Performance Appraisal Skills

A skills programme by Tremendis Learning

Ranking Methods

Ranking Methods

Ranking Methods

Ranking methods compare employees in a group to one another. All involve an evaluator who asks managers to rank employees from the "best" to the "worst" with respect to specific job performance criteria.

The three most common variations of this method are as follows:

  • Straight ranking: Employees are simply listed in order of ranking.
  • Forced comparison: Every employee is paired with every other employee in the group, and in each case, the manager identifies the better of the two employees in any pairing. The employees are ranked by the number of times they're identified as the best.
  • Forced distribution: The employees are ranked along a standard statistical distribution, the so-called Bell Curve.


  • Can be helpful in presenting an overall picture of employee strengths and weaknesses throughout the company
  • Requires little training


  • Is the most subjective of appraisal methods
  • Provides little information on training and development needs
  • Focuses on individuals rather than job outcomes or behaviors
  • Forces raters to evaluate employees in terms of other employees
  • One of the ranking methods, forced distribution, is suitable only for large groups to be statistically valid, typically thousands of employees.
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