It's December and it's time to do performance reviews. You're tired. You just want to go on vacation, and you really don't know where to start to distinguish between Johnny and Jenny from a performance perspective.
Sucks to be you.
You need Stacked Ranking.
A lot of you just flinched because you've been trained that stacked ranking is dirty and ultimately gets your company sued. You're right, but only if it's done a certain way - the Jack Welch way - which says that someone on the bottom has to get fired.
But throwing Stacked Ranking out because Jack Welch got off firing 10% of his workforce annually and caused the system to collapse is shortsighted. There's a better way.
Here's how you need to use Stacked Ranking in your performance process, and you don't need an HR pro's approval to do it:
1. Stack Rank your team from 1 to 5, 1 to 8, 1 to 10, whatever.
2. List the things that make the top 20% of your team special. Add a list of things that you'd like to see them do to get to the next level.
3. List the things that drive you crazy about the bottom 20%. Be specific. List what has to happen for them to stop driving you crazy.
4. List things about the middle 40% that they could do to be more like the top 20%. Build a second list of things they do that make them solid citizens, but not stars.
5. Start writing your reviews. By stack ranking your team and then building the lists I mentioned above for each group, you've got fodder for the review that fits where you see each of the team members falling in the performance spectrum on your team. Incorporate the list you built into whatever format your company is using when you write your comments.
Stacked Ranking is one of the smartest things you can do when considering performance feedback for your team. Making that list of where your people fall at the start of process gives you clarity to ask "why" they land where they land. The rest is details.
Stack Rank your team this month as part of your performance process. Then burn that ###### ####### list and never mention it again.