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Bell Curve for Performance Management
Human Resources » Performance Management

Chrm Message From: sanjay04 Total Posts: 57 Join Date: 23/08/2006
Rank: Manager Post Date: 13/11/2006 00:39:44 Points: 285 Location: United States

Bell curve is used for performance management. This theory was conceived by Hernstein & Murray in 1994.

If you have 100 employees in a group / tea / project, you rate everybody and colect their self appraisal rating. When you compare you usually come out with a graph, where you have ratings or scores on one hand and number of employees on the other hand.

The logic is, as per the bell-curve rule, you got to classify certain number of emplyees forcefully under some defined rules.

This is forced distribution, and that is one of the drawback of this theory because you are forcefully by classifying an employee as outstanding or unsatifactory, underestimating his potential, usually this kind of model is nowadays used in companies which are into restructuring, business process reengineering, and into cutting down their workforce for cost advantages etc.

Because by inducing this model you can term somebody unsatisfactory compared to someone who may not be outstanding but comparitively is outstanding..... the good part is... if it is applied properly and aligned with good practices like competency development and talent management, it can be used evry effectively, but seldom practitioners end up doing so.. .


Sanjay Mewar

Chrm Message From: jagadish Total Posts: 52 Join Date: 23/08/2006  
Rank: Manager Post Date: 13/11/2006 00:54:28 Points: 260 Location: United States

Thats a nice write-up, but the curve isnt avaliable here. This was also the same method used by Jack Welch in building an empire of high performers in GE. The lower end of poor performers were laid off. This still exists in practice6 in some organisations.


Chrm Message From: savi989 Total Posts: 70 Join Date: 23/08/2006  
Rank: Manager Post Date: 20/02/2009 10:40:51 Points: 350 Location: United States

Very much true. this method is a wonderful method if pacticed in right fashion. Many companies as mentioned uses this method as atool of cost reduction.

In actual PDP is generally followed once appraisals are announced. But employers now a days end up laying off employees.

Chrm Message From: Rakesh32 Total Posts: 3 Join Date: 23/08/2006  
Rank: Beginner Post Date: 05/03/2009 12:30:15 Points: 15 Location: United States

the basic assumption in Bell Curve is that performance is a relative term. The pre-condition is ratings must be defined objectively and understood by all stakeholders. The first 5% is Outstanding, next 35% is Very Good...likewise. Individual performance is always stack against others. If you find stuck in implementing bell curve, this means you need to redifine the performance standard. eg. we reward G rating to those employees who fulfills 100% KPI and OS to those who stand as Role Model in the organisation.    

Chrm Message From: Gowri Prasad Total Posts: 1 Join Date: 23/08/2006  
Rank: Beginner Post Date: 04/12/2009 13:21:19 Points: 5 Location: United States

Hello HR Fraternites,

I am working with Engineering Industry.  My management planning to introduce Bell Curve PM system.  I never worked this system.

If you any draft about the system in excel, please send me.


Best Regards,





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