Bell Curve analysis in Performance Management

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    A number of organizations appraise/force-rank their employees in what is called an Organization’s Performance Bell Curve. Does anyone know how mathematically and statistically valid this exercise is? Also , how can one verify that you can use the Bell Curve methodology to different types of jobs and organizations? Hope i am making sense!!



    Statistically, the bell (Normal) curve is a great tool.  The uses you mentioned are a great way get rid of good employees.  Even if oyu have perfected all of your processes and systems which support the employees, normal variation will put some truly good employees on the low end of the curve and total slackers on the high end.  This is a very dangerous and common use of a good tool.  In many engineering disciplines schedulers estimate project time and the engineers/designers work against that target.  How accurate are the schedulers?  Is their scheduling distributed across all employees? 
    How about another sure morale buster?  The best employees typically end up with the most difficult and time consuming work.  Throw the efficiencies on a bell curve and you’ll see alot of slackers at the top and the top guys at the bottom because they get work with more problems and they are thorough. 
    Enough preaching, but I hate to see statistics abused and bastardized just to make a managers appraisal duties easier.  Bell curve methodology is a great discussion starter and directional tool, not an appraisal and force-ranking tool.  It should be used to trigger other studies to improve not just the appraisal process but overal business process.  You need to find out why the employees are where they are on the curve, and not assume it’s solely due to true performance.

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