In a former tech job a long time ago, we used to have a rating system that was 1-10, where 1 was totally bad, and 10 was uber-super-riffic. But in reality, it was a 3-8 rating system, because if they got below a 3 you had to fire them, and no one was "allowed" to score over 8 because ... well, "it left no room for improvement." No, really, a manager would have to get approval to rate higher than an 8, and if he or she got it, it would always be a 9. No one, in the history of our company, it was said, ever got a 10. So why have it?
For example, on one review, I rated the highest ever in our group. Out of 25 people, I did 35% of the work. I was always picked for special tasks because not only was I proficient, but nice and friendly. I was touted for high muckety-mucks, given special projects, and became a kind of guru for other workers. I totally redesigned how we screened bugs, and implemented a plan that saved thousands of hours, qualified data, and generated a new and efficient way to target problems with our software. It was such a master plan, so logical and totally new, that the company still uses it to this day. Even though higher managers took credit for it and laid me off, I am not really upset by this: business is business. But when I got my review, my boss gave me all 8s, stating this was the highest rating upper management would allow. I asked him, "How come I didn't get a 9 or 10?" and he looked to the side and gave me the answer with posture. I knew the answer. It wasn't allowed. I told him not to feel bad, and he just laughed and agreed with a shaken head, open mouth, and a tongue click.
It kind of reminds me of supply clerks who will never give you last few of anything because "then I would be out of them, and what if there's an emergency?" But then they can't order anymore until they get rid of what they have, so you end up in this limbo of wheeling and dealing just to get staples or toilet paper.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000296.html