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Performance Ratings: Using Adjectives vs. Numbers

/ July 7, 2016 July 7, 2016

How would it go over if, during the next round of employee evaluations, you replaced numeric ratings with adjectives?

In other words, instead of ranking workers on a scale of 1 to 5, you picked five adjectives to describe their work. Perhaps words like “industrious,” “prolific” or “creative.”

As big-name companies reconsider the traditional employee evaluation, at least two Wall Street investment giants are scrapping numeric rankings in favor of descriptive words, arguing that numbers can’t fully capture an employee’s contribution to an organization.

“The problem with using numbers to rate performance is the majority of people are squeezed into a very tight range that shows little distinction between superstars and poor performers,” said Merrick Rosenberg, CEO and founder of career coaching company Take Flight Learning in Marlton, N.J. “When they are characterized with adjectives that validate who they are and what they do, they are likely to be satisfied.”


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