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Hockaday retired in 2002, and Hall's grandson, Don Hall Jr., took over. The new CEO said he was abandoning Hockaday's plan of increasing revenue. "The $12 billion goal," Hall wrote in a company newsletter, "has become a distraction and it's time to put it aside."
Don Hall Jr. didn't end the company's harsh evaluations. Last year, many departments learned that Hallmark had begun a second round of restructuring. Some employees have already been laid off, and more cuts are expected later this year. Managers say the evaluations cause them to fire employees who are actually doing well.
One former Hallmark manager says she told her supervisor that nobody in her department should be ranked poorly. She was told to identify a few employees who would be given "personal improvement plans." She would assign them more work, and if they couldn't cut it, they'd be fired. "I said, 'There is not enough money in the world to do this,' and I quit."
Another former Hallmark department head who worked there for two decades says she was given similar directives. "Even if you had 10 outstanding people in your department, you had to find one who was less," she says. "That's what drove people crazy. If you built a great team, how do you tell them that one of them has to be scored at the bottom?" Evaluations were god at Hallmark, the former manager says. Many supervisors spent two months filling out lengthy evaluations before the deadline at the end of February.
"I remember spending every Super Bowl writing evaluations," the former manager says. In the end, she got her own forced evaluation. She was fired earlier this decade — she asked that The Pitch not specify the year so that she wouldn't be identified — and never given a specific reason. A friend told her, "You were prom queen for a long time. It's time to consider that someone else is prom queen now." When she received her own poor evaluation, it was humiliating. "How can I be valued for so long, and all of a sudden I have no value? When they make a decision, it's ruthless."
Kevin Goodale was also a casualty of the forced rankings. Goodale had worked at Hallmark for 25 years, most recently in the engraving department. In 2001, his supervisor put him on a "personal improvement plan" for being too slow.
"Why are you doing this?" Goodale asked.
"I don't know," he recalls his supervisor saying. "We've got to group people into thirds."
Goodale tried to work faster, but engraving isn't a job you can hurry. When his quality suffered, his manager told him: "I'm recommending you for termination."
Goodale agreed to retire on his birthday on October 7, 2004. He says it felt like he had lost a family member. "We've grown up with these people. We've seen births, marriages, deaths," he says of his fellow employees. "It becomes a second family to you, and then it all gets stripped away."
Still, Goodale often recalls the good days. "When it was good," he says, "it was the end of the rainbow."
Another employee, who asked that her name not be printed, says she got the same treatment. She designed cards for Hallmark in the 1970s and recalls a company that still treated its employees like family. Back then, each department would make Christmas ornaments for the tree in Joyce Hall's office, and she took pride in picking out her design on Hall's tree. She left the company and returned in the 1990s to discover it had changed. "Once he [Joyce Hall] let subordinates take over, that family feel was lost."