Bell Curve Model Hurts Performance

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Abstract
Right from the start of its usage in Performance Management by General Electric, the Bell Curve is thought to be an easy tool to identify performers from non-performers. The aim of using this tool was to encourage the average performers to improve their performance and to reward the best performers and to lay off the consistent bad performers. But questions have been asked on its efficacy in improving the performance with claims that it demotivates the employees and lead to disengagement and attrition. Recently some companies have shrugged off their inertia and replaced the Bell curve with continuous goal monitoring coupled with frequent feedback. The question to explore in this paper is, if it is time to Bell the Bell Curve?
What
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How the Bell Curve Model Hurts Performance
There are certain inherent disadvantages in using a bell curve. Using the bell curve model for performance appraisal is too rigid an approach for rating employees. Sometimes just for the sake of following the Bell curve, an employee is forced fit into low performance gradients. This leads to a loss of morale of the employee and may lead to attrition.
Even though the Bell Curve appraisal system encouraged a through feedback, but as the feedback was mandated to be given once a year, managers used to brush it under the carpet and focus only on results, to avoid any confrontation thus ignoring the process of how the results were achieved. This makes the feedback shallow, defeating the main purpose of any appraisal, which is to improve performance of the individuals.

What other methods are there for appraisals and their advantage and limitations
Companies are looking at two basic changes away from the Bell curve: Rating absolute performance and having constant conversations. Rating of absolute performance can be done by using Goal-based performance appraisal
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Some believe that an additional 360 feedback may help ease some of the drawbacks of the Bell Curve and make the process more enriching for them.
Conclusion
Employees do not have a problem with the bell curve, but rather, with the lack of transparency or understanding of the process. The bell curve is a well-accepted form of performance appraisal and its USP is its simplicity to use and disburse the rewards. The drawbacks and anxieties associated with using the Bell Curve can be dealt with if the feedback giving mechanism is made more structured and exhaustive. Also, a 360 degree feedback along with the Bell curve can greatly enhance its usability.
No other performance appraisal mechanism has achieved the kind of success achieved by the Bell Curve. Even though its popularity is waning, it is still widely used by large organizations to manage their workforce. Till the time a new tool to segregate the high performers from low performers is found, the Bell Curve will continue to be used by organizations throughout the

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