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The Myth of the Bell Curve

The Myth of the Bell Curve
There is a long standing belief in business that people performance follows the Bell Curve (also called the Normal Distribution). This belief has been embedded in many business practices: performance appraisals, compensation models, and even how we get graded in school. (Remember "grading by the curve?") Research shows that this statistical model, while easy to understand, does not accurately reflect the way people perform. As a result, HR departments and business leaders inadvertently create agonizing problems with employee performance and happiness. Witness Microsoft's recent decision to disband its performance management process - after decades of use the company realized it was encouraging many of its top people to leave. Does human performance follow the bell curve? Let's look at the characteristics of the Bell Curve, and I think you'll quickly understand why the model doesn't fit. The Bell Curve represents what statisticians call a "normal distribution." The answer is no. 1. 2. 