Employee Ranking Systems LO17278

Eugene J Bujalski (EUGENE.J.BUJALSKI@cdev.com)
04 Mar 1998 11:53:38 -0600

Replying to LO17244

Rick, thanks for your timely, on-target list moderator's comments as a
gloss on my post (LO71219). Roxanne, thanks for your gracious response
(LO17244) to my somewhat testy remarks. I've followed the exchange on
rating/ranking with great interest, and have been impressed by the
vigorous participation. In response to Rick's request for a summary of
what's been happening, I offer the following:

Why the passion? I think that this thread has tapped into some very
basic feelings about people in organizations - - with one segment of
posts in the thread falling more philosophically into the "people" side
of that phrase, another segment more aligned with the "organization"

Let me explain. Those on the "people" side would probably agree with
Edwards Deming's point of view that individual performance ratings deny
the reality of the negative impact that imperfect organizational
processes have on individual performance, and also neglect the team work
within which most individual performance is embedded. A strong element
of the driving force for this train of thought is, I think, the
compelling vision of a better organizational world in which individuals
pursue their "personal best" without invidious comparisons with others,
unlocking their potential to create and achieve.

Those on the "organizational" side (one might call them "organizational
pragmatists") emphasize the multiple real-world demands for tools like
ranking or rating that help organizations make decisions on how to reward
for achievement or make other organizational decisions. I would place
myself more on this side of the dialogue, although I deeply respect
Deming's point of view as an ideal condition, one perhaps requiring
heroic means to reach and maintain, if it is at all attainable for most
larger organizations.

How would each side view the other? The "people" side might view the
"organizational pragmatists" as lacking the vision and spirit to create
the very processes that are best for people (why don't they "get it"?),
while the "organizational pragmatists" might view the other side as
visionaries who have not been involved in the real-world work of actually
implementing, maintaining, and taking responsibility for processes that
satisfy all process participants and process customers (why don't they
"wake up to reality"?).

So both sides have their points, and may concede the other side certain
of its points. We've shared different mental models, in effect. But we
in LO (on all sides of this thread) lack the one thing that could move
this dialogue to a more common understanding: the process of actually
creating and implementing a vision together to test our mental models.

If all members of this list were members of the same organization (I'm
not imagining a virtual organization here, but one with a purpose,
customers, revenue or funding, employees, offices, some sort of measure
of organizational performance, the need to hire, motivate, and retain
employees, etc.), having collective responsibility for organizational
results, and willing to live with and within the processes we create for
ourselves, then we would be able to use a more action research-based
approach to discovering the validity of our respective positions by
developing processes to implement them and observing results.

As the quality movement teaches: plan (decide what to do based on the
outcomes you want to achieve), do (try it), check (observe the degree to
which you achieved the outcomes you wanted to achieve based on metrics
generated from key process steps), act (do it again). Then repeat the
cycle till you get it right. Result: organizational learning.
Generally, what one thinks will work in a certain way in theory doesn't
work quite that way in practice, because (in linguistics terms) "the map
is not the territory". The reality we experience in application is
richer, more complex, more dense, then the models in our heads that
represent reality. So we change the models in our heads, and try again.

We've all observed (and many have participated in) the vigorous sharing
of some aspects of our mental models around rating/ranking issues and
other issues into which they link. In this sense, our LO dialogue has
been outstandingly successful. Although I've played only a very minor
role in the dialogue, I feel I've gained a lot as a result of the
insights and convictions shared by all participants.

Gene Bujalski


"Eugene J Bujalski" <EUGENE.J.BUJALSKI@cdev.com>

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