A World of Warcraft co-lead was recently fired by Blizzard because he allegedly refused to change and lower an employee evaluation rating to ensure the company quota was met.
As first reported by Bloomberg, Birmingham – the former co-lead of World of Warcraft Classic – sent an email to staff last week. Within the email, Birmingham wrote about his frustration with Blizzard in regard to the way he was forced to lower an employee from the average “successful” rating to “developing” in order to hit the quota mandated by the company.
“When team leads asked why we had to do this, World of Warcraft directors explained that while they did not agree, the reasons given by executive leadership were that it was important to squeeze the bottom-most performers as a way to make sure everybody continues to grow,” Birmingham included in the email.
“This sort of policy encourages competition between employees, sabotages 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.”
For context, this system refers to the stack ranking process that Blizzard first implemented in 2021. It ranks employees on a bell curve, with managers being forced to give low ratings to a certain percentage of their staff.
Bloomberg reported that managers within the company were expecting to give roughly 5% of their employees a “developing” status. This in turn lowering their profit-sharing bonus money and potentially affecting their ability to receive raises or promotions.
Birmingham then went on to write in the same email that he would not work for Blizzard until they removed this stack ranking policy. “If this policy can be reversed, perhaps my Blizzard can still be saved, and if so I would love to continue working there,” adding that. “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.”
Before he sent the email, Birmingham allegedly told a group of colleagues that he was planning on resigning from Blizzard. After this conversation, he was then called by a member of HR to confirm his resignation.
According to the email, the World of Warcraft co-lead was then terminated by Blizzard. Birmingham is yet to comment on his termination from the company.