Evaluating and motivating the performance of employees is a common practice for the majority of businesses, however, not all the methods have positive outcomes and are accepted by employees. Thus, the idea of this essay is to research and provide personal opinions regarding motivating employees through forced ranking performance appraisal and its alternatives.
Applying the forced ranking system in an organization might be quite contradictory. Most people agree that employees’ work needs to be evaluated and rewarded or penalized depending on the performance. It helps to motivate employees and encourages them to increase the work productivity. However, not all agree that introducing forced ranking performance appraisal in an organization is not an excellent tool for motivating employees.
Few Issues that Decrease the Efficiency of the Forced Ranking System
There are few issues that decrease the efficiency of the system. First, it is not fair, especially when evaluating the work of employees in teams. Every group of the team would receive the same score not taking into account that all of them had different performance.
Furthermore, the ranking system increases competition between co-workers, because everyone wants to become the top employee. It leads to competing with each other instead of increasing their performance results in order to compete with other companies.
Another factor that demolishes the appraisal effectiveness is the personal bias in evaluating the employees’ performance. Few managers can disagree on how to score an employee by estimating his or her performance with different scores.
Thus, I am convinced that the system is more likely to work at the beginning when people know that their performance is being watched. Everyone would be trying to impress their managers and reach the best results. However, it is obvious that not everyone can be the winner, so there will be just a few employees who would be recognized as top employees. So after the first appraisal, most of the employees would feel underestimated, the relationship inside the organization would worsen because of the jealousy and the feeling of being treated unfairly. Additionally, the competition among employees would increase making it almost impossible to complete group projects and have a positive internal climate in an organization.
The Equity Theory of Motivation
There are some other motivation theories that explain the forced rating performance appraisal being unpopular amongst employees. For instance, equity theory that is based on the idea of balance illustrates the main reasons of employees reacting negatively to the forced ranking system.
Equity theory demonstrates that the level of motivation correlates with how employees feel they are treated and evaluated by managers at work. Every employee makes a comparison between individual and colleagues’ work input and outcomes. In case the results of the comparison are not matching the decision of the managers reached though appraisal, employees would consider the system as unequal. In this case, the level of dissatisfaction and stress increases. Hence, it leads to an employee having a negative reaction toward the appraisal system and losing the motivation to work.
Another issue is that overestimating the results of personal achievements and believing that no one else deserves being rewarded more is natural to almost every human being. Thus, unless granted a top performer status, an employee would feel unfairly under-rewarded. Moreover, the way managers decide on scoring employees’ performance is rather personal. Sometimes such factors like personal antipathies on subconscious level can provoke giving smaller scores to some employees even without managers realizing it. Every process that involves human factor cannot be always perfect and assure absolutely unbiased outcomes.
This way, it is almost impossible to reach the perfect balance when an employee feels fairly treated with the evaluations made by managers. Thus, in most of the cases, employees have negative reaction to forced ranking in an organization.
The Herzberg’s Two-factor Theory of Motivation
If I had to find an alternative to forced ranking performance appraisal to apply in an organization in order to motivate employees, I would choose Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation. This theory would be a useful solution to the consequences of forced ranking since it provides mechanisms of avoiding dissatisfaction at work.
The idea of the two-factor theory is to satisfy employees’ higher-level needs in order to increase their motivation. According to the theory, factors that can be used for motivating employees are divided into two categories: hygiene and motivator factors. I believe that quality of supervision and inter-personal relations along with financial rewards are the main contributors to motivating employees amongst hygiene factors. Motivating factors like promotion opportunity and gaining recognition are also effective in creating job satisfaction. These factors need to be at the focus after applying the system of forced ranking in a company. Thus, I would suggest rewarding employees on the basis of their personal activity without comparing it to the activity of other employees. It should not be held on the yearly basis but on the basis of successfully completing a project or achieving astonishing results in a specific sphere. It would reduce the competition and improve relationship between employees.
To summarize, Herzberg’s two-factor theory would result in improving employees’ satisfaction with a job, alongside with increasing their motivation and productivity.
Thus, I believe that forced ranking performance appraisal is not an effective way of motivating employees and can only bring positive result on a short-term basis. I suggest using Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation instead, in order to achieve better results in encouraging employees to improve their performance.