Rank And Fire

Attrition isn't working, so best-to-worst grading is gaining--and those on the bottom get the boot

June is nail-biting time at Enron Corp., a Texas energy and trading giant, at which managers assemble twice a year to evaluate and cull employees as if they were head of cattle. Wrangling behind closed doors for up to two days at a time, the bosses compare and contrast the performance of workers over the prior six months and rate them on a five-point scale, with the top 5% designated "superior" and the bottom 15% labeled "needs improvement." In between are "excellent" (30%), "strong" (30%) and "satisfactory" (20%). You don't want to be in the cellar: anyone described as needing improvement...

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