Employee Ranking Systems LO16669

J.C. Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Sat, 24 Jan 1998 23:21:14 -0800

Replying to LO16647 --

Welcome back Ben,

I'm not moved to speak because of:

> In response to Eric Budd who wrote:
> "It makes as much sense to rank people as it does to rank components of
> your automobile."

To me, it belongs to the category: "a woman without a man is like a fish
without a bicycle".

It is the issue of ranking and competition i want to remark on.

> 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.

There are many ways to rank people and contribution to an organisation is
one. You assume that competition among employees increases long-term
success. It sure increases short-term success of a business: as sales
people compete with each other in order to gain the biggest bonusses, the
order-intake increases; as production people compete for the fastest
deliveries, output grows; as managers compete to stimulate competition
among their employees, both processes blossom. Every function within an
organisation then competes with one another in order to benefit: and from
the growing turn-over and from the growing shares. (It makes me wonder why
my own internal organs (functions inside an organisation) don't compete:
my head should strive for more energy to think and grow bigger, my
stomache for more food to digest in order to grow a belly, my feet should
claim more running in order to get more blood and grow strong. But i want
to take another direction)

On the long run, however, sales makes promisses production can not meet;
production deliveres poor quality, just to deliver faster; managers cheat
employees into better performance, knowing they will be promoted before it
shows, being covered by their superior, because he did the same to make it
were he is now .... . And human resources, well, just hire more young and
eager high potentials and throw out the old. I've worked in those
environments. So in the long run competition comes to an end.

On the other hand, co-operation, as in a family, a tribe, a small town
makes a safer environment, less stress, more specialisation. Co-operation
creates space to make mistakes. But too much co-operation stops
innovating, change, renewal, makes complacent. Co-operation may lead to
monopolies or agreements on standards that drive out competitors.
Co-operation leads to structures, principles, rules. In the long run
co-operation stiffles improvement. As Robert Axelrod in The Evolution of
Co-operation has shown: co-operation will dominate an (simple) environment
in the end, but they are all clones with the same behaviour.

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

At first I thought that competion and co-operation were two extremes of
the same scale, but then i was inspired to think: maybe they are two
scales: low and high competition and low and high co-operation. Maybe
there are four situations (low co low co, low co high co, high co low co
and high co high co), maybe we are to compete in one area and co-operate
in another?

For instance: we start out in low co-operation and low competion. Then
gradually competition rises, grows, takes over; then we reach the end of
high competion, stress grows, and are forced back to our old position or
... co-operation starts to grow. After some time competition decreases and
co-operation remains high or.... both remain high, a complex interaction
of competing and co-operating forces in dynamical balance.

A situation of high competion/ low co-operation would mark a new
environment, an area of opportunity, a new frontier. A situation of low
competion / high co-operation would mark a stable environment, a conquered
space, a Middle Age. When we "see", experience only these two transitions,
we might think they are coupled on the same scale. A situation of both
competition and co-operation, growing out of hand, would be much more
complex, would require a set of high skilled "scripts", interactions,
multiple-roles, a complexing environment for a primitive man. As i try to
make sense of what is happening, i guess that a more complex situation is
preferred over a less complex one.

The most complex situation would be one in which there is on the one hand
much competion (as our current environment in the IT-world, the media, the
sports) and at the same time much co-operation (currently, at least here
in The Netherlands, on social issues, schools, insureances, between
churches). And we are continuously rebalancing: when too much competion
starts to have averse effects, we start to be more co-operative; when
co-operation makes things too easy, competion grows. Co-competion
evolves, were competitors start to co-operate (for instance in the arena
of sports: sporting clubs co-operation together against media). Also
comp-operation starts (for instance in tele-communications with the break
down of state owned enterprises generates a very dynamis interaction). I'd
propose the term paradoxation for these situations.

I see, feel and think it is not competition that is the problem, for in
the short run it works fine. Also, it is not co-operation that is the
problem, at least not in the long run. It is the dynamics of these
continuously rebalancing processes that we desire to operate consiously.
There is a paradox here: in order to compete better, we are forced
co-operate and in order to co-operate better, we are forced to compete.
And the measure we are used to use are changed in the process. Every step
in whatever direction creates more turbulence and chaos. There is constant

Take co-re

Jan Lelie

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan)
LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development -
Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Gearing Your Cre@ive Mind  
+ (31) 70 3243475 Fax: idem GSM: + (31) 654685114

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