What is Google Support Check-In? Is it the same as Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)?
In May 2022 Google rolled out a new performance management system called Google Reviews and Development (GRAD). It implemented a more aggressive and harsh performance management framework.
It requires managers to put 6% of their employees as low performers by giving them the rating of “Not enough impact” or “Moderate impact”. The other ratings are “Significant impact”, “Outstanding impact”, and “Transformative impact”. Most Google employees will get “significant impact” or “outstanding impact”. Previously, the quota for low performers was 2%. It’s now 6%. Alphabet (Google’s parent company)’s total headcount at the end of Q3 2022 was 186,779. 6% of 186,779 is 11,207.
Once an employee gets the two low ratings, it’s likely that they’ll enter the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) process.
However, before managers put anyone into the categories of “not enough impact” or “moderate impact”, they must have the employee go through the “Support Check-In” process. As the quota for low performers has grown from 2% to 6%, the number of “Support Check-In” cases have also grown accordingly.
A question I got a lot is if “Support Check In” is the same as Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). The answer is ‘No’. Google’s Support Check-In is similar to Amazon’s Focus process — it’s a step before you’re put onto a PIP.
What should you do if you received “Support Check In”
You need to assess your situation carefully and proceed with caution.
Google’s corporate culture is more humane than Amazon’s culture.
It’s possible to exit “Support Check In” successfully at Google, but it depends on multiple factors.
Why did you get put on “Support Check In”? You need to be super honest and self-aware with yourself. Have you been struggling due to lack of certain technical skills and/or struggled with Google’s tech stack? Did you make any major mistakes? Have you had bad cross-functional relationship? Can you get the issues addressed in 60-90 days? If not, you should start looking for a new position outside Google.
How is your manager? Do you trust him/her? How was his/her track record in managing people out vs. coaching people to improve? If this person has a consistent track record of pushing people out, you need to be really careful and set realistic expectation for yourself.
How realistic and reasonable is the “support check-in” plan? Was it designed to force you to fail? Or it gives you a chance to succeed? It can be challenging but you should be able to tell if it’s put together with malicious intent or giving you a chance to pass.
Finally, I do think that the bigger organizational context is important. Alphabet includes Google has over hired a lot during the pandemic. They need to get rid of some people. Amazon and Meta have already conducted their layoffs. Alphabet knows they need a similar sized layoff (e.g. 10K+ employees). Alphabet/Google has a great reputation in the industry for doing no evil and treating their employees well. In a way, it’s harder for them to conduct a massive layoff like the way Amazon and Meta did. Instead, Alphabet will try to get rid of more people via performance review process. So, the overall organizational context is not on your side — Google will make it harder for anyone to exit “Support Check In”. It really needs to get rid of the 6%.
So, if you’re notified of “Support Check In”, you should take a two-prong approach: assess your situation and try to exit it successfully. But, please don’t bet on it. You should start looking for a job immediately. You still have time — you need to “fail” support check-in before they put you onto a PIP which will give you some additional time as well. So, act with a sense of urgency to get an external offer. It’ll reduce your anxiety and give you options as you navigate the “Support Check-In” process.