HR Glossary

Forced Ranking

What is Forced Ranking?

Forced ranking is a system of employee evaluation and compensation that is used to rank employees in a company from best to worst. Employees are typically placed in one of three categories: top performers, average performers, and poor performers. This system allows for the differentiation of pay and rewards among employees, with the goal of motivating employees to achieve better performance.

How does Forced Ranking help companies?

In order to remain competitive in the global economy, many companies have turned to a process known as forced ranking to help them identify and develop their most high-performing employees. Forced ranking is a system in which employees are ranked from best to worst based on their performance. This system can be used to identify top talent, to help managers identify employees who need development, and to provide a framework for awarding bonuses and promotions.

One of the benefits of using forced ranking is that it can help companies identify high-performing employees who may be overlooked in a traditional ranking system. In a traditional ranking system, employees are often ranked according to their tenure or position within the company. This can lead to the promotion of less-talented employees or the retention of employees who are no longer a good fit for the company. Forced ranking can help companies avoid these problems by identifying the most talented employees and promoting or rewarding them accordingly.

Another benefit of forced ranking is that it can help managers identify employees who need development. In a traditional ranking system, managers may not be aware of the employees who are lagging behind until it is too late. Forced ranking can help managers identify these employees and provide them with the necessary development opportunities.

Finally, forced ranking can help companies create a framework for awarding bonuses and promotions. This framework can help ensure that employees are rewarded based on their performance and not on their tenure or position within the company.

What are the benefits of Forced Ranking?

There are a number of benefits to using forced ranking as a tool for appraising employee performance. First and foremost, it allows managers to objectively compare employees against one another. This is important because it allows managers to identify and reward high-performing employees, while also identifying and addressing under-performing employees. Forced ranking can also help to create a more competitive environment among employees, which can lead to improved performance overall. Additionally, forced ranking can help to identify potential talent within an organization and prepare employees for advancement.

What are the downsides of Forced Ranking?

There are a few potential downsides to using forced ranking as a performance evaluation tool in a human resources setting. First, it can create a rankings-based mentality and a “survival of the fittest” work environment, where employees feel pressured to outperform their colleagues in order to avoid being at the bottom of the list. This can lead to stress, tension, and disharmony in the workplace. Additionally, forced ranking can be inaccurate and subjective, as it relies on individual managers’ perceptions of employees’ work quality and contribution. This can lead to unfairness and resentment among employees who are ranked lower than they believe they should be. Finally, forced ranking can be expensive and time-consuming to implement, and it can be difficult to track and measure the effectiveness of the system.

What do companies do with the results of Forced Ranking?

There is no one answer to this question, as companies may use forced ranking in a variety of ways. However, one common use of forced ranking is to help identify high and low performers within a company. This information can then be used to determine who should be promoted, who should be given additional training, and who should be let go. Additionally, forced ranking can be used to create a more equitable pay structure, as it can help to identify which employees are being underpaid or overpaid.


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