Forced stack ranking has always been the refuge of executives who can’t, or won’t, train managers in effective performance coaching, assessment, feedback and accountability. It’s the easy fix to perceived “grade inflation” when executives believe managers are not being candid in assessing their weaker performers. The process was made popular by G.E.’s famous adoption of this practice under CEO Jack Welsh.
The big problem that proponents of forced stack ranking don’t address is the corrosive impact this practice has on team work and productivity. Microsoft in the Steve Ballmer era has embraced the practice. Google has had it’s fling with it. In a first-hand account published on recently on Slate.com, a former Microsoft employee called it “as toxic for innovation and integrity and morale as media reports made it out to be, and then some.”
Recently, Jena McGregor at the Washington Post published an excellent article on titled “With Steve Ballmer’s departure, a look at Microsoft’s flawed system of performance reviews.”
I recommend it to you.
Then, read my article “Best Practices in Performance Management“ for a discussion of what works to positive accelerate performance in an organization.
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