Employee Ranking Systems LO17285

Richard Karash (rkarash@karash.com)
Thu, 5 Mar 1998 01:05:33 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO17244 --

I'll try to answer my own question. It was, more or less, "Here we have a
thread with lots of energy, but little apparent change in views. Why?"

I think employee ranking is a *genuine* dilemma:

A. One one hand, we are aware that evaluations, performance appraisals
and employee ranking can have serious negative effects on people.

- We've talked about demotivating, stiffling creativity, reducing
cooperation, and worse.
- We've talked about the problems in assessing with accuracy and
validity. And about people "gaming" the measures. Problems with assessment
quality increase the dangers that we'll do damage.
- We have not talked about the quality of communication in performance
reviews, but Bob Putnam says these are likely to be "error inducing, error
magnifying" conversatons, not error correcting.
- We remember the Hippocratic oath, "Do no harm...," which I think should
apply to managers, coaches, and consultants as well as physicians.

B. On the other hand, as managers, we have to manage performance!

- That means we have to assess performance, pick people (one form of
ranking) for roles, and more.
- We feel compelled to try to do something effective with our
assessments, including give feedback, give coaching, reward based on
performance in order to motivate high performance, record PA results, etc.
- As a manager in high-tech (my former life), I felt it absolutely
necessary to do these things.
- Even if we are an enlightened manager, and are willing not to have
"control" of everything, these things are still important.
- Rol and others have described the managerial imperative very clearly.

So, it's a dilemma: We have to manage performance, but doing so may carry
grave dangers.

My Conclusions:

1. If we are going to assess, rank, and communicate performance
information, we should do so with very high quality. To me, this means
using the most valid measures possible, giving immediate feedback, opening
the process, making it two-way (not just downward).
2. If we cannot do so with quality, the negatives may outweigh the

-- Rick

      Richard Karash ("Rick")    |  <http://world.std.com/~rkarash>
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