The dreaded Bell Curve again!

It’s the time of the year when your employees are at their lowest productivity level (well, most of the employees). It’s also the time of the year when no one would dream of conducting their employee satisfaction survey (obviously!). This and a few resignations; all because of your performance management system. Shouldn’t something this important leave your major population motivated instead of the opposite?

Do you follow the bell curve? What is this the purpose of a performance management system? To enable employees to know how well they meet expectations, to facilitate an open conversation between the appraisers and appraise on areas of development, to reward the top performers? Are we meeting these objectives? If yes, why does over 80% of your population feel so disengaged?

We saw Microsoft kicking out its bell curve last year and many more before that. For the simple reason that they wanted to foster team work and collaboration – something that forced ranking does not encourage.

It is hard to change. It’s even harder to distribute profits when every company has their share of great, average and poor performers. However the percentages are not always like indicated in the bell curve. And that is where we tend to get hit.

For a lot of companies, forced rankings are the way to go. It might be a necessary evil and short of shooting the bell curve down, there are few ways to appease those who weren’t ranked at the top.

I remember the title of an article I recently read that said – Demotivating Employees One Performance Review at a Time”. (http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140504130145-9306350-demotivating-employees-one-performance-review-at-a-time?trk=mta-lnk) Maybe that is exactly what we are doing.

In an ideal world, what would your performance management system look like?

Interesting Reads:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/02/19/the-myth-of-the-bell-curve-look-for-the-hyper-performers/ (Especially the part about how the bell curve hurts performance)

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/11/12/why-microsoft-dumped-stack-ranking/

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