Browse Definitions:
Definition

stacked ranking

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Stacked ranking is an employee evaluation method that slots a certain percentage of employees into each of several  levels of performance.  

Because the ranking is inherently somewhat arbitrary, the model is also sometimes referred to as a forced distribution. Such a model might assume a normal distribution, for example, in which 10% of employees are high achievers, 80% are satisfactory and valuable, and 10% are actually deleterious to the company.  When evaluating the staff, administrators assign individuals to those categories in such a way that the percentages assigned to each category remain constant.

One of the best-known stacked ranking systems is former General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s Vitality Curve, which assigns high-achieving employees, which he called “A players,”  to the top 20 percent, normally productive employees (B players) to the middle 70 percent level and unproductive employees (C players) to the bottom 10 percent rank. According to Welch, the top employees should be further motivated with bonuses and other rewards and the bottom 10 percent should be fired. GE has since moved away from the practice. 

Other companies that use (or did use) stacked ranking include Dow Chemical, Enron, Motorola, IBM and Yahoo. Microsoft followed the stacked ranking model for years but abandoned it in 2013 in response to employee complaints about the system.  

Proponents of stacked ranking claim that it motivates mid-range employees to aspire to top-level ranking, increases profits and clearly identifies underperformers. Critics of the model argue that it discourages cooperation, encourages unethical behavior and hampers staff cohesiveness and morale.

Thirty percent of Fortune 500 companies are said to use stacked ranking for employee evaluation. 

This was last updated in November 2013

Continue Reading About stacked ranking

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • security information and event management (SIEM)

    Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of ...

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to ...

  • cyberterrorism

    According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, cyberterrorism is any 'premeditated, politically motivated attack against ...

SearchHealthIT

  • accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in...

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close