When Smart Managers do Stupid Things

By  Drew Stevens, Ph.D.

Recently a friend of mine was conducting performance reviews for her staff. She has 16 direct reports and when finished all received a superlative review. With the completion of her paperwork and interviews she provided the reviews to her manager for sign off. Trouble began. Her manager indicated to her that she would need to revise all 16 reviews because no one could receive a superlative- it would hinder the firm’s bell curve. I am not making this up!

Performance is based on individual observed behavior as it correlates to both goals and organizational standards. Employees are then reviewed based on prior performance to these issues. Therefore individuals are honored for their efforts to conform to these standards. Bell curves kill morale and performance because they not only compare but reward non-performers with performers.

Two issues here:

  1. If individuals cannot meet goals and standards they need to be terminated. Organizations are too busy attempting to make profits. Further when individuals do not perform there is either a management/employee relationship issue or a hiring issue.
  2. To get individuals performing at optimum efficiency seek the best practices of the best people and communicate more. Too many reviews are too little too late.

Reviews are not confidential year end documents but rather monthly communication vehicles that assist in providing direction for employees.


2 Responses to “When Smart Managers do Stupid Things”

  1. Kamesh says:

    I concur your say. Bill curve is really killing employees morality…

  2. T. R. Wilkerson says:

    That was a funny response. :-) I believe you meant the “bell curve is killing employees’ morale”.

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