Archive for the ‘stress’ Category


A harmful evaluation process is finally ending at Microsoft

November 14, 2013

Ding-dong, the brutally unfair “stack ranking” process is dead at Microsoft. The company announced┬áthat it would be using different methods of evaluating employees. As this NY Times piece notes, not only did this process discourage some recruits from joining the company, it also kicked out plenty of good employees.

The central flawed assumption behind stack ranking is that it assumes that 20% of your workforce is always doing an unacceptable job. It’s comparing employees to each other instead of to clear, measurable performance standards. It’s the opposite of the “Lake Wobegon Syndrome,” where “every kid is above average.” How many very good employees lost their job because, well, somebody’s got to be at the bottom of the pile? How incredibly sad to have to push potential out your door.

Another heart-breaking part of this: star employees not wanting to work together because only so many people get to be at the top of each manager’s rankings. Could Microsoft’s dearest rivals have concocted a shrewder policy: don’t let your sharpest people collaborate! I am delighted to hear that stack ranking is on its way out.


I think the free bag idea is backward …

November 13, 2013

This article confirmed something that’s been on my mind for the last 300,000 or so miles I’ve flown: why don’t the airlines let you check a bag for free and charge you to take one on? Not only would it reduce wait times, but I think it would also reduce stress levels at the gate. What happens now is that, as soon as the agent begins his/her spiel–and sometimes sooner–a crowd begins to form at the jetway entry. While I think some guys (and it’s always guys) want to subtly show that they’re seated in first class, everyone else joins the scrum because they are worried they won’t be able to get all their stuff stuffed into a bin.

It’s easy for me to say this because I’m assuming Delta will not charge me, a Diamond with a Delta AMEX card. But I’ll add that on trips home, when I’m less worried about my bag getting lost, when I’ve not been upgraded, I have volunteered to check my bag through. These gate checks are free, and I do it in part to reduce my stress–even though there’s always room when I board.

A related note: few things make me grind my teeth more than watching a fellow frequent flier abuse his/her early boarding privilege and store two items overhead. It’s unfair, it violates the flight attendants’ and gate agents’ instructions, and it unsubtly shows a lack of respect for the late-boarding passenger who has to gate-check a bag due to a lack of overhead space. Bonus grinding: when said FF is sitting in an exit row. He/she already has leg room the rest of us would pay for, and yet you’re still not comfortable enough? Shame on you!

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