Thursday, December 10, 2009

Employee Goals & Objectives & Performance Appraisals--> Rating and Ranking Team Members - I Win You Lose?

It's that time of the year again when we all lose!

I believe in Employee Goals & Objectives when they are used by leaders to enhance the skills and productivy of the workers and help them drive the company toward their individual and overall goals and objectives.

In order to do this leaders must be skilled in setting reasonable and obtainable goals and objective for each of their emplyoyees based on the workers skill and expertise level. One size fits all is Bullshit and every leader/boss knows this, if they don't, well then you have todays leaders. The problem is setting employees goals and objectives is a year round hands on effort and it takes hard word work for the goals and objectives to be done accurately and fairly.

One subject (well there are a few) that drives me nuts is when people/organizations and assholes in general want to demoralize a “TEAM” by rating, and ranking people against one another is ridiculous.

It's that time of year again when employees are searching for ways to make themselves look better than their peers while writing up their accomplishments. This exercise will be a major input for deciding who gets pay raises and bonuses for the year, or who gets to keep their jobs.

This end of the year activity commonly known as “performance appraisal” takes place in most organizations. We all know the different names our organizations use over the years (not going to mention) for rating and ranking employees/team members so they can be herded into groups to be labeled like a bunch of school children being put in Group 1, Group 2, or Group 3 (lookout, your on the chopping block).

So just what is Rating and Ranking and how Ridiculous can Leaders be in thinking this worthless effort does any good? Here is the ultimate qualityg's acid test to ask your boss and the organization after the process is completed,

When will you be posting (Company Web Site, company paper, Email notifications, company texts, twitter or the walls of fame, etc) the top rated and ranked employees so that I may use them as a model to improve my own performance? Oh yes, please add the amount of bonus money they will be receiving so as to motivate me next year?

Should we all not be happy for the winners, we know they deserve it, they worked hard and you didn’t, they were more customer-focused, they sold more products (too bad you were given a sales area that sucks), they removed more defects from their processes and you just maintained yours with little or no defects ar surprises and gave the customer what they wanted.

Should not all our objectives say "I want to be as good as Mike or Mary becasue you gave them more bonus money. Your boss should state how much they beat the objectives set so that you know how much to improve (Yeah Sure).

Americans like winners and losers, in our schools too. Why won’t we show/announce the winners (I Won and You Lost), at least half of winners must be above average, how can we improve (below avergae) when our boss won’t even tell us who to get pointers from to help our team objectives.

We all know they won’t post the names of organization workers rating and ranking because it would depress the troops and there is no known true metrics or measures that can really do this job across a medium or large organization. In Ranking someone has to be number 1, another person number 2, somebody else number 3 and the poor somebody else at the bottom, dead last, bringing up the rear, packing up their desk, etc… is a big time loser.

Now this will happen whether you have 5 employees under you or 50. Don’t forget Rating is where the boss (and in many companies your peers) get to label you “exceedingly excellent, excellent, excellent maybe and well you all know the rest…

Then you are give a bonus based on all the ratings and rankings, plus how the company is doing and blah, blah, blah.

qualityg says…

Allow me to share one of my experiences. I was asked one year to put together a team, a team made up winners, folks who stop at nothing to get the job done, you know qualityg, “one of them skunk teams that Tom Peters talks about.” It always seems senior leaders know the latest quality buzzwords (problem is, they correlate the word to fast and faster and improve the bottom line without having any idea what they are talking about).

The first thing I needed to do was to create the aim/purpose (objectives) for my team (the boss said go out and fix things and create a customer focused operation when you leave, and you get five, maybe six people to be on your team) and individually so they all correlate to company objectives and goals.


By what method may I ask, how it was determined five or six people would be the right amount for my team?

RESPONSE from humble willing worker

“That’s your job to make the work match the people, ain’t you supposed to be the expert?”

Not sure how I replied but “Eat My Shorts” comes to mind.

Once I got focused I needed to determine the type of work and find people with the skills that were to be required to get the job done. I figure I needed two experts in our field of expertise, a strong project manager, a database and web expert, a subject matter expert (SME) who works in the field and understands process improvement (quality certification not required, just able to use common sense).

Being diverse and the ability to work with both front line workers and senior leaders was another important requirement. I thought to myself I have my Center, two Forwards (power/small) and two Guards (shooter/point). I wanted one Reserve that had a general understanding of all the other jobs so that the team would not suffer if a teammate were off ill or on vacation.

Along with those traits the person must have experience, creativity, joy in workmanship and provide jocularity (ability to have fun) in times of stress, deadlines and functional barriers. Team chemistry was a must because there would be frequent travel that required trust and integrity by all on the team.

I was fortunate to find a great team players who were willing to leave their secure jobs, where they were the top performers (I was fortunate to have worked with most of my team over the years, so I certainly went after the ones I wanted), in their work groups.

Everything was going well until Performance Appraisal time. I received all the forms and packages and was told to have my stuff in at the appropriate date. From previous years I knew what was going to happen but I thought I had made it perfectly clear to my boss that I would not take the job if I was going to have to rank and rate my team. They were all top performers who had “unique” skills that optimized the whole team (i.e., my Center need my Forwards and they all needed the Guards). The Team had bought into this concept and liked it because they could concentrate on work instead of politics.

I sent my package (added extra metrics, team and individual objectives, customer feedback, and quarterly reviews, which was not required) up with very good ratings for my whole team. My boss’, boss who made the “final” decision said no way and told me to rate them properly, that no team can have all top performers, one has to be better than the next, and besides it won’t look right when you rank your folks against the others in the department if you have all top performers.

Every year I refused to participate in rating and ranking and every year I ended up doing it because I did’t want my folks to be penalized. Fortunately I keep a Management Log that proves to be essential when it comes to rating and rankings. See my post on Management Logs at

I did the best I could; I had a team meeting and an individual meeting with the team and explained the situation. I also told them how I was going to distribute the dollars; those who did not get equivalent dollars got extra stock (it was worth something then). I also promised if we were all together next year I would make up the difference.

Fortunately I was able to make some amends, but soon after we were moved to a special project and found ourselves right back in the mess of barriers, bureaucracy and babbling idiots.

Well we got “skunked” all right, but we had fun, did a good job and cooperated with one another without competition. We saved the competition for beating our rivals in the marketplace, you must have cooperation before you can compete, and you must have the cooperation of the whole team to be a winner.

Sometimes it does not even matter if your whole team did well. When they want to get rid of a team they will call it removing the work function or moving it back to headquarters to save costs. What this really means is some of the people at headquarters lost their job so the Vice Presidents (Shooters) who barely know the people that don't work in headquarters saves his face with the people he comes in contact with each day.

Another example from qualityg on "The Demise of American Management" and the talent that our Business Schools are producing to be effective leaders.

To read more post on Employee Goals and Objectives click on the Label Below or on the left side of Blog.


Anonymous said...

When will you reveal your identity? You seem to have the pulse on a number of issues, especially this one which is the number demoralizer in my company.


qualityg says said...


Like it says in my profile it's not about me, it's about the questions and the messages.

Send me an Email if you like.


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