February 08, 2012

Rank & Yank


Measuring performance has been controversy overtime, and one of those appraisal methods which was heavily criticized was “forced distribution rating system”, or “forced ranking appraisal systems” and some call it “rank & yank” approach.

Nothing is absolute bad or absolute wrong, there are pros and cons. However, in my view, this respective approach is not totally bad, and one could argue about this and start listing the disadvantages of forced ranking system supported by Deming’s system of profound knowledge, but I do believe that this system might be good applying it at some stage within an organisation, especially when the company is suffering from a bad working culture or the organisation might not be “mature” enough”, especially if line managers and direct supervisors inflates ratings and award superior scores to their subordinates or having the same ratings amongst their staff, then this method will be a perfect solution to force those managers to rate their employees according to their actual performance. And once again, this might be applied at some stage when the organisation is having the same sort of troubles and this is drawn from my own experience.

Let’s not go too far, University of Warwick is a prime example of implementing the forced ranking system (and like other universities in UK and abroad), they reward the best students for their good marks, and yank out students for failing and not scoring the minimum required marks or not abiding by the regulations. and yet, Warwick is rated one of the top universities in UK.

In conclusion, this type of appraisal management system might not be right for all companies at a particular time, but sometimes it might be the right choice at the right time. From my experience it promotes a productive and excellence performance culture, where those who work hard and achieve great results are rewarded and retained. Anyway, I am not saying it’s good, but it’s not bad too!


- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Oritseweyinmi Barber

    You know, I really don’t think the University systems qualifies as a yank and rank and I’ll tell you why. In the rank and yank method, it is required for 10% of the organization to be classified as low performing, this makes it a game of numbers, someone has to fall into the bottom term whether or not they have have performed reasonably well or not. In a University system, no such rules apply. Any school would gladly graduate an entire class if all the students met the minimum requirements. No one is ‘forced’ to fail in a bid to meet a Pre-determined ‘failure rate’. That’s a key difference.

    08 Feb 2012, 23:10

  2. Yes, You’re totally right! but, let’s think about it, I mean there has to be always bad performers in an organisation, school, class, etc. so WMG for an example has already pre-determined failure rate, even though not using the same percentage, but eventually, they are using the same principles!!! so in this case, there are three groups, those who tend to score higher than 70%, those who score between 50 and 69, and those who fail as they score less than 50% (in both modules and final project).
    So the question is that does really all the students succeed every year at WMG, or did it happen before? If yes, then this is really a big question about the credibility of the educational system at WMG.

    Anyway the example was not well thought out. So, I shouldn’t use Warwick as an example at the first place, but those universities using the Credit Hour system are quite a different case.
    The minimum requirement for passing might differ from one module to another, in some cases it might be 60 or higher,depends on the overall marks of the students of this module – don’t ask me about the calculation because its quite complicated based on statistical methods – therefore there has to be students who never pass, and the percentage of failures differs again from one module to another.
    so in an indirect way, they have such a system of classifying students and using the “Rank & Yank” approach, once again, not using the same percentage, but they are using the same principles!!!

    09 Feb 2012, 08:09


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