Hello Ed:

>The use of certain tools, theories, techniques, systems, etc. in managing and/ or running organizations is an entirely the prerogative of individual managers.<

But it should not be up to the individual manager to pick and choose the tools they use. Organizations that allow individual managers to make such decisions also allow each manager to put the assets of the organization at great risk.

>The perception of whether they are good, bad, effective, or ineffective is subjective to the individuals concerned.<

Again, individual managers are all too often ill-prepared and unable to evaluate the effectiveness of their own behavior.

>Some things that others may consider good or effective may not be to you.<

Then the manager should find another employer.

>In the absence of an internationally accepted standard or matrix, whom can we believe as having the better perspective and judgment.<

The manager's boss and the boss' boss.

>I don's agree with your perception that the Bell Curve is very easy to understand and that it can be done fast.<

It need not be understood to be used. PCs can do the work so it is easy to use.

>... they implemented the Bell Curve as a performance tool that they really determined the exact quantities of performers per rating according to the prescribed quantities or percentages assigned by their management.<

That may be but we don't need to use a Bell Curve to be an effective manager.

>I am not a supporter nor an advocate of the Bell Curve and Forced Ranking.<

That surprises me.

>What I said is simply my explanation of how I understood its usefulness to organizations after many years of implementing it in one of the companies that I worked for before.<

If it is useful, then you should advocate its use unless you have better methods and tools.

>Supervisors and Managers are expected to do their jobs daily. Their day to day jobs is to supervise and manage people. And managing includes teaching, coaching, and implementing corrective or disciplinary action when warranted.<

I agree.

>Periodic and/ or annual appraisals...<

I agree I just don't think Bell Curves help managers manage.

>I think you should understand the Bell Curve from the point of view of business owners.<

Many business owners and their managers do things that counterproductive but that doesn't mean I have to agree or even overlook what they do.

>When you do, then you will gladly show the curve to every employee that will complain why they did not get their expected promotion and/ or cash reward.<

Does that help the employee to work more effectively?

>Those who use the Bell Curve in such a manner that ratings are changed as a consequence of the forced ranking, they deserve to be told and be made to understand the entire process. Otherwise, those who were shown their initial high ratings by their immediate supervisor will curse and accuse their supervisors of lying if they will not be promoted and given cash rewards for the ratings they initially saw.<

That is a sure sign that the managers are incompetent.

>You have a unique way of seeing and understanding things differently in organizational environments. You are incorrect but entitled to your own negative views.<

Do you blame the employees?

Who hires employees?

Who assigns employees to their jobs?

Who decides if employees stay on the job?

Who decides what training employees receive?

Who is responsible for effectively managing employees?

The answer to all these questions is the employee's employer through its managers.

>The Bell Curve is the "normal distribution curve" in statistics.<

An employer that has its employees performing their jobs in a normal distribution should ask themselves why that is true.

>That's why it is able to camouflage its real motives.<

Yes, it camouflages the real motives of managers---to avoid doing the hard work of managing.

>You must study logic to improve your perception and understanding of things around you.<

I have studied logic, statistics, and management and I disagree with using the Bell Curve as a substitute for managing.

>Things are not necessarily wrong when they don't fit your mindset and/ or agree with your ways of looking at things.<

That is so true but then again it doesn't make you wrong either.

>Your real exposure must have been in very small organizations whose employees do not reach thousands.<

No supervisor should supervise more people than they can effectively manage so your observation is unhelpful.

>There is a popular maxim in capitalist societies that runs this way: HE WHO HAS THE GOLD RULES! <

I agree but does that mean we have to agree with them even when they do dumb things?

>I said that many organizations are managed using the principle of "operational convenience" or "expediency".<

I agree, managers do what is easy for them and they don't care too much about the effectiveness until the boss gets on their back about the ineffectiveness.

>Hired **** in organizations are simply implementors of the business owners.<

As outside observers we should tell the emperor he has no clothes when he is naked. Internal observers need to be very careful however.

>You are FREE to implement the mandates of the shareholders.<

Yes, even when the mandates are counterproductive I might add.

