Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace [nytimes.com, 2015]
Many of the newcomers filing in on Mondays may not be there in a few years. The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock. Losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff — “purposeful Darwinism,” one former Amazon human resources director said. Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.
Amazon workplace story raises dread of 'rank and yank' reviews [money.cnn.com, 2015]
"If a company is hiring the best of the best out of the best schools, would we say 60% of its employees are average? That's what forced distribution says," Sloan explained. In other words, stack ranking grades on a curve. You may have done a good job and even accomplished more than you did the year before, but this year someone else may have done just that little bit more. That can be demoralizing to otherwise great employees and it can pit colleagues against each other, even when they're supposed to work collaboratively.
Viewpoint: Are Amazon's feedback tactics unusual? [bbc.co.uk, 2015]
If the New York Times allegations were true, Amazon has simply taken a fairly traditional managerial creed - numerically record every human employee action in the workplace so that it can be completely controlled - and enlisted "big data" to invent a surveillance machine…
He [Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) - father of the "rank and yank" school of management] wanted to scientifically measure every part of the job so that he understood it far better than the employee actually doing it. For this he used a stopwatch. Then he ranked each worker's output individually and rewarded them accordingly. Taylor was driven by a deep worry. If employees hid their behaviour from managers, especially in group settings, they would end up controlling the production process rather than supervisors. The legacy of this paranoia is still prevalent in today's modern offices.
Rank And Fire [content.time.com, 2001]
Wrangling behind closed doors for up to two days at a time, the bosses compare and contrast the performance of workers over the prior six months and rate them on a five-point scale, with the top 5% designated "superior" and the bottom 15% labeled "needs improvement." In between are "excellent" (30%), "strong" (30%) and "satisfactory" (20%). You don't want to be in the cellar: anyone described as needing improvement has six months to either get up to standard or scram.