Turning of the Screw – From Awful to Worse

Sandia’s outmoded employee evaluation system is based on an idea that many other companies have abandoned: rate employees 1 to 5 and set rigid rules about how many can be in each category. Then base bonuses, raises, and promotions on those rankings.

Sandia claims to hire nothing but “the best of the best”. Then it says that a majority of those must be rated mediocre (3) and below. Next, it says that managers must base these ratings, in part, on subjective criteria like “attitude”. In other words, to get a top rating, you have to brown-nose your manager better than anyone else in the group and also back-stab your colleagues, with whom you work every day. Do you think that makes for great team cooperation?

Now a new wrinkle has been added to make the ranking and raise policies even less fair. Sandia will let colleagues add evaluation comments to each other’s evaluations. An employee will be shown who has added comments but not what each person said. That makes back-stabbing even easier and potentially makes the evaluation system even less fair. Get ready for flying lawsuits.

There’s a reason that companies like Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and other large firms have done away with this unfair evaluation system. Sandia, always behind the curve, has decided to double down on injustice to “the best of the best”.

6 thoughts on “Turning of the Screw – From Awful to Worse

  1. I worked for SNL for almost 15 years. I was absolutely disgusted with what I saw with the way of raising the most incompetent people to management positions. Those managers had no idea how to be a manager, or for the most part even know how to deal with people. They were the people that needed to be stuck off in a lab by themselves away from the general culture of the labs. They would not stand up for you as a person during your review, so most of the time you came out on the very bottom of the tier. There may be a few good managers but for the most part no.

    I even lost my belief in what the Labs. represented. There are a few good departments but for the overall it is one of the biggest money pits. If people really knew what went on out there, the absolute waste of money and resources. The Labs now has to out source most of the work because it is to costly to have the items made at the Labs.

    1. MaryAnne, I agree with you 100%. The things I have seen and heard could provide fodder for a decades-long congressional investigation. And as people get promoted, they seem to lose their humanity. They think that being helpful, friendly, following policies, and obeying the law no longer applies to them. The managers seem to be trained to be incompetent, mean, and idiotic (I’d use stronger words, but my comment would probably be deleted).

  2. Why are Sandia managers awful? Because they are scared shitless of any criticism. Managers can evaluate employees, but upward feedback isn’t just discouraged, it isn’t allowed. Any criticism, including constructive criticism, of management results in (illegal) retaliation. It never results in any improvement of management.

    This rabid paranoia is a sign of failing management that knows it is failing and doesn’t know how to prevent additional cascading failures. When something doesn’t work the first time, do it over and over and over and over again.

    1. I’ve had lots of managers and bosses over the years.

      The good ones welcomed upward feedback because they knew that both processes and their own behaviors and attitudes could always be improved.

      The bad ones seemed to know or sense that they were incompetent and were afraid of their employees and their suggestions and criticisms. They knew it would never be praise.

      The take-away: try to never work for a manager or boss who discourages both formal and informal upward feedback. And if the corporate culture is opposed to upward feedback, you know that top management is probably incompetent or corrupt.

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