10 Alternatives to Stack Ranking Evaluations

What is Stack Ranking? Stack ranking is a management practice in which leaders are asked to rank employees on a curve according to their performance, with the lowest performers placed at the bottom and rallied into performance improvement plans or terminated altogether.

Many people view this employee performance management strategy as contentious. Supporters contend that a “rank and yank” strategy encourages workers to perform better while exposing underachievers. However, those opposed to the strategy contend that it fosters a toxic culture that discourages collaboration and lowers employee morale. In spite of this, it is claimed that 30% of Fortune 500 companies use stacked ranking to assess their employees.

Stack Ranking Drives Better Performance in Your Contact Center

What is stack ranking?

The process of stack ranking involves grading a company’s or organization’s personnel according to a bell curve. The concept frequently divides people into distinct categories, emphasizing the top, middle, and bottom performers. Some businesses may then develop performance improvement plans for the entry-level personnel or dismiss them from the company. The system’s original design aimed to motivate people to compete for the highest positions and raise the standard and volume of deliverables as a whole.

However, as the evaluation system has been used, businesses have found that it frequently results in hostile work environments and low employee morale. As a result, many businesses today have chosen to employ various strategies in an effort to boost productivity while also fostering employee development.

Alternatives to stack ranking

Here are 10 alternatives to stack ranking that companies can employ:

1. Understand employee values

Understanding employee values is crucial because it enables organizations to decide what to specifically promote and assess in terms of a person’s performance. This gives businesses the opportunity to develop strong motivators and aid in maintaining employees’ enthusiasm for the tasks or projects they’re working on. For instance, if a company is aware that many of its employees enjoy difficult tasks, it can give them tasks that specifically call for more advanced problem-solving skills, confident that the workers will be committed to the project.

2. Give recognition

Giving employees recognition can be beneficial for businesses and organizations because it can inspire them to keep up their excellent work and inspire their coworkers to do the same. Recognization can take many different forms, including additional vacation time, payroll bonuses, free emails, and more. Additionally, it can be very advantageous for businesses to recognize individuals who have improved in their positions. This can demonstrate to them that the company values their professional growth and inspire them to keep learning and growing.

3. Encourage open communication

Promoting open dialogue is crucial because it enables staff members to bring up significant queries or concerns with managers and supervisors. This enables businesses to learn about potential issues or difficulties and address them right away before they get worse. Additionally, it can give workers a chance to feel heard by managers and executives and contribute to a more positive work environment. A pleasant workplace environment can boost employee satisfaction and potentially boost overall productivity in the company.

4. Create a peer review system

Employees can evaluate each other’s performance and report any significant strengths or weaknesses they discover by establishing a peer review system. This can assist managers in identifying any employee development gaps they may have missed and maintain accountability among teams. For instance, if a few team members notice a person doesn’t know how to use the company’s specialized software, they can either let the manager know or collaborate to coach the person and help them develop their technical skills.

5. Practice informal check-ins

Annual or bimonthly employee evaluations can be crucial for a business’ development. However, businesses can also benefit from using informal check-ins to consistently understand how workers are doing and providing support when necessary. By sending frequent emails, having brief face-to-face conversations, or calling staff meetings to address employee questions or concerns, managers and executives can put this technique into practice. This can show staff members how much the business cares about their welfare and guarantee that there is constant communication.

6. Establish smaller goals

Employee productivity can rise by setting smaller, more manageable goals that will make it easier for them to complete their duties. This is so that people can understand the essential steps required to finish more difficult tasks and become more motivated as they accomplish smaller goals.

Examining larger projects or assignments and figuring out how to divide them into smaller sections or goals for workers to complete can be helpful when setting smaller goals. Finding the most effective method of informing customers about business promotions and opportunities, for instance, could be one of the first smaller goals that a company’s marketing team could complete if they are instructed to increase customer outreach.

7. Provide career development opportunities

Giving employees good career development opportunities can help them advance their professional skills and contribute to the overall expansion and development of the business. This is so that workers can continually learn new skills that will help the company and position themselves for advancement opportunities by focusing on their own career goals and development. This enables businesses to retain workers for longer periods of time and spend less money continuously hiring and onboarding new employees.

8. Ask customers to review

Companies can learn more about how employees are meeting customer needs and identify any critical skills that employees need to develop by asking customers to evaluate their performance. This can help businesses continue to develop the soft skills of their employees and make customers feel involved in the growth of the company. For instance, if a few clients complained that a worker was unable to inform them of promotions or sales, the company could train the worker on how to bring up important sales and raise client satisfaction.

9. Allow managers to review each other

A strong review system that promotes objective evaluation of each employee’s abilities and performance can be developed by allowing managers to view each other’s employee evaluations. This can assist businesses in better understanding how their departments are performing and identifying any areas that may still require improvement. It can be crucial for managers to evaluate their own teams first when using this style of evaluation before evaluating another department. The managers should then discuss evaluations to determine where they concur and where they believe others have been too critical or not critical enough.

10. Organize objectives by teams

A collaborative and effective work environment can be created by allocating business goals and objectives to various teams. This can raise the standard of business outputs and enable companies to come up with original answers to particular issues or challenges. This is because the group can work together to achieve the goal, utilizing one another to create fresh concepts and produce outstanding results.


What is a stack ranking system?

A certain percentage of employees are assigned to each of the various performance levels using the employee evaluation method known as “stacked ranking.” The model is also sometimes known as a forced distribution because the ranking is inherently somewhat arbitrary.

What companies stack ranks?

This system for performance evaluation is used by 30% of Fortune 500 companies. Microsoft, Amazon, Uber, and Facebook are a few companies that have used stacked ranking in the past.

Why is stack ranking good?

A prioritization technique called stack ranking (also known as forced ranking) involves taking a list of possibilities (such as ideas, problems, stories, etc.). ) and placing them in a specific order along an axis (e g. value, importance, cost, complexity, risk, etc. ).

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