Working in Tech is hard these days

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Meta’s employee performance rating is confusing.

If you meet all of the expectations of your job at Meta Platforms Inc., then you have not met all the expectations, because there is an unstated (well, somewhat stated) meta-expectation that you will exceed expectations. The Information reports:

Company leaders have told some managers that employees who receive a “meets all expectations” grade in their performance review have to up their game, said a current manager. In the past, employees receiving such a grade were told that was a positive sign.

The new message comes amid one of the most intense performance-review cycles in the company’s history, in which Meta managers are ratcheting up pressure on the workforce. It follows Meta’s layoff of 13% of its workforce, or 11,000 people, in November. Now, as fears of a recession mount, some employees worry more job cuts could be on the horizon.

This is semantically irritating — shouldn’t “meets all expectations” include meeting the meta-expectation that you exceed the other expectations? — but practically reasonable; the message is “you have to blow us away every day if you want to keep working here,” which is a nice thing to aspire to. (Also I mean, fine, grade inflation is everywhere.) Incidentally Meta’s highest performance grade (above “exceeds expectations” and “greatly exceeds expectations”) is “redefines expectations,” which I am not sure is entirely a good thing. “This person makes me expect things I had never expected before”: Could go either way.

I was going to make a joke about how it is hard to run a company where you fire your average employees every year, but actually that seems plausible in big tech in 2023? Like, you have 90,000 employees, you rank them, you fire the bottom 50,000, now you have 40,000 employees, you rank them next year, you fire the bottom 25,000, now you have 15,000 employees, you rank them the next year, you fire the bottom 8,000, etc., I don’t know, the Elon Musk Twitter experience teaches that you can repeatedly fire half of your workforce and it might be fine, or fine-ish. 

Speaking of the Elon Musk Twitter experience, Twitter is selling off its office espresso machines? And here is a New York Magazine cover story about Musk’s “extremely hardcore” regime at Twitter that I found kind of upsetting to read? Like I feel like there are, in the world, cushy jobs, and there are hardcore jobs, and some people want hardcore jobs building rockets for SpaceX and other people want cushy jobs selling ads at Twitter. And if you start a company, you can start a hardcore company or a cushy company or something in between, but if there’s an already-existing large public company it is very hard to transition it from one end of the scale to another. When you select yourself into a cushy job and it suddenly, through the market for corporate control, becomes hardcore, that’s pretty rough on you. Apparently thousands of Twitter employees who six months ago were working reasonable hours for good pay with great snacks have decided “okay guess I’ll be sleeping at the office from now on,” but presumably thousands of others had arranged their lives in such a way that they had to go home and see their families at night? I just don’t understand how you can take a cushy company and turn it hardcore without replacing all the employees and giving the new employees something inspiring to be hardcore about.


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