Rating People and Jobs LO5948

William J. Hobler, Jr. (bhobler@cpcug.org)
Sat, 2 Mar 1996 07:33:58 -0500

Replying to LO5914 -- was: Willingness To Change
[Subject line changed by your host...]

This is an attempt to weave three recent posts together and to add
some personal assumptions and filters. Dave Birren started with.

> When we make
> judgments about priorities and try to drop the low-priority work, we're told
> we have to keep doing it.
> So why bother trying to change?

David Reed proposed an approach

> Here at Boeing we retention
> people(a rating of 1, 2, or 3. These ratings are used during times of
> layoff and re-organization.

David Birren replied

>1. Rating scales went out with Deming.

Running the risk of heresy, my experience and belief is that we all make
judgements concerning how one person rates in relation to all the others
we have met or worked with. She is a 10, he a 4. A good coach works on
his/her 4s to make them a 10, or as close to it as they can be. Note the
assumptions I make here.

a. That people can become more capable through learning
b. That people wish to be more capable, they have a desire to be better
c. That not everyone can be a 10

My opinion is that rating scales per se are not bad, in fact they are a
natural part of a leaders tool kit. What is bad is what managers do with
them. Note the change in terminology - leaders use ratings to grow their
people, managers put people into boxes and don't help them get out.

>I have argued that perhaps we should avoid
> retentioning people and retention work instead. The way I see it working is
> this:

David Reed continued

> o Work is broken into priority jobs ( work that is absolutely critical
> to the success of the organization (1), work that is important but not
> critical (2), work that is needed and helpful but, in tough times (budget
> constraints) would not be as important as the others (3).

This is I think a pragmatic business concept. What work is the lowest
priority so that is needed we would stop doing it. At this point David
Reed is not suggesting rating people.

He (Reed) continues
> o Assign most of the #1 work to the most talented, best performing,
> people. #2 work goes to the average performers and #3 to the lower
> performers. It won't be that straight forward, in fact people may do 85% #1
> work and 15% #3 or some such arrangement..

David Birren replies

>2. Rating employees for their level of performance in a particular type
>of work is likely to become competitive and result in their developmental
>possibilities being overlooked or deliberately submerged.

>3. Associating low priority work with poor performers will create a class
>system faster than Aldous Huxley did in _Brave New World_. Everyone would
>know what the low priority work is, and by obvious extension, who the
>poorer performers are.

and Virginia Shaefer chimes in

> By telling someone
>they're my number three worker, I can elicit number three quality

Again whenever I receive a new worker or recognize that a worker is not
capable of high quality work I assign them to a task that requires
performance within their capabilities. My assumptions are.
a. The most important work must be accomplished to standards in
order for the organization to survive.
b. The worker so assigned and the rest of the team will know why
the assignment was made. Worker bees are pretty perceptive.
c. I have a responsibility to help the reassigned worker to grow.

IMHO this is pragmatic business activity. Yes, I can elicit level three
performance. I can also work with the people to help them achieve level
one IF:
a. They want to. And not everyone wants to.
b. They are able to. And some are not able.

David Birren commented here

>In its place, I would suggest
>a program that prioritizes the work and provides employees with
>opportunities for development within a relatively open system. I know
>David included provisions for staff development, but I suspect that would
>be overpowered by the hierarchical nature of the system.

The very hierarchy of the system can be a challenge to well led people. My
assumptions again - most people wish to be associate with the best. If the
best is two steps up, how do I climb the steps?

Which is just what David Reed proposes

> o By assigning work in this fashion, people doing predominately #3
> work will soon want to progress on and want to know the criteria for
> obtaining #2 and #1 work.

Virginia Shaefer raises the red flag for leaders everywhere in

>The Pygmalion Effect.... they used to categorize school children the same
>way? Those labeled "slow learners" sure enough didn't do as well on
>standardized tests...

IMHO they, school districts and resource constrained teachers are still
categorizing children. "To get more time to work with the bright

Managers put the poor performers into their pen and don't get much back.
Amazing! (I wish there were some way to draw a face with tongue in cheek)

Leaders, and good school teachers (aren't they our most important leaders?)
help grow their people's capabilities. Growing capabilities - seems to me is
one important goal of learning organizations.

Just The job is not done until we are humbled
Bill by what we accomplished together.


"William J. Hobler, Jr." <bhobler@cpcug.org>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>