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The Vitality Bell Curve

I read the book Straight from the Gut almost ten years ago.  I read it when I was a young manager. I was young so as much as I was receiving great mentoring from my superiors - I struggled through some basic things that a manager should do.  Those struggles included the ability to identify the right person to hire,  providing positive and negative feedback, and the worst part - how to fire people who are just not cutting it.  So I read a lot of business books.  One of those books was Jack's book.  Reading Jack Welch's book was a great way of getting the perspective of someone who has lead a great company like General Electric to year after year of profitability.

I recall this book because it's time to finalize the evaluations of our respective teams.  Our company follows what is called by Jack - as the Vitality Curve.  He explains in his book ( I can't recall his exact words ) - that people's performance follow the Bell Curve.  There are those who fall on the top 20%, approximately 60% are at par with performance expectations, and 20% fall below that.  It's a performance rating discipline that each manager should follow.   In this scheme - the top 20% - are rewarded for their great performance.  The bottom 20% are coached to improve or else.

This process is not simple.  As an executive, I have learned that it becomes easier when you are talking about numbers.  However - at the end of the day - it's not just about numbers - it's also about behavior.  In my team - we've made it a point to calibrate across all managers to make sure that we have consistent expectations.  So when I start new teams - deliberations can last hours.  However - after doing it twice - the deliberation exercise becomes easier.

So far - using the Vitality Curve has worked for me and my teams.  How about you?  Have you worked for an organization who follows the Vitality Curve?  What are your personal thoughts on how effective it is for you in driving great performance in your team?

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