Monday, April 30, 2007
Is Bell Curve Compensation an Anti-Pattern?
Problem: Distributing rewards fairly.
Context: A community of developers, architects,etc meeting tight schedules in a high-payoff market.
Forces: Managers love their employees, but some must be loved more than others. Everybody can't be excellent.
Supposed Solution: The entire team (social unit) should be ranked for Quality, those rankings should be fitted to a bell curve, and compensation should be awarded according to percentile.
Resulting Context: Managers who create uniformly excellent teams are punished, since some members must be rated as sub-par to maintain the bell curve. Developers seek out managers with sub-par teams, in order to ensure their place in the top percentile.
Design Rationale: Somebody failed elementary statistics; while competence over a large corporation may indeed fit a bell curve, small sets (such as project teams) are very unlikely to do so. Indeed, in an organization that does not follow this Anti Pattern, a successful project team will tilt farther and farther toward the high end of the curve, as excellent developers are attracted by the opportunity to work with their peers. It is possible to have a uniformly excellent team; managers who build such teams should be rewarded, not punished...
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