Every year The Bell Curve makes an entry pushing managers to put people into buckets of high, medium and low performance.
I haven't met a single person who loves the bell curve because of its effectiveness. It's usually used because it provides a framework, has numbers involved and it's easy to present to top management.
The good news is that I met a non-conformist HR Leader (endangered specie - if I may say so) who is not only going to get the bell curve out of the annual appraisal process but also delink the the performance review with annual salary increments. Alarm Bells....
I know. You might be thinking that then what is point of doing performance reviews?
Well according to the non-conformist 'Salary increment and other cash benefits need to be linked with company profitability. Performance reviews need to aligned with people development, job enrichment and possible promotions'
Hmmm..Personally, I love the idea. Because having lead an HR team for a Bank, I have seen what bell curve and similar fitting into buckets frameworks do to people. It does the job but also brings out the worst in people.
On the other hand, organizations like Google have used very simple techniques like OKR - Objectives and Key Results to gauge performance from day 1 very effectively. Also, Companies such as Eli Lily, Sears and Gap have taken ratings entirely out of their performance management system.
So what to do?
Are we ready to take this leap and get the bell curve out? Delink ratings with salary increments?!Use performance management system to have a performance dialogue not a salary dialogue?