Workforce Management has tons of articles full of content. So I gotta wonder why they posted Forced Ranking Could Improve Business Performance. In the article, it says,
“Forced ranking, the study finds, is more successful in the first several years of implementation.”
Well, duh. If you force rank — even once — the people who find this offensive leave. (I did when I worked for a VP who believed in forced ranking.) So, you quite successfully build a culture where forced ranking is valued. In my experience, you create a cut-throat culture, where it matters more who gets ahead rather than making great products. If you continue to force rank, it's possible you can improve the generate state:
- You actually do improve the productivity of the people who are left because you got rid of the people who weren't performing.
- You obtain feedback about your hiring so you hire fewer people who need to be fired.
But here's what I've seen most often with forced ranking:
- People working in a CYA (cover your tush) way.
- People not taking risks — because to take a risk exposes the very real possibility of being fired.
- Managers consciously hiring not-so-great employees every so often, so they'd have someone to fire.
- People working to maximize their review/evaluation, not for the good of the company or the product.
I find it incredible that these professors published conclusions based on a simulation. What would be worse is to use forced ranking because some academics (whom are not subject to forced ranking) probably need a paper to publish.
Managers need to provide effective feedback weekly to their employees. If you give feedback, coaching where appropriate, and use a reasonable evaluation system, you don't need to use forced ranking. Forced ranking delivers precisely what you don't want: people working for their own betterment. Forced ranking is the coward's way to manage people.