>Otherwise,you have to get out and create your own organization and manage it the way you want it. But for as long as you are employed, your only option ti to follow the rule!<

We agree on that.

My advice to managers and wannabe managers is to get a formal education in management so that you don't learn the wrong things from your managers.

Thanks again for an interesting reply.

Bob Gately

From United States, Chelsea
Hi All,
If anyone has detailed presentation to learn Bell Curve (step by step), it will really be helpful for many of us to understand it better. Please share the same.
Thanks Ed for the reply. Since it is newly implemented in our organization, not many of our managers are clear. They only know about bell curve in general and 70:20:10 ratio. I wanted to understand it fully, so that I will be in a better position to explain to my team and if required to check with HR as well. I liked your reply, thanks once again for that.
Shiv D

From India, Visakhapatnam
As most of the HR Professionals feel, I too have the strong feeling that the bell curve cannot be used for performance appraisal as it requires the direct involvement of the personnel concerned. Further, many of the organisational heads pressurise the HR personnel to follow bell curve. Is there any avenue available to educate the top brass?
From India, Selam
Very good informations shared. Thanks to all..But this can all be clear if we can have one presentation on Performance Appraisal Analysis.. :) I hope some one can come up with same..Regards,Akshatha
From India, Mumbai
Easy understanding of forced distribution.

four category of people come under the bell curve they are Excellent,Good,Average,and Poor.

Here the Performance of Excellent and Good are more or less similar its like 100 and 99.5 it can not be easily identified by the supervisor any how he want to give the two rank for the two people ex: A - good and B- excellent.

As like the same Average and Poor ex: C and D are more or less same performance but the supervisor want to give the rank for C and D

Problem in this method

the problem arise during the promotion and the termination of employment

here the B may be a excellent performer and he is forced to be a good performer and lose the promotion. the "A" may get the promotion

As the same the "D" may be average performer and he is insisted to terminate the employment by puting him the poor category. and the "C" may get the job though he is a poor performer.

Most common the supervisors did'nt like this system.Because they are forced to do this system.

GE is the first company which introduce this system

From India
I agree wid MDTALHA, wid some addition. There are 5 category. rated from 1 till 5 (where 5 being the best). The distribution of manpower is mostly in the following way:

5 - 5%
4 - 10%
3 - 65%
2 - 15%
1 - 5%

The ratings are arrived basis the individuals perfformance in the last financial year. It's taken the annualizes rating.

As far as the organisation I work for does not terminate poor performer basis the ratings, however there is no financial reward and growth opportunity for the 1 & 2 rating people. But for 3,4& 5 rating employees are eligible for applying for next level growth. No additional benifit is given for being 5 in growth aspect. One have to perform and show his/her capabilities to get to the next level. The only way to reward for being excellent performer is by giving hike in salary, which means the people with 5 rating will get higher hike in compared to 4 or 3. There is again another cath. Incase there was any salary fitmet or hike done before the the PMS salary revise takes effect it will be adjusted. The approach note of PMS differ from company to company and PMS widely means organisation give the employee an annual feedback on his/her work & conduct. Salary hike is an add on to it, to motivate te employees.


From India, New Delhi
Dear Ed,
Though I liked your views, would also add that in a department wise rating every department will be asked to rate and rank their performers in a sequence. Then as per the bell curve policy (agreed distribution) every department will form its mini bell curve which should essentially allign with the larger bell curve. Later, at the time of overall normalization still some tweaking will be done by HR in consultation with line managers.
Hope I am making sense. If you disagree you can email me on

From India, Delhi
Can someone provide a small practical working example of forced ranking in excel. It will help most of us, as philosophy of bell curve etc is readily available on net.
From India, Mumbai
Hi Shiv,
I read your posts on concepts of forced ranking and bell curve. they made the concept very simple to understand. i am a part of a very large real estate company and we wish to start an appraisal system here..it has never been done before in the last so many years that the company has operatied for whatever reasons. the managmenet here understands peroframnce appraisal only as a tool for increment..so can we introduce forced ranking here..employee strngth is good i.e. more than 500..
please let know
thank you

From India, Mumbai
Very good discussion on this topic. I congratulate all the contributors. Good day. shijit.
From India, Kochi

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