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Manager v/s the Bell Curve

Source | LinkedIn : By Rahoul Joshii

If everyone thinks alike, then someone is not thinking’, said George Patton, the eccentric American General of the second world war. Here is why I remember him.

Donna Morris created history when she revolutionized the Performance Appraisal Process at Adobe. And before she could turn around, a dozen other companies had followed her lead. Today, it has become a fashion to let go of your traditional Appraisals and abolish the Bell Curve.

I get a nagging sense that either people are not thinking or are acting in concert.

To me it is as clear as daylight. It is a conspiracy against the Bell curve. Conspirators are HR and the Line Man. Their vicious plot is to victimize the curve and banish it. Motive – to look good, to save themselves from trouble and discomfort. For their own safety and comfort, they conspired to overthrow the Bell Curve.

I wish to defend the case. Restore the honor and dignity of the Bell Curve. Before I start my defense, consider these facts.

1.      Appraisal is a developmental tool which is wrongly used for evaluation. We devalued it by making it evaluative. We did the same to Development Center which is now used to decide promotability or work allocations. Evaluation is a part of Appraisals but that’s not the only thing. The major emphasis is on feedback, future work and development planning.  But very few managers take time and effort to give feedback and plan development of their subordinates.

My first argument is that Appraisals is a developmental tool which is misused for evaluation. Because the focus has changed, the significance is lost, it has reduced to being a ritual and most managers even avoid that.

2.      Evaluation is a subjective phenomenon that makes managers uncomfortable. They want everything objective not realizing that nothing about human behavior is objective. As a result how-much-ever we train them, we are never able to remove subjectivity. Managers don’t like it. Many times, their push for objectivity results in creating highly complex KRAs, process, templates, forms etc. They become victim of their own devise. They don’t recognize this and blame it on the process.

So my second argument is that evaluation is a subjective phenomenon that makes managers uncomfortable. Hence they avoid it.

3.       Performance rating is also a relative entity but Manager’s rating is `absolute’. Manager’s rating of subordinate’s performance is about performance against set goals. It is therefore absolute. But when it goes in a larger pool called the department, business unit or the organization, it no longer remains absolute, it becomes relative. It gets compared to others in the department, unit, organization. Thus it becomes subject to change.

Read On…

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