Axis Bank is India’s third largest private sector lender. Traditionally, its approach to performance management and appraisal has been based on what is called the bell curve system. This is a forced ranking approach to judging performance that rates everyone’s performance and ranks them into categories of top performers (possibly the top 10 per cent), medium performers (the next 80 per cent) and then the poor performers (the bottom 10 per cent). The ranking forces managers to make judgements about performance by comparing staff with each other and fitting them into the categories. In some cases, those in the bottom category might be removed or referred elsewhere. In this way, the system provides a warning for those already in or close to the poor performance category. Senior managers at Axis decided that this approach was divisive and over-focused on top performers. Instead, the bank has moved towards a system based on integrated performance management and capability development for all staff. This would also allow Axis to focus more on learning and development as part of performance management, which would help the bank to retain staff who might otherwise be poached by other finance organizations. Introduction Ever since you arrived at university or college, you knew that there would at some point be an assessment of your work performance. Whether in the form of examinations, assignments, group activities and so on, you have had the chance to demonstrate your capabilities and develop your potential.
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