Hi Siddiqif,

Glad to hear that you found my response somewhat useful.

Some other methods that come to mind, with regard to identifying strong performers:

*Extant data: Records like previous performance appraisals, customer surveys, sales reports etc. are a good source for obtaining information on performers who consistently perform above the average.

*Surveys: It is not too difficult to implement a survey within your organization and identify key stakeholders. One of the questions could be "Who do you go to when you have an issue with --------" If a person's name consistently surfaces, then he/she is likely to be a good performer. You can then interview them directly to get their opinions.

*Competency analysis: Analyze the behavior of some good performers and break it down in terms of competencies that characterize optimal performers. This will enable you to see which skills are lacking in some people, and you can then undertake specific training/non-training interventions.

*360 degree evaluations are a hot thing these days. Get someone evaluated by seniors, peers and juniors to identify what they are doing right.

As a HR representative, you should be able to approach people with a high degree of confidentiality and extract these kinds of information.

A word of caution though, identifying strong performers is easier and preferable to finding out who weak performers are.

For example, if you ask people to rate others on a scale of 1-5, people rarely will speak ill of their colleagues and would try to rate everyone as 3,4 or 5. This doesn't give you any useful information at all.

Instead try a positive approach, by asking them to rate one person who they would approach if they had a work related problem, and this will get you useful information like, who is knowledgable about something etc.

Take care,


From United States, La Jolla
Hello, This theory fits only for the armed forces and other government departments where chamchagiri outwits performance. harikeyel
From India, Thiruvananthapuram
So, forced ranking is fitting the people under the curve?
Whats the advantage/ reason for using forced ranking? I guess because my own company is a public sector organization and is large in size, forced ranking makes reward management easier

From Pakistan,
just aClearly, the performance management process is not working at your organization. Scrap your current system of forced ranking, but be sure to keep the concept of performance management intact.

Forced ranking may work for some organizations. But it can be very risky--you must delicately balance your company�s vision and organizational strategies while performing activities that support them. Forced ranking systems are difficult to communicate, tough to administer and rarely simple to execute. Ultimately, strive for simplicity in managing performance. Few corporate cultures truly can weather an approach that devastates morale, with employees essentially competing among themselves for coveted higher rankings.

The most important thing to remember is that all processes aimed at managing performance should adhere to three simple and basic principles. They must:

Link to your company�s vision.

Support your business strategies: the tactical �what you do� portion of your vision. Strategies normally disseminate from the top down into each department, business unit, division, etc., and define the individual performance criteria against which employees are managed.

Be simple to use and be practiced regularly. Your managers and employees should discuss performance often. Make sure there are no surprises. Performance management works best when employees know exactly what they have done well (or poorly), and how their activities clearly relate to whatever financial incentives are offered.

This ideal process is simpler to execute than forced ranking, but it takes time to define and build, not to mention a commitment from your top management as well as your employees. You also must make a commitment to training, and communicate the process to ensure consistency and efficiency. Ideally, performance management should tie into other aspects of managing talent, including job descriptions, performance review forms, and your overall compensation philosophy and programs.

Regardless of the process you adopt, pay special attention to any concerns, likes and dislikes voiced by your employees. This could lead you to discover new opportunities for improving the process as you get feedback. Listening t

little something on disadvantages of forced ranking...

From India, Mumbai
An interesting thread - thank you all who contributed.

Some thoughts and observations spring to mind.

If you have a performance scoring system that looks for below average, average and above average, how can you be sure that even the 'above average' are actually good enough? Such a scoring system is relative - it's all about scores relative to each other - in effect ranking everybody. The No 1 person can still be below required performance.

I believe the normal distribution curve can be a distraction here - what we in the UK call a 'red herring' meaning that it takes your attention away from the real issue.

If you have a selection and hiring process that virtually always brings you good quality hires and by definition these people are above the minimum required standard, depending upon your scoring system, you may have no kind of curve at all! Trying to force the distribution in to a normal one is possible - it can be manipulated - but only by changing something fundamental in your processes.

If you manage to develop and use a scoring system that both ensures a minimum acceptable standard of employee AND is able to produce sufficient definition that it is possible to plot a distribution, whether it is skewed or normal can tell you something about the nature of your processes used to measure and/or deliver performance.

Those of you familiar in detail with the tools and concepts within Six Sigma and Statistical Process Control will know that a normal distribution represents a process that is stable and in control - exhibiting common cause variation - i.e. the variation is random, natural and entirely the product of the process concerned. To improve the distribution in the sense of reducing variation - i.e. making the curve more 'peaked' means changing the process concerned. A skewed distribution will tell you that something in particular is dominating - what is known as special cause variation. It could be variation in the measurement system itself or any of the inputs to the process and/or constraints upon it. Usually to reduce variation you will be focusing on something outside of the process.

Be wary of getting overly concerned with distributions of any kind, and more concerned with ensuring that as many employees as possible exceed minimum standards of performance.Once you have achieved this then it is time to start getting in to the detail!

Kind regards


From United Kingdom,
The initial question raised was quite simple, but the responses revealed the complexity of the subject matter.
The curve referred to as "bell" refers to the "normal distribution curve". It got its popular "bell curve" name from the shape of the curve that it created.
The use or application of the curve in performance management has nothing to do with its real statistical definition. The curve simply became a good tool to rationalize organizational rankings (forced ranking) and benefits distribution/ entitlements.
As such, to answer the original question: the answer is YES. You can skew, depending on the intent or objective of your organization. But be sure that you can explain and defend your action. Never go back to the original definition of the normal distribution curve because it will not support your action.
Best wishes.
Ed Llarena, Jr.
Managing Partner
Emilla Consulting

From Philippines, Parañaque
I found this article useful..
Take a look at it.
Sankalp Patnaik

From India, Bangalore
Namaskar. Very very appropriate illustration.

From India, Delhi

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