Employee Ranking Systems LO17283

Tom Christoffel (tjcdsgns@head.globalcom.net)
Wed, 4 Mar 1998 20:40:25 -0500

Replying to LO17143 --

Note: I've been working on this for sometime as you can tell by the
starting reference. The more I participate on this list, the more I reach
for the dictionary. Tom

> > Doesn't our beloved God preclude the use of employee ranking systems by
> > saying "Thou shalt not judge"?

Biblical wisdom like, "Judge not lest ye be judged" and "He who is without
fault may cast the first stone" are warnings to the human ego. In our
society we are called on to participate in such judgement only when we
serve on a jury. I did that many years ago and learned much. There is a
ranking system - the benchmarks are the laws on the books. Guilt or
innocence is judged in relation to the law. Due process technicalities can
take, it seems, precedence over the actual criminal charge (crossing of
the boundary, the law) and allow apparent lawbreakers to go free. In our
society due process is the highest priority. The means are more important
that the end. The reading I get from the evaluation systems deemed useful
is that due process contributed most to success.

What is the goal of evaluation and ranking? I do not think it is judgement
in the biblical sense. It is more the first definition, with three parts,
found in the American Heritage Dictionary - 1.a the mental ability to
perceive and distinguish relationships or alternatives; the critical
facility; discernment. b. The capacity to make reasonable decisions,
especially in regard to the practical affairs of life; good sense; wisdom.
c. The exercise of this capacity.

As a boss and asset manager, in my daily affairs, I try to discern
relative value among choices, including the assignment of tasks to
employees, contractors and or taking on things myself. For me the purpose
of evaluation is to help the individual and the organization be

Assuming that everyone wants to be successful, we know that can best be
done when people work in their areas of talent and strength. In many
organizations, the high producers don't get more money than their peers.
Recognition through evaluation is a way to reward people. Evaluation in an
open environment is what my goal has been, but it is not easy. I find
people generally super-sensitive to anything that hints at criticism -
something they take as judgement of them as having failed. However, just
concentrating on positives didn't work either. Telling them they were
good, did not lead them to improve in the areas where they were weak.

When I became more honest in the evaluations, some changed and some left.
I've had a chance to bring in new people with a different set of skills
that match the way we need to work. Still - people do the parts of their
work they like most, and ignore those pieces they don't like.

It is our weaknesses which we feel hurt us and can limit success, but in
the spectrum of paradox - strength can be weaknesses and weaknesses a
strength. Some are cosmetic - changed through awareness and others may
seem genetic they are so ingrained.

I believe the value of a team approach is having people work in positions
that use their strengths and, within the organization, seeking balance
against individual weaknesses. With a small organization 6-7 people, I may
never get a 7*24 "Dream Team" that covers every base all the time, but by
evaluating for strengths and weaknesses I believe I can keep our
owners/customers mostly satisfied and sustain our work program for
regional cooperation.

When the environment changes or you loose a team member, then readjustment
is necessary. Nothing works forever. There news to be renewal - strength
becomes weakness, the first are last and the last, if they've been
learning, get a shot at first.

Ranking can work(it seems from the discussion) if it doesn't become a
caste system. I think it helps to have people focus on achieving their own
personal best, which is the basis of whatever personal power they have and
can contribute to the team. Some people are overly critical of themselves
and others have an exaggerated sense of themselves. Most people, however,
are able to place themselves properly on the scale, with a slight uptick.
Like the "Lake Woebegone Effect" where all the men are handsome, the women
are strong, and the children above average, most value themselves.
Critically aware ones can change themselves and move up or down against
their/the benchmark.

Everything outside our work is ranked - athletic teams, race car drivers,
cars, food, etc. - lots of systems. It is sporting in a way to compete,
whether it is athletics, Oscars, Grammies or being the first to have a
complete set of XXX. There is an option for up or down movement. Rank is
determined by performance. The need to be first or high ranking leads
people to invent things that can be entered in the Guiness Book of World

The real competition is in the environment outside the organization.
Cooperation within should lead to success in competition outside. Paying
attention to both environments and recognizing that both cooperation and
competition are human and, manageable without harm to life, is a balance
that is, to me an attainable vision. I see it as Peace Dynamic - a forward
movement of living things and their organizations.

Thomas J. (Tom) Christoffel * e-mail: tjcdsgns@shentel.net
My mission: "Regions_Work!" 
Why?  "All markets are regional and the economy is global. Two or more
crossing boundaries to solve a problem is regional cooperation."
*TJCdesigns * Box 1444 * Front Royal, Virginia (VA) 22630-1444 * "True peace
is dynamic. For sustainability, design with re-use in mind." 

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