Of late, many employees from a technology company were asked to leave on account of non-performance. The reason not only raised concerns but it also highlighted performance appraisal practices followed by companies. While some also came into limelight for blindly following the Bell curve approach to performance appraisals. However, we have recently heard about many companies doing away from the traditional process of measuring the performance, once in a year.
What exactly is Bell Curve Performance Appraisal System?
An exercise to reward the top ten percent & motivate the middle eighty percent to over-achieve and asking the bottom ten percent laggards to leave or improve, a phenomenon also known as a bell curve.
Bell Curve was introduced at GE by the then-CEO Jack Welch. The system requires managers to put employees necessarily in performance baskets. This concept, however, does not reflect or improve the overall performance of the organization, instead it is seen as bringing more employees in the ‘Average’ performer basket to fit the model. This undue adjustment instead triggers more exits than expected. Therefore Google, Microsoft, Adobe, P&G, Infosys, TCS, IBM, KPMG & Accenture have already announced their anti-verdict on the same.
It is time to embrace the change
While there is a transition in the thought process to change this measurement methodology what is driving this shift? More HR professionals witness this as driven from the top; a phenomenon called ‘boosting the morale‘ of employees once a while, which seems to be an after-effect of unplanned exits by employees, making that not-so-expected career moves. HR is worried and nothing more than astonished at times trying to figure only out – Why would ‘this’ employee quit? As a matter of fact, most employees lie when they are confronted with their logic on leaving their present organization. So to determine their real reasons, it becomes imperative for an organization to study the behavior of their employees & also about their time being spent at the office.
All the activities are looked from the perspective of data captured at various instances and then a trend analysis is run through. Ironically, an artificial intelligence firm gathered from employee behaviour that employees tend to spend more time on their desk just before the period of deciding to resign, only to discover that this particular employee was spending time applying on various job portals and addressing recruiter queries rather than attending to his work.
Often HR is seen rolling out new strategies to Recruit, Retain, Train & Reward existing employees. However, they reflect very poorly in learning from the past mistakes. It is evident from the attrition rate and inefficient processes that tend to either consume a lot of employee work-time or tend to leave no & minimal change in the employee behaviour.
Strategizing for future is important, however equally important is shunning the load from the past. What policies will make into the Next planning Year? Should be addressed equally. It would probably be the first time that many organisations will witness as many as five generations working together & this becomes equally challenging from the perspective of understanding what the employee’s belief systems are.
The oldest of the lot are Traditionalists – One company for a lifetime and the youngest lot of millennials workforce is always looking the right fit to their thought processes. With the former being risk averse and later being risk friendly, even job hopping at times, the duration of time for their current job is subject to their engagement levels on the job & in the organisation. Therefore understanding and engaging millennials and their cultural fit are different from the traditionalists.
What the future holds?
There is a visible transition to instant-feedback approach mostly with consulting & technology organizations. The employees are continually provided feedback on their performance, thereby advancing meritorious employees purely as per performance basis. ‘Checkpoint’ by IBM is one such system providing continuous feedback and ‘Accelerate’ by Axis Bank is another such example which helped them restructure their internal process without losing sight of meritocracy & productivity. The changing nature of jobs, business models and quick-response oriented management has started this shift to real-time. This real-time mechanism results in better aligning them with their responsibility of on the job performance & contributing to overall performance in the organisation.
Although the overall and immediate effectiveness are not quantifiable, the impact will be visible in the long term only. At the same time, it is intended to do effective result driven communication amongst employees with overall goal achievement for the organization. Although efficient but very time intensive assessment can also be done through a three sixty degrees appraisal, however, the process is lengthier and resource consuming. Often feedback is delayed as it is required to be assimilated by multiple stakeholders thereby delaying the purpose of learning & development.