Does Your Oil Company Suffer from Forced Ranking Idiocy? | RefinerLink

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Does Your Oil Company Suffer from Forced Ranking Idiocy?

By Org Coach Thomas

Mar 10, 2014

We all need a way to value performance and identify talent, but this does not mean that your organization should deploy a “Forced Ranking” system blindly.                               


When companies properly acknowledge and reward employees, they build a motivated workforce.  But what do we do with employees who do not meet performance expectations?  Even more controversial, how do we handle employees who rank in the top tier of one workgroup, but fall short in a more talented peer group?



Many oil companies have thousands of employees that need to receive pay treatment on an annual frequency.  Organizations also need a way to identify and promote talent. 


However, it’s the time of year that many supervisors dread – Performance Ranking Period.  Go-getters see this as a chance to receive praise about their past year’s accomplishments.  Others see this process as a waste of time and resources.  


In an ideal world, managers can avoid the efficiency drain of a performance assessment process and just rank everyone appropriately for salary treatment.  The reality is that inequity and favoritism corrupt this ideally efficient process.  Of course, we are only human.  

The end result is this bureaucratic system of performance ranking.  Different companies apply the underlying principles to varying degrees, but I’ve observed noticeable trends in employee satisfaction that result from the differing methods.  Companies that put more thought into performance ranking structure have happier employees than those that blindly follow a formula.  I note a clearly logical statement, but it is amazing how many companies hold to outdated systems. 


To one extent or another, forced ranking systems will always have pitfalls.  The question is how effective can your company capture the benefits of forced ranking while minimizing the cons.  Some of the questionable outcomes include:



Some or all of the consequences above may apply to your company’s ranking process.  If you find that more than 3 of the factors apply to your organization, you may consider tweaking the process to shift employee satisfaction.


While many positive factors suggest a need for forced ranking, this type of assessment process does come with its setbacks.  Managers in this system should listen to the feedback to improve process effectiveness.  I urge those in the RL community to share your stories so that we can all learn from positive and negative experiences.

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  • :   I'd like to see more data support ranking out comes that may help validate the results

    Apr 18, 2012

  • :   I saw a good number of engineers get fired a couple of years back because they were at the bottom of the system. We went through a rough patch of not having enough engineers around for a long time, but now i think we're pulling through.

    Apr 18, 2012

  • :   i think that companies need to re-look at how new generation works respond to existing systems. we just have different core values in what we seek in employment and motivation is different.

    Apr 24, 2012

  • :   Of course,this forced ranking system is putting the morale of the employees down,as because the transparency that was much talked about is a vague term in the new PMS.

    Jul 25, 2012

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