Stack Ranking at Microsoft

David Auerbach for Slate:

The stack rank was harmful. It served as an incentive not to join high-quality groups, because you’d be that much more likely to fall low in the stack rank. Better to join a weak group where you’d be the star, and then coast. Maybe the executives thought this would help strong people lift up weak teams. It never worked that way. More often, it just encouraged people to backstab their co-workers, since their loss entailed your profit.

Stack Ranking is one of the major criticisms of how Microsoft operates its business. Basically, people are ranked on their work performance on a scale. Someone has to be the best, and therefore be in line for raises and rewards. But someone also has to be the worst, and shuffled around or dead-ended within the company.

This has been a practice at Microsoft predating Ballmer’s reign, so I doubt this will change unless the incoming CEO is someone from outside of Microsoft.

Still, what an awful way to work. Sitting across from a teammate, thinking in the back of your mind, “I have to find a way to convince our superiors that I am slightly better than you.”