Forced Ranking and the Bell Curve: How Outdated HR Practices Undermine Employee Performance

9 thoughts on “Forced Ranking and the Bell Curve: How Outdated HR Practices Undermine Employee Performance”

  1. Be it “Bell Curve” or “Power Curve” or any Curve, it still come back to the curve…. this curve only assume…. Assumptions sometimes right but sometimes also can be wrong. One should look at the “influencing” factors that “chance”. This mean you are at the right moment, the right time…. Chance factor are very important….

  2. Bell curve, power curve, they all are based on ranking. Do not understand how power curve resolves any of the problems bell curve have. E.g still only small number of stars, large majority of “non stars”. Makes it even worse by saying there are small number of superstars that product most of the work. So the rest are just inefficient and idle – depicted by 80% delivering 20% of work?!

    Why not scrap it all and let stringent hiring process, measurements against objectives, honest review and feedback, 360 surveys drive development and reward?

  3. Incompetent management make incompetent appraisals .People given grade by people who never worked with you.Then at other times you are given a lower appraisal since you are not considered hi potential due to age.
    Define toy needs improvement.

  4. The bell curve is best applicable in line assembly where people are working on the same environment. But for a company wide with different environment and diverse processes, it is illogical to compare them holistically. The 20/80 is more rational.

  5. I agree to 360-degree feedback where the “customers” whom an employee liaise with give feedback on the employee’s performance (at least 80% weightage). The remaining weightage can be from manager and peers.

  6. Prior to any of type of Force Ranking methodology being adopted, need to be clear on the organization objective of engaging such methods. Most organization adopt the Force Ranking because it is linked to Bonus and Increment (they announced to everyone they are practicing performance based rewards). Performance Management should be a driving tool to achieve the organization objectives. Leaders should be using this tool as a way to mitigate risk of unable to achieve the organization objectives and development of employee instead of merely for ranking purposes.

  7. How I use to grade my staff was top marks went to people who did more than was expected for their job at their experience in the position. Average grade went to people that did their jobs and no more. Need improvement grades went to people that needed improvement (no surprise), to function or perform at their job. Of course there will be a few that even with help, would never be able to perform their job. in this case, they should be moved to another position. This does not mean firing as there must have been something to them that showed that they were worth hiring in the first place. It maybe just a wrong placement for the individual. Using this approach, it similar to the A,B,C grading but it is more understandable to an employee leading to less anxiety and less confrontation in this process.

  8. I implemented a pure and fair (in my opinion) MBO system in 2002 for a group of 28 people reporting to me, I was working for a large oilfield services firm. I sat down with each employee at the beginning of the year to prepare objectives which were measurable, challenging but not impossible, and mutually agreed upon. During the year I sat down each quarter again and we reviewed together where the ratings were headed. At the end of the year all the financial, management, safety, and quality goals were met for the base. In fact the base was declared topmost performer in HSE among 228 worldwide locations. About 40% of staff were rated A on my system, perhaps 30% B, and 25% C and perhaps just 1 guy as D. This was due to the quarterly course correction which allowed people to see how they were performing and improve it. I got my wrist slapped that I can’t go against the Bell curve and that my management was flawed – my boss changed all the ratings to fit the curve and I was forced to quit. This is what happens to people who defy convention.

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