Employee Ranking Systems LO16573

EBUDD (EBUDD@aol.com)
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 13:25:37 EST

Replying to LO16530 --

In a message dated 98-01-15 01:05:41 EST, Linda Wing writes, in part:

> how well they are functioning as individuals, where they are strong, how
> their strengths
> together lend to a collective strength, affects the ability of the system
> at large to perform
> well.

I have two thoughts about this thread. The first is that Linda points to a
major flaw in one of the assumptions I believe underlie ranking/rating
efforts. The assumption is: the performance of the components of a systems
*add* up to the performance of the whole system. Ranking never looks at
how the people in an organization work together to produce the results
they are producing.

It makes as much sense to rank people as it does to rank components of
your automobile. When you are done identifying the top performing parts,
are you going to get rid of the under-performers (the wheels aren't doing
their job, lets 'reassign' them outside' the company)? Are you going to
turn the under- performers into copies of the top performers (we will be
better off having two outstanding engine blocks and that poor performing
exhaust system will no longer be a strain on our management resources)?
The characteristic behavior (or results) of any system is the result of
how its components interact, not how well the individual components
perform on their own. The automobile, as a system, delivers
transportation. None of the parts by themselves can deliver
transportation. None of the parts can even transport themselves. In an
organization, none of the people by themselves produce the results of the
organization. Ranking ignores the fact that organizational performance is
the result of the quality of the interactions of the organization, not the
quality of the individual performances.

My second thought is a bit more sarcastic. Ranking is an easy way out. It
is a management approach that requires no training, no skill and almost no
thought. My 12-year old daughter and her friends were riding home with me
after a sleep-over at their friend's house. Their conversation on the way
home was devoted to ranking each of the girls at the party on a variety of
scales: friendliness, shyness, beauty, politeness, etc. They had
absolutely no problem coming to agreement on who was the friendliest, who
was the least polite and so on. They don't earn management salaries, they
don't have college or graduate degrees. They haven't even attended the
most recent Tom Peters seminar. Yet they are able to rank and rate anybody
and everything that enters their world. And in the end, the most results
their ranking has ever produced is some resentment on the part of a ranked


Eric Budd 1153 Ironwood Court #2 Rochester, MI 48307

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>