Ranking employees against one another unhealthy

Many large organisations here carry out annual performance appraisals of their employees by ranking them according to a bell curve and classifying them into categories.

Those in the top categories get a reward for good performance, and those in the bottom categories are identified for reprimand or termination.

The experience in implementing this system has been rather poor.

As the employees are ranked and slotted into categories, it leads to unhealthy competition.

This produces non-cooperation, unwillingness to teach or assist colleagues, back-stabbing and what is generally described as "office politics".

However, without an appraisal system, employees may slacken and become complacent.

An alternative is to measure the volume of work or transactions and the quality of work.

The performance is deemed satisfactory if the employee is able to achieve the expected volume of work at an expected quality.

This system can also identify the good performers and poor performers without ranking employees against one another.

This may encourage teamwork as colleagues can help one another to achieve "above average" performance.

A high proportion of "above average" performers may suggest that the standard is set too low. The standard can be reviewed when necessary by looking at the average for the industry.

There are jobs that cannot be easily measured in this way, for example, when the work is non-standard and transactions cannot be counted.

In this case, the performance of these employees should be decided by the supervisor.

Tan Kin Lian

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