Posted by: kerrywills | August 5, 2011

Performance Management and Kerry’s Law of Relative Crappiness


Talent management is an area which I think is critically important for organizations. However I see in many places that there is a fundamental problem with ranking talented resources.

Let’s look at this in the context of Major League Baseball. The New York Yankees have a lineup of all top notched players so a great player may bat 7th or 8th on the lineup. That same player could go to another team in the Major Leagues and be the top player on that team. So, when ranking talent should that player be compared to the New York Yankees (in which case they may not rank as high) or Major League Baseball (in which case they would be seen as an all-star).

Average Yankee or Amazing Baseball Player?

This happens a lot on organizations where there are teams of high performing resources who get compared against each other. Therefore at the end of the year, they may have an average ranking, but if they went to another organization they may be put in “deity status.” They are being ranked against the Yankees and not MLB so an “average” in one place is not the same as another. However, the bonus structure is usually the same across the company so people are actually being punished financially for being in high performing teams.

This also gets to what I call “Kerry’s Law of Relative Crappiness” which is when there are lower performing organizations with not-so-great managers who are also ranking not-so-great resources. Because their level of not-so-greatness (i.e. crappiness) is relatively the same, the manager thinks the employee is doing well. If, however the resource (and manager) are compared to other organizations they would be ranked lower.

Not sure what the answer is but I have seen this in many places where top talent gets “downgrade” for working in high performing team and not so top talent gets “upgraded” for working in a low performing team. It’s all relative I guess.

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  1. […] Crappy performance […]


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