I have a small team of 4 employees. All 4 Exceeded expectations this year. However, my VP is forcing me into a corporate quota and I had to lower 2 of my people to "Satisfactory" ratings. The party line from management is that "you should simply say 'Satisfactory' is a good rating". In reality, no one ever perceives Satisfactory as a good rating. I'm trying to figure out how to present this to my 2 people in such a way to not blow their motivation.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.


itilimp's picture
Licensee Badge

Check out some posts on 'bell curve' in this forum. There's also another post almost identical to yours from about 3 months ago but I can't remember the title. If I recall the upshot was to stick to your guns rather than amending ratings to conform.

tokyotony's picture

You could possibly use the analogy of golf where "par" is good. You might also say that "par" is good, but we are continuing to raise the bar.

trandell's picture

Also, take a hard look at your ratings and question yourself to be sure you have people reviewed and rated appropriately. One of my weaknesses is that I tend to overrate people. In the past I allowed their likability to be a factor. That made things much harder.

When I take a hard look at how well someone does with respect to how well they are expected to I often find my initial perception to be off. I make multiple passes asking myself if my perception is aligned with reality. Are people truly going above and beyond expectations? What level of performance is expected? If an 8 out of 10 is expected and they perform at an 8, they are meeting expectations.

You may need to get tough on yourself and your people. They are in competition and this isn't camp. Not everyone can get first place. If you absolutely had to rank them in order from 1 to 4, who gets the #1 slot?

I am NOT saying or advocating you knock people down a peg for the simple reason of making it look good for the bosses. What I am saying is there is a high probability that there is a normal distribution (a.k.a. bell curve) of below, meets and exceeds in the data and it is your job to be 100% sure you did all you could to find that distribution.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

My apologies for my delay.

There are two issues here. One is that your boss/organization is inappropriately and inefficiently applying a bell curve standard to a sub-org which is too small to justify its value.

Well, welcome to management.

The second is that you have a management challenge in that the org is asking/telling you to do something different than you believe is effective or appropriate.

My recommendation is that you both: do the work necessary to provide the rankings that your boss has asked for (while thinking about how you can mitigate the impact with salary, spot bonuses, additional projects with high visibility, etc.); and create a case for why your folks deserve your rating, with data and specifics and results. (Remember, from point one above, it may be that your boss has just given you the short end of the stick.)

Again, I regret my absence, and I hope this, if not timely, is instructive for the future.