I’ve been doing some video chats for CareerBuilder, and they’re pretty fun. We use a combination of Google Hangouts and Twitter, and what you end up with is a crazy and interesting mix of video and interactive tweets.
We discussed talent management strategies and techniques in the last episode. Tim Sackett makes an offhanded comment that he likes forced ranking.
Now, listen, I have four cats. I rank them on a regular and ongoing basis. Emma is the best all around, Jake loves me the most, Molly is the smartest, and Roxy is the new baby. They all have strengths and weaknesses. But the order of “who is the best” changes based on my mood, and honestly, how much those cats are bringing it on a daily basis.
If you told me I had to line my cats up and rank them, and then cut the bottom x%, I would say—they’re all great and your rules are stupid. It’s not like I’m going to replace my cats with better cats. They’re cats. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
And that’s how I feel about your talented people. Even old school blue chip companies–and brutal sales teams that love blood and sport—have ditched this model for something a little more humane.
I know we want to push our teams to achieve new goals. I know you want an awesome workforce. But Tim’s words had me thinking that everything old becomes new again. Forced ranking might one day come back in vogue. I would just warn you that it’s nice to look back at something simple like forced ranking and say, well, it worked for Jack Welch.
Nothing comes from forced ranking except fear and loathing in the hearts and minds of your employees. Fire people who suck, reward people who do a good job, and stop ranking and stacking people (or cats) for the sport of it.