Google’s New Performance Review System Offers Radical Change

Google is adjusting its performance review system, aiming to give employees more chances for promotion and career development.  

According to The Information, an internal review showed that 47 percent of Google employees thought the search engine giant’s old performance review system, which featured two evaluations per year, was a waste of time. The new system, known as GRAD (Googler Reviews and Development) will readjust the ratings scale used for employees while streamlining the evaluation process. 

GRAD will go into effect this month. Its other features seem designed to boost employee morale along with opportunities for promotion. “Promotions will happen twice a year and we’ll continue to invest in new ways for Googlers to grow their career through internal mobility,” reads Google’s webpage breaking down how GRAD will work. “Performance ratings will happen once a year and our new rating scale will reflect the fact that most Googlers deliver significant impact every day.”

Like many other organizations, Google will keep regular manager-employee check-ins, which are essential for feedback and career development. “We looked at everything, starting with employee feedback, as well as research, industry best practices, and all that we’ve learned about how to design processes for fairness and consistency,” the webpage added. 

Google tweaking its performance review system is important because other companies will surely follow its example. For years, Google and other big tech companies (such as Twitter) relied on an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system developed by Intel; quarterly OKRs are meant to encourage employees to strive as hard as possible for challenging objectives, and everyone’s objectives feed into higher-level objectives throughout the organization (for example, a Google employee’s OKRs might dictate they introduce new tweaks to a mobile app; their boss’s OKRs will combine all app tweaks from all team members). Other, smaller companies across the country adopted OKRs once “big tech” firms popularized the practice.

The big question is whether Google’s move will boost morale. As Google shifts to a hybrid workplace policy and welcomes Googlers back to their office desks for three days per week, at least some employees are upset with the current setup. Perhaps an easier promotion path will make them happier. 

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