Well, it had to happen sooner or later – according to Business Week
[which is on the internet, so BadConsultant knows it must absolutely be true]
Yahoo, one of a handful of companies that defined the internet during the 1990s, has adopted performance management practices from
[wait for it…]
Yes, that’s right, as they reach to reclaim their crown
[as what, we’re not quite sure – I mean, in this day and age, wanting to be the best search engine is a little like wanting to be the best horse and cart that NASA has ever seen, isn’t it?]
they’re looking to the magic elixir of forced ranking to bring back their mojo.
Forced ranking: loosely interpreted as
[something lots of sycophants claimed worked for Jack Welch – an old, white dude without much hair – so it must be a new orthodoxy]
fire the bottom 10%.
To which, BC calls BS.
Well, it all comes down to sample sizes, really. You see, in a large enough
[and ‘normal’ – as in statistically normal, not societally normal]
population, it’s likely that there will be 10% of the population who significantly underperform compared to the average, and 10% who significantly outperform the average
[this section brought to you by Gauss… Gauss, for when individualization is just too messy!]
however there are major errors of assumption present in viewing organizations as behaving ‘normally’
- human beings are not standardized, reproducible units
- bell curves reflect a closed, consistent system that responds to context
- few organizations are large enough to experience statistical validity in any sub-unit (think division, department, team)
- underperformers rarely do any significant damage – those who do are more likely walked off-site immediately
- it’s unlikely that under performers will be replaced by high performers, hiring for averageness is much more likely
Which leads to the biggest error of assumption of all
[so we’re going to give it it’s own line, in CAPS no less…]
MOST EMPLOYEES DO ONLY JUST ABOUT ENOUGH TO GET BY
We’ve written about this before, and it’s mentioned in #businessweek
[hipster use of hashtags is, apparently, all the rage]
in any organization a very small set of high-performers radically outperform the average – they’re the ones who have breakout ideas, the ones who reimagine existing processes to shift operating paradigms, the ones who can motivate a team in the most painful of turnarounds, the ones who…
Well, you get the drift.
[careful, more caps coming]
RANDOMNESS/LUCK PLAYS A GREATER PART IN THEIR SUCCESS THAN THEY, OR YOU, ARE WILLING TO ADMIT
See, the thing is, humans attribute any successful outcome to their own performance, anything that fails is more often attributed to circumstances
[or Bob in the next cubicle – f**ker]
And that’s where forced ranking really breaks down:
- 10% at either end of the scale is delusional
- 10% at the lowest end might well be lucky enough to at the other end next time around
- 10% at the highest level might well be failing at that time
It’s all delusional
[this section brought to you by Schizophrenia… Schizophrenia, when one version of reality simply isn’t enough!]
and, bottom line, asking the wrong question.
See, the real question is
How is every member of this organization using their strengths to catalyze random/lucky opportunities, every day, to strengthen business performance?
Wouldn’t it serve Yahoo better to ask this question than to dogmatically apply out-dated witch-hunt paradigms?