Business entities do not operate in the absence of employees. It takes the efforts of a motivated employee to push the aspirations of a business to the next desired level. Some corporations have neglected their obligation to their employees by focusing only on the customers. However, for significant success in business, the employees need a reason to work as per the company needs; that includes seeing the coming to light of the mission of a business. In this study, the performance management at Amazon is a worth considering. As one of the largest retailers to ever grace the face of the earth, lessons derived from Amazon could help change the way ordinary business activities get conducted.
Despite the size of Amazon, many of its dealings remain a secret that only the employees know. Even the employees are not at liberty to disclose what they know about the corporation as they are made to sign confidentiality documents barring the disclosure of any information that might have come to their knowledge in the course of their employment (Jurvetson, 2015). From the little that has already become public knowledge; Amazon has one of the lowest employee retentions among the Fortune 500 companies.
At Amazon, employees are encouraged to spy on each other. The kind of system employed by Amazon does not reward good but instead focuses on punishing the unwanted. The weekly and monthly business reviews held by Amazon eat into working hours as an employee need to prepare on several aspects presented in 50-60 page printouts (Jurvetson, 2015). It is through this process that Amazon creates its list of bottom performers that get laid off each year.
Amazon employees its internal tools in the feedback process; however, related to other feedback mechanisms, it is unique to Amazon. The feedback process at Amazon is known as Anytime Feedback Tool (Jurvetson, 2015). Employees send criticism and praise directly to top management through the feedback mechanism. The feedback process is completely anonymous in that only the manager knows the reporter. The feedback process is related to a large extent to the Workday’s Collaborative Anytime Feedback mechanism.
Lacking in the feedback process of Amazon is the possibility of employees to see the feedback of others; they only hear what got reported from their managers (Jurvetson, 2015). This mechanism of feedback goes against the whole idea of performance management as it does not spur the growth of employees. When employees share input in groups, more growth occurs. The anonymity of the feedback system at Amazon opens the gates of abuse as some employees would want to sabotage their colleagues (Jurvetson, 2015).
Amazon is a company that seems much inclined to the formal performance feedback process as employed by the retailer. However, there may be chances of informal feedback process that may include daily encouragement, approval from co-workers, receiving mentoring advice, recognition from management, among many other practices (Jurvetson, 2015). When co-workers approve the dealings of their colleague, output tends to increases as much as the quality. In cases where workers receive mentoring advice from industry gurus, it acts as a way of giving feedback to the employees. It is not common for the management to recognize the input of one employee but when it does, that is a sure sign of informal performance feedback.
As opposed to what many managers do, at Amazon, managers document essential happenings through the year. To avoid legal battles stemming out of a company’s performance management policy, managers are to record significant events throughout the year, especially when they involve employee success and failures (Friedfel, 2009). Recording of occurrences when they are fresh keeps the records closely related to the real happening to help in making proper decisions. Continuous making of documents helps when conducting employee evaluations.
Continuous update of job descriptions is necessary since roles do evolve once an employee gets hired. An update to job descriptions gives an accurate account of what an employee is supposed to do. Job descriptions may get updated annually to provide a clear roadmap on what employee qualifications are needed (Friedfel, 2009). Proper job descriptions serve as a useful outline for performance evaluation. Also, consistency in the way Amazon does its performance analysis helps the corporation keep at bay many potential lawsuits. Measures of performance are the same across employees of similar roles (Friedfel, 2009).
Objectivity and being specific are other undertakings that keep legal battles away. It is likely for human beings to grow fond of others after working together for a long time, but, right managers should keep personal feelings away from the job and remain objective. If own emotions come in the way of duty, a company is likely to face suits in the form of discrimination at the workplace (Friedfel, 2009). It is in the face of such possibilities that Amazon uses its feedback mechanism in finding out who to lay off when the time comes. In being objective, specificity is mandatory. Generalities never work well with performance evaluation (Friedfel, 2009).
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, has in place three strategies when it comes to improving employee performance. The three approaches are, being confident that the current employee wants to continue working at Amazon, allowing employees to work from home, and likening failure of employees to an impending invention (Nisen, 2014). However, in recent times the company has adopted a strategy where non-performing employees continue serving under a mentor; pivot is the name of the program. Pivot exists to help an employee who reports consistent underperformance to come back to their feet (Nisen, 2014). The program has three options which are improving performance, leave Amazon with severance, and appeal the decision of being placed under pivot.
We can do it today.
At Amazon, Bezos has in a place the ‘’pay to quit’’ strategy adopted from Zappos before being merged into Amazon (Nisen, 2014). Employees get trained, and upon completion, they are offered two thousand dollars to quit if they feel Amazon is not the right place. Through engaging in the ‘’pay to quit’’, Amazon hires only those people willing to serve in its status. The pay to quit does not just happen at the end of the training but also in the course of employment where employees are offered suns between 2000-5000 dollars to resign (Nisen, 2014). Employees take a moment to think what it is they want before accepting the offer or continuing to serve.
Amazon offers the flexibility of working for its employees. Employees are allowed to work from home so long as their productivity matches the company needs (Nisen, 2014). The work from home aims at offering comfort and retaining productive personnel who do not wish to leave their homes. Lastly, Jeff Bezos associates failure with inventions (Nisen, 2014). Employees get encouraged to keep trying until they get it right, for failure illuminates the way ahead.
- Friedfel, S. (2009). Protecting Yourself in the Performance Review Process – Workforce Magazine. Workforce Magazine. Retrieved 9 January 2018, from http://www.workforce.com/2009/03/22/protecting-yourself-in-the-performance-review-process/
- Jurvetson, S. (2015). Amazon’s Performance Management Mistake: What the NYTimes found out. Impraise Blog – Employee performance management, reviews and 360 feedback. Retrieved 9 January 2018, from https://blog.impraise.com/360-feedback/the-amazon-controversy-what-is-missing-in-its-performance-management-360-feedback
- Nisen, M. (2014). Three ways Jeff Bezos keeps improving Amazon’s workforce. Quartz. Retrieved 9 January 2018, from https://qz.com/197819/three-ways-jeff-bezos-keeps-improving-amazons-workforce/