Merit Pay & Dead Wood

(responding to someone elses post) - Imbedded in your question is the assumption that the 'Merit System' is an entity upon itself. A tool, a methodology that has a purpose and contributes to the customer, organization, or society. And that the merit system has a direct replacement {hold that thought}.

When Dr. Deming was asked what to do in place of the 'Merit System'‚ (or performance appraisals) - frequently his answer was 'Whatever Peter Scholtes says'.

Peter Scholtes' last book The Leaders Handbook: A Guide To Inspiring Your People and Managing The Daily WorkFlow is a good start for understanding. From the Preface Peter says "Chapter 9 confronts the most harmful managerial assumptions and practices (performance appraisal and merit pay, etc.) and offer alternative approaches."

Basically, ask the question 'what is the Merit System supposed to do', articulate the underlying management assumptions, then find something better to accomplish the intent.

I love a story Peter Scholtes told. At one of his lectures on performance appraisals, came the following dialoge:

Audience: 'Without Performance Appraisals how are we going to identify the 'Dead Wood' in our organization.' 
Peter: 'Why are you hiring dead wood?'
Audience: 'We DON'T hire dead wood!'
Peter: 'Why are you hiring live wood and killing it?!'

In my experience, I haven't found anything that support the Merit System as the best solution to anything. Then why to do performance appraisals continue? My only conclusion is that: it is always easier to judge someone else to a subjective (or misguided) standard than do the hard work to actually lead an organization.

Actually the supervisors I've know understand that the whole thing is silly, but they are required to do them. Note: I worked for a guy who just didn't do them one year, and the trouble he got into was just crazy (and he was a corporate director).

Back to your question: much understanding is required to 'replace' the merit system. It is more humane, easier, and quicker to just stop doing it!

 Dave Nave & Associates 2017   -   dave@davenave.com