Concept in Organizational Behaviour of forced ranking of personnel. Originating from Jack Welch, identified by Fortune magazine in 1999 as “manager of the century”. He describes the technique in his memoir with a telling title: Jack: Straight From the Gut. Where a manager supposedly is able to identify the “top 20% of employees, known as “A players”, the 70% “vital middle”, known as “B players” and the “bottom” 10%, known as “C players”.

The very player terminology seems to imply some dimension alone the lines of huckahuckayoubeontheteamYESSIR!!

Plus, if you are a “C player”, you might as well just disappear now, before you are thrown out, or traded, or sent down to the minors, or cut loose as a free agent…

No sense of how much of this is impressionistic on the part of a manager, and no research supporting the percentage demarcations. Plus, little appreciation that performance can vary upwards and downwards, unless one assumes that “A players” have some trait-based immutability. Or that “C players” may simply need more time and encouragement. As Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton note in “Evidence-Based Management” (Harvard Business Review, January, 2006):

…(management) would have found plenty of evidence that performance improves with team continuity and time in position–two reasons to avoid the churn of what’s been called the “rank and yank” approach. Think of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team…all these players will tell you that the most important factor in their success was the communication, mutual understanding and respect, and ability to work together that developed during the 13 or so years that the stable core group played together. The power of such joint experience has been established in every setting examined, from string quartets to surgical teams, to top management teams, to airplane cockpit crews.

…an evidence-based approach would have surfaced data suggesting that average players can be extremely productive and that A players can founder, depending on the system they work in.

Or when one is publicly ranked in high school, and too readily discounted

Gotta be hustlin’ on that team:


About brucelarochelle
This entry was posted in Business Commentary, Business Education, Education - Primary and Secondary, Organizational Behaviour. Bookmark the permalink.

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