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Case Study Comparing Co-Workers Against Each Other: Does This Motivate Employees



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    Comparing Co-Workers against Each Other: Does this motivate Employees? Employee motivation is the level of energy, commitment, and creativity that a company’s workers bring to their jobs. Motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of human behavior. These case outlines and expresses the way companies evaluate their employees and how to compare their evaluation to others as well. According to the text, “one third of U. S corporations evaluate employees based on systems that pit them against their colleagues, and some even lead to the firing of low performers”.

    The case takes an important look at using comparative method to review, evaluate and compare employees and outlines the impact of those methods on productivity, morale and level of motivation. Force ranking is a performance intervention, which can be defined as an evaluation method of forced distribution where managers are required to distribute ratings for those being evaluated into a pre-specific performance distribution ranking (Cooper and Argiris, 2011).

    Meisler defines force ranking “as a workforce-management tool based on the premise that in order to develop and thrive, a corporation must identify its best and worst performers, then nurture the former and rehabilitate and/or discard the latter. It’s an elixir that in these slow-growth times has proved irresistible to scores of desperate corporate chieftains – but indigestible to a good many employees”. General Electric is the most famous proponent of the practice and trying to be more flexible in the practice of force ranking.

    The company has adopted force ranking for many years, instigated by its ex CEO Jack Welch who had managers to divide talents into three groups: a top 20 percent, a middle 70 percent and a bottom 10 percent. This process worked well for GE for two years since it strengthens high-level productive employees and eliminates the weak ones. GE is now reminding and encouraging managers to use more common sense in assigning tasks because after two years, the benefits started to decline since the high-level group got even stronger and there were no more need to eliminate the weaker group.

    After some time, this cut-throat mentality took hold and employees started to portray themselves in the best possible way while playing up negative factors about coworkers and help reinforce themselves. It was a discouraging behavior which led to infightings, therefore contributed to slower performance for the company. Striking the balance between strict yardsticks and managerial judgment is very difficult and that is why companies from GE to yahoo to American Airlines are grappling with today.

    But it is not an easy task to find a new system of evaluation and companies are well aware of the conditions. But GE for example has not abandoned the system of force ranking yet. “The company’s 200,000 professional employees tend to fall into Welch’s categories anyway, but individual groups are freer to have a somewhat higher number of ‘A’ players or even say Peter, no bottom 10s. Even those low achievers are getting kinder treatment, from a new appellation ‘the less effective’ to more specific coaching and intervention than in the past”. (Ivancevich, Kinopaske, Matteson, 2011, p. 47). Force ranking motivates employees up to some point in time and later can introduce negativity in the employee evaluation process which can bring issues among employees and therefore affect company’s overall performance. According to Dave Ulrich, a business professor at the University of Michigan, force ranking “Over time gets people focused on competing with each other rather than collaborating”. It is still a difficult task for companies to find ways to foster merit-driven cultures that motivates employees while keeping it tough for low performing employees.

    Companies are using different techniques of evaluation, but its overall reason is to identify the best performers so that companies can invest in them and be able to keep them as well. 1) What’s your opinion regarding forced ranking performance appraisals? Do they motivate employees? Explain Force ranking performance appraisal can be efficient for a period of time and then become a problem for the company. Force ranking helps companies identify their best and low performers and help companies make appropriate decisions about which employee to keep or fire.

    At first, the company’s performance increases since low performers want to impress management and do better. But at some point in time, the system turns employees against each other since they will be competing with each other leading to conflicts and poor performance among employees. This type of performance evaluation may not be motivating since it is encourages competition among employees and teams, therefore reducing the level of communication among employees and teams therefore reduce performance. ) How would equity theory explain some employees’ negative reactions to forced ranking? Explain. People will work better when they are motivated enough with the pay scale, the incentives and the perks they are offered in return of a job well done. “Equity theory explains how people’s perception of how fairly they are treated in social exchanges at work can influence their motivation” (Ivancevich, Kinopaske, Matteson, 2011, p. 134). Employees believes that equity exist when the ratio of their input to their outcomes are equivalent to the other employee’s ratio.

    Since force ranking evaluate employees among themselves, there is a sense of unfairness since the low performing employees consider the evaluation process unfair and not compatible. 3) Based on Chapter 5, if you decide not to use force ranking at your company, how would you motivate employees? We all have a different for going to work. These reasons are unique as we are as well. Some people go to work for the salary and reward while others goes for the accomplishment and their contribution to humanity.

    We all have a different reason when we go at work. But most of us work because we want to obtain something we need from work. This gain from work impacts morale, motivation and the quality of life. I would motivate employees by treating them as if they matter because they do. When people feel important, respected and treated fairly, they will do their best and therefore keep them motivated. I will design the job in a way that it will not look boring, giving the employees a ‘want to go to work’ feeling at any given moment.

    Case Study Comparing Co-Workers Against Each Other: Does This Motivate Employees. (2017, Feb 27). Retrieved from

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