Jack Welch’s framework that is used for differentiating employees is also referred to as the vitality curve. Some of the other terms that are used to refer to the vitality curve include forced ranking, forced distribution, stack ranking, and rank and yank. The curve is subdivided into three separate sections. It is a management tool that is used to rank the employees on the basis of their performance in the organization.
According to Welch and Welch, the theory has it that 20% of the employees in an organization are the top performers, 70% comprises those employees that are of average performance, while the other 10% consists of those employees that perform poorly. With regard to this, Jack recommends that the upper 20% should be motivated to stay in the organization by giving them bonuses. On the other hand, he proposes that the bottom 10% should be laid off because they do not contribute significantly towards the attainment of the organization’s goals and objectives.
The employees in the top 20% rank are also referred to as the “A” employees. Those in the 70% section are referred to as the “B” employees, and the bottom 10% are referred to as the “C” employees. The “A” employees are known for being passionate while undertaking their duties. In this regard, they are always committed to ensuring that their assignments are finished in time. Additionally, those employees are endowed with special skills that enable them to motivate themselves and others. They are also very instrumental in ensuring that the company attains its objectives. More importantly, they are said to have high energy levels which makes them high performers, and they are always able to deliver on their promises without having to be followed up. On the other hand, the “B” employees are not known for being the top performers.
Nonetheless, they comprise the majority of the workforce for an organization. For this reason, they are a very important part of the organization. The “C” employees are known for being poor performers because they are likely to procrastinate, and they are also known for delivering on their promises. As a result, it does not make economic sense to continue employing them in the organization. It must also be noted that these assumptions do not only apply to the employees but also to the managers. One of the strengths of this model is that it underscores to the employees the importance of falling into the upper 20% and the dangers of falling into the bottom 10%. This would somewhat deter the employees from working in a mediocre way. In a way, this model can help in setting the rules on what is expected of every employee in the organization.
However, the model has some drawbacks that should be addressed to make the model more efficient. One of the drawbacks regards the fact that by classifying an employee in the bottom 10%, the employer may not take into account that there could be a possibility that the employee could be assigned in the “incorrect” department. Additionally, this could end up discouraging those employees since the organization will already have branded them as poor performers. Another weakness is that the model assumes that it is not possible for an employee to change his classification. It is assumed that once an employee is classified as either A, B, and C, he cannot change it. It has also been argued that this is a very competitive method. In this regard, it breeds a culture of insensitivity to others, despite the fact that they may have been placed in a department for which they are not talented.
This implies that this model should be improved with a view to ensuring that it does not result in the loss of manpower for the organization. One of the ways of doing this is by setting performance standards that can serve as yardsticks for classifying the employees.