Amazon’s New Employee Evaluation Focuses on ‘Soft Skills,’ Performance

Amazon has tweaked its performance evaluation system for employees, according to leaked documents published by Business Insider.

Insider’s breakdown shows how Amazon is focusing on what employees deliver throughout the course of the year, as well as how they delivered it. The “what” is straightforward: Is the employee delivering efficient solutions and approaching problems in an effective way? The “how” is a little more nebulous, but essentially comes down to the employee’s approach to teamwork and communication.

“Amazon tells managers to evaluate an employee’s potential at the company by how they navigate unfamiliar situations, approach new challenges, respond to urgent issues, and deliver on goals with limited resources,” the article added. (There are also some slides you should definitely check out if you’re interested in how a company like Amazon breaks down its metrics for employee evaluation.)

Amazon isn’t the only big tech company tweaking its performance review system. In May, Google announced that it would adjust its own system to give employees more opportunities for career advancement. The new system, known as GRAD (Googler Reviews and Development) tweaked the ratings scale used for employees while streamlining the evaluation process. “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

But will adjustments to the system encourage Amazon employees to stay? The e-commerce giant has been focused on retention lately—at the beginning of 2022, it boosted its maximum base pay for corporate and technology employees from $160,000 to $350,000. “This past year has seen a particularly competitive labor market and in doing a thorough analysis of various options, weighing the economics of our business and the need to remain competitive for attracting and retaining top talent, we decided to make meaningfully bigger increases to our compensation levels than we do in a typical year,” mentioned an internal Amazon post viewed by GeekWire.

Of course, it’s never just about the money. Technologists everywhere want a work environment where they feel supported. A good performance evaluation system does just that—but it may take time for Amazon to tell whether it made the right tweaks.

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