking companies tend to get a bit more bloated with underperforming staff. Just my 2 cents.
"Sucking up" to all the evaluators has always been the primary criteria for advancement at Exxon. Why do you think that the company is never rated as one of the best to work for (notwithstanding the good pay and bennies)?
Not everyone can get a super high rank due to the way the ranking system works. Remember it isn't just your boss that decides your rank. Your boss has to rank you in the same pool as a bunch of others that someone else manages. Meaning your boss has to "fight" with other managers to get you that high rank, while the other managers have to do the same for their employess. Generally if you do a good job and are good to work with, you will probably not be in the bottom 10%. However, that does not necessarily mean you will be placed at the top....As far as getting that super high rank, there is a bit of a gray area there, and I think that is what concerns most people is that there is a REAL potential there for BIAS or maybe even RANDOM scoring resulting in artifical ranks. Yes, that concern can sometimes lead to mediocrity.
My experience was a team of high performers damaged by the requirement that someone "take the hit".
This is the same system that Microsoft is trying to recover from after having Ballmer force it on them. Wonder why Microsoft lost innovation and technology momentum? This system was the cause.
There's more to being a "high performer" than just doing a good job. You also have to not piss people off while you're at it.
Who cares if you are awesome at characterizing reserves if you are an unpleasant person? You'd be hard to work with and would bring other people down.
Wow, 35 years and never knew anyone that had an issue with the ranking process? What kind of cocoon did that guy live in. The forced ranking process is a morale buster, and ultimately leads unrecognized high performers to be mediocre performers. The only ones who like the process are those who benefit from it. It recognized them, therefore it must be a good system.
My experience is the opposite. 35 years I never had an issue and never knew any co-workers that did. The 10%'ters knew they were done and mostly left the company before it became official. Near the end of my career I was working with some the most switched-on and talented petroleum engineers I had ever known. Very impressive. Great performers The nice thing about being a high performer is that I was always in demand. Well before my project would end I would have another drill team asking about my availability. I would not have traded my EM experience for anything. Anyway, I left with great pension, a lot of really good memories and a set of EM friends for life.