Bell that cat!


The week after the announcements of the annual appraisal ratings can be the best and worst periods of a Unit HR’s job. For younger organizations, it gets a little tougher; not as much because of the processes but because the major population fails to understand how it works. And it is common knowledge that whatever is not understood will not be trusted.

We’ve tried our bit at building awareness. Multiple employee sessions are conducted to try and explain the system before the appraisal cycle is launched, communications regarding calculations are made post appraisal and FAQ’s are published at various points of time. However, how do you convince them of the effectiveness of the bell curve and forced distribution when the HR community themselves debate heavily over it. It’s not a perfect system but it’s one we decide to implement along with most organizations.

In an ideal world, employees will not be forced into a bell curve and will work at the best of their capabilities year after year. But we are far from an ideal world. At the time of fitting the bell curve, we are asked one question – How many performance cases have we identified over the year and taken action on? This is asked for one simple reason – Why wait till the appraisals to identify the poor performers and put them on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan)? Did we wait an entire year to kick them out just so that we have some people to fit the bottom percentile? How did this impact our GOM?

We need a minimum rating out of 10 to keep the employees within an organization. Those who fall below are put on PIP and the decision to retain them is re-evaluated. In case we do not have any employees falling in this category, we are then asked for the number of employees who have left the organization due to poor performance during the course of the year.  If our numbers are nil at both places, we need to justify it.

It may not be an ideal practice, but it makes sure that we don’t wait till the end of the year to identify the poor performers. It is probably a method to keep us vigilant.

Performance management systems are probably a necessary evil.  It usually leaves more people unsatisfied than satisfied. How well does the system work at your place?


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