Former Blizzard Manager Terminated Over Shady Promotion System
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported about a former manager at Activision Blizzard and how he was ousted after refusing to lowball an employee on their appraisal to hit a quota from upper management.
In 2021, Blizzard, under Activision Blizzard, implemented stack ranking, a way to rank employees on a bell curve with management required to give low ratings to hit a quota.
The manager Schreier mentions is Brian Birmingham, the former co-direcofr on World of Warcraft Classic. In a Twitter thread, Birmingham breaks down the situation and provides details into the ranking sysexecutivesives forced management to implement when dealing with employees.
I wasn't intending to make this public, but apparently its in the news already, so I'd at least like to set the record straight. I am no longer an employee of Blizzard Entertainment, though I would return if allowed to, so that I could fight the stack-ranking policy from inside.
In short, Blizzard managers need to deliver the lowest status, ‘Developing,’ to nearly 5 percent of staff members. This would then turn the affecemployeesee’s ranking down affecting their profit-sharing bonus and potential for promotions and pay increases.
“This sort of policy encourages competition between employees, sabotage of one another’s work, a desire for people to find low-performing teams that they can be the best-performing worker on, and ultimately erodes trust and destroys creativity,” Birmingham tells Bloomberg.
This led to Birmingham’s refusal to participate in the assessments. “If this policy can be reversed, perhaps my Blizzard can still be saved, and if so I would love to continue working there,” Birmingham tells Bloomberg. “If this policy cannot be reversed, then the Blizzard Entertainment I want to work for doesn’t exist anymore, and I’ll have to find somewhere else to work.”
Eventually, HR called to confirm his resignation after telling colleagues his intention to quit. However, before he could do that, he was terminated from his position.
When prompted for commea, a Blizzard spokesperson says the evaluation was designed to “ensure employees who don’t meet performance expectations receive more honest feedback, differentiated compensation, and a plan on how best to improve their performance.”
I’d suggest checking out the thread linked above as it goes into detail regarding the situation. “I bear no ill will toward my former colleagues at Blizzard Entertainment. The Blizzard I knew and always wanted to work for is being torn apart by the executives at ABK, and it makes me sad.” writes Birmingham on Twitter. “I truly respect the developers I worked with at Blizzard. I will still play Blizzard games; the developers at Blizzard are still amazing.”