понедельник, 5 января 2009 г.

Why layoff?

by gillbates (106458) on Monday January 05, @11:44AM (#26331185) Homepage Journal

culling the bottom 10 or 20% of performers in order to improve the overall performance of the company.

If someone isn't doing a satisfactory job, they can be fired.

But no matter how many people you lay off, you'll always have someone in the lower 10 to 20 percentile. That's just the way statistics works.

There are a variety of reasons why culling the bottom performers seldom improves the performance of the company as a whole:

  • Employees typically retain undocumented product knowledge in their heads. Someone with intimate knowledge of the codebase, who wrote the original code and debugged it, can typically turn defects around ten times faster than someone who was not involved in the original product.
  • Engineers with the lowest rated performance usually get that rating because they are thorough, methodical and diligent. In other words, they keep the poor code the other engineers write from making it into the shipping version. These are not the kind of people you want to fire.
  • The best performers typically sacrifice aspects of the job which aren't rated in order to achieve that rating. For example, they might write unmaintainable or difficult-to-understand code; may reinvent the wheel; might write code which is far more complicated than needed. While they meet their rated goals, their long term costs may exceed the benefit.
  • Problems inevitably crop up that require novel solutions. Having a staff with a diversity of skill sets creates an environment where the best tool is used for the job, rather than having to use a single tool for every job, no matter how poorly suited, because the company laid off all employees with "unneeded" skill sets.
  • There will always be employees in the lower X% no matter how many people are laid off. Typically, there is a 10 to 1 performance ratio between the best and the worst performers. Instead of simply laying off the lowest performing employees, the question should be, "Why such a large discrepancy?" The answers are often illuminating: A.) Office politics; B.) Personality conflicts; C.) Equipment/resource shortages; D.) Problems with the development process; etc... Ignoring the reasons and simply laying off employees often exacerbates the underlying problem.

I've seen management buy into the "layoff the lowest performers" myth far too often to let it go. It is almost always the harbinger of deeper, structural problems within the company, which if left unaddressed, result in the financial collapse of the company. Laying off people - even the worst performers - almost never results in a more efficient company. If you can't fire them for cause, they're more than likely adding value, even if that value isn't being measured by a performance metric. Take that away, and you take away your ability to do business.