Thursday, November 14, 2013

Does your workplace practice Curvebell Ranking Appraisal?

I remember the days when I had to take classes and exams that used the curvebell system to determine one's grade. This means that even if you scored 80 out of a 100, you may still score a C, provided the rest are as or more competitive than you do. Those were the days.

Moving to working environment, I've always thought that only the investment banking and the front sales people get graded based on their performance metrics. That means the more sales you pull in for the company, the more commission you make and the better your appraisal at the end of the year. That's at least what everyone thinks right. But if you are those working in the back or middle office, do you still need such a system? Can't it be a system where everyone works in tandem and improve and help each other? What is the need for such competitive environment for people working in the back office?

This article shows that Microsoft used to have such a system for their employee's grading appraisal. To me, it is just plain brainless for them to begin that system in the first place. Competition, in a sense, is healthy. I don't see any wrong in pushing the employees to be at their best feet all the time. But in such environment you usually get a lot of politics, unhappiness and back-stabbing in the process. Not the type of working environment I am completely comfortable at. Luckily enough, Microsoft realised it and they are changing the grading system. Now it sounds like a much better environment to work at with One-Microsoft Strategy (sounds exactly like the project I had at my current company)

What do you think? Does a competitive environment brings the best out of the employees?


  1. Quite a number of Singapore companies have adopted this mechanism of ranking staff performance. When the key performance indicators are transparent and clearly defined(e.g. sales office), this mechanism works well. However, for cost center units (like hr or support staff) where KPIs are pretty grey, it becomes a problem. It gives rise to favoritism and heavy handed office politics. Productivity will drop. I hope the CEOs of these companies understand the full impact of this rating mechanism and not to blindly implement something that he or she does not understand.

    1. Hi Anonymous

      Support staffs are at the mercy of the management. These are the process that will eventually become obsolete and will be offshored to cheaper countries in the near future. In fact, a lot of the companies (even my current company) are already practicing offshoring the Finance, HR and IT staff to India as they costs much cheaper per headcount. And to be honest, you don't really need the support staff to be extremely productive as long as they can churn out the necessary. That should give us an indication of how the management look at support staff as the backbone of the company.

  2. Its a common grading system. My company uses it too. We call it the bell curve. Every year the bosses have to grade us in terms if band 1-5. Band 1 being the best and band 5 the worst. Our bonus and increment are then based on that banding. This is like going back to primary school. Lol

    From my observations, the band 4 and 5 people will give up working hard after awhile and do lesser work since they know every year they get low banding. In the end the upper band people will have to work more to maintain their banding. Its a system where you have to sacrifice one to reward another. If one person is band one, there will be another one with band 5. It will cause a lot of unhappiness every year during appraisal period.

    1. in the corporate world, it's all about connection and relations and who you are, much lesser on your capabilities.
      in short, for the support staff or people at the bottom of the lot, it's a dog eat dog world.
      sillyporeans are killing among themselves while others come in and eat the pie, the grand plot all under the veil call globalization.

      only in singapore, people would do more for less.

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