Google and Its Hard Data Approach to a Soft Skill: Firing People

December 5, 2022

Who knew that Google would embrace highly subjective methods such as performance reviews. Yep, a person provides input about another person. What could go wrong? Nothing because the data are Googley by definition. (Interesting how that works, isn’t it?)

The scoop on the method plus a somewhat less than enthusiastic comment are the guts of “Google’s Plan to Lay Off 10,000 Poor Performing Employees Is Based on a Big Lie: Can Performance Reviews Really Do the Trick.”

The Google approach appears to equate fewer employees with lower costs. Okay, sure. But why not focus on the core problem: For me, Google is losing its magnetism. The company like Apple is embracing more aggressive methods of generating revenue. Do you enjoy the promotions for Google’s spin on cable TV? I love them: Repetitive and invasive. What’s not to like.

Here’s the Google plan:

Reports indicate that performance reviews are rolling out companywide. Google leadership is turning to the reviews so that they can rely on supposedly hard data to maintain fairness, remove bias, protect against favoritism, and have something to point to when needing to justify their decision for which 10,000 get laid off.

But the information in the write up which caught my attention was this passage’s payload:

But, according to this Harvard professor, [the write up in the best tradition of Silicon Valley real news does not identify Tsedal Neeley as the expert who is calling Google’s method hogwash]  it’s all one big lie. Many experts claim that the layoffs in big tech are the result of new corporate strategy, failed big bets coming out of the pandemic, and austerity measures entering the recession. This angers the public (not to mention the employees at these companies), because now the decision feels less objective — less fair.

My take on this is that Google’s multi-decade approach has been a high school science club approach to management. Now the company is embracing the ways of the dinobabies. Will this work? In my opinion, it will work like most of Google’s technology, in a way that is good enough.

Google’s personnel milestones include some notable, high profile events. My hunch is that 2023 will feature some newsworthy benchmarks as well; for example, fairness, equal treatment for those from certain backgrounds, and unbiased selection of those who can find their future elsewhere.

Worth watching because the Twitter email notification about termination may be an ideal fit for Gmail’s capabilities.

Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2022


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta