Employee Ranking Systems LO17440

Mon, 16 Mar 1998 22:52:05 -0800

Replying to LO17219 --

Concerned about the heat to light ratio of this thread, Rick writes:
> [Host's Note: Hmm... Let's step back and notice what's happening here.
> Notice some of the feelings and how they are expressed after a long
> exchange which didn't convince either "side" to change their mind. Now,
> from long experience, I am absolutely sure that Rol *is* open to new ideas
> and that Roxanne *is* respectful of others' opinions, and the clash is not
> that anyone is just stubborn. It strikes me that there is something big
> going on here. If we are serious about this, we'll go for it, but what is
> it? What would it take to make a break through?

> Ben has offered a case study as another avenue. That might be productive.

> My insertion here is not a gripe about Gene's msg or any other...

> Could someone please try to summarize, and do so fairly, what are the key
> issues here? What's kept this thread so vigorous without a clean
> resolution? I hope we are serious enough to keep at it; I think there's
> gold in here somewhere. ... Rick]

Well, this isn't much of a summary, but:

Point: Fred Nickols has eloquently argued that rating/ranking systems are
too hard to get right, and extremely damaging when you don't, and besides
there are more cost-effective and safer alternatives (I hope that's not
too much of a distortion or oversimplification, Fred).

Counterpoint: Ben Compton stoutly defends his claim that a good ranking
system is not only OK, but essential for a healthy, competitive company
(ditto, Ben).

Other participants seem to cluster around one or the other, or
occasionally offer something in between.

As Rick says, I'd like to step back a bit, and ask some engineer-style
questions about the context of the argument:
- What goals are companies trying to achieve with ranking systems or
alternatives to them?
- What are the constraints under which these goals must be pursued?
- What are the various tools for achieving these goals?
- What are the desired effects of these tools, and what are the avoidable
and unavoidable side effects?
- In what contexts can a given tool be successfully used?

I use the word "tool" loosely here; read "process", "system", "technique",
or whatever works best for you.

Don't take the questions themselves too literally; I'm just trying to
change the focus of the discussion to a cooperative, investigative one
(and maybe even synthetic, if that's not too much to hope for).

As to "What's kept this thread so vigorous without a clean resolution?": I
think it hits close to home with everyone who's ever worked in a company
and been subject to a process that determines their raises. It might be
useful for people to consider, and even post, the feelings that lead them
to be so energetic in arguing their positions.


Don Dwiggins "Man can make System great, SEI Information Technology but System cannot make Man great" d.l.dwiggins@computer.org -- Confucius

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