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Stack rankings and your brain

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Stack rankings and your brain

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Stack ranking has thankfully seen its popularity plummet in recent years as the number of horror stories surrounding its use has steadily risen.

The following video looks at how stack ranking tends to damage workplace morale and productivity.  It looks at the neurological impact of stack ranking.  It focuses primarily on the fixed mindset that stack ranking tends to promote.  I’ve written a bit lately on the importance of mindset to all manner of things, but especially for the various things that social businesses aim to thrive in.

Of course, another issue with stack ranking is that measuring performance is in itself rather tricky to do with any degree of accuracy.  Research by Samuel A. Swift and Don A. Moore, University of California at Berkeley; Zachariah S. Sharek, Carnegie Mellon University; and Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School has highlighted the difficulties involved in accurate measuring of performance.

The paper looks in particular at how difficult we find it to distinguish between strong results achieved under easy conditions, and strong results achieved under challenging conditions.

“Across all our studies, the results suggest that experts take high performance as evidence of high ability and do not sufficiently discount it by the ease with which that performance was achieved,” the paper reports.

The study revealed that people regularly rated people higher when they had achieved results under easy conditions than colleagues that had done less well at a much tougher task.

What’s more, this logical failing continued, even when the judges were made aware of the subjectivity of the performances.  This was even the case when the judges were highly skilled in their role.

“We thought that experts might not be as likely to engage in this type of error, and we also thought that in situations where we were very, very clear about [varying external circumstances], that there would be less susceptibility to the bias,” Gino says.

So, if even the best experts are so bad at judging performance, would you really trust them with something as radical as stack ranking?

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