Employee Ranking Systems LO16661

Richard S. Webster (webster.1@osu.edu)
Sat, 24 Jan 1998 12:37:01 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO16647 --

LO Colleagues -

Replying to Ben Compton

>The reason for ranking employees is to 1) determine the value of each
>employee, 2) create competition between employees. Both of these are
>critical to the long-term success of any business.

Agree - IF the right things get measured and the measurements are applied
in useful ways to help motivate individuals and work groups. The large
majority of comments on this thread are that they are not used in these
positive ways.

>If a business doesn't know who the most valuable employees are, how are
>they to reward people based on performance? And if employees aren't
>rewarded for their performance, then what are they rewarded for? Rewarding
>people based on subjective criteria increases the risk that a business
>will behave in unethical ways (I define unethical, in this context, as
>rewarding someone for something they have not done). Furthermore, if
>employees aren't ranked how are they to know if they need to improve their
>skills or increase their knowledge so they can become more valuable to the

Again, agree, IF the evaluation is done for purposes of encouraging
learning and performance improvement. Ranking, especially within work
groups, is unlikely to contribute to these desirable objectives.

>As employees compete for the value they give their employer the business
>as a whole increases it's competitiveness. What better way to encourage
>learning than
>to have people compete with one another based on their knowledge and

>Competition is a natural principle that has universal application. Instead
>of fighting it, why not leverage it?

Once again: our education system is in BIG trouble. One reason is the
competition among students for grades. Those in doubt may learn from:

Kohn, Alfie. "Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, A's,
praise and other bribes." 1993, Houghton-Mifflin. Rewards (and rankings)
are usually about power, control and the imposition of standards. Real
excellence and learning and performance improvement comes from trust,
caring, feeling safe and taking risks to solve problems and learn. Real
community, and teams, are built when civility, trust, respect and other
qualities of character and citizenship are understood, agreed upon and

Assessment (e.g. multi-source, often called "360-degree" assessment) and
performance evaluation can have positive effect on learning and work
outcomes. These are usually very different than "ranking" as the term has
been used in this LO thread. Long-story-short: creating learning plans
and tracking progress works. Ranking on factors not usually well-linked
to outcomes works less well and causes lots of interpersonal stress. We
all need to remember the point ascribed to Dr. Deming about being able to
measure only about three percent of what matters.

And an idea for testing this matter of ranking employees: do any of the
"100 best companies to work for in America" do intra-work group rankings?
I don't know but I'll bet a good lunch the answer is NO! Does anyone else

Dick Webster

Dr. Richard S. Webster, Ph.D.
President - PRM Institute (and Director of PRMI's "Learning Works Project")
709 Wesley Court - Worthington OH 43085-3558
e-mail <webster.1@osu.edu>, fax 614-433-71-88, tel 614-433-7144
*** PRMI is a 501(c)3 non-profit research & development (R&D) entity. Most
projects relate to the paradigm shift to "learning" as a key performance
improvement strategy, from performance improvement strategies now being
used, e.g. "training, instruction and teaching." ***


"Richard S. Webster" <webster.1@osu.edu>

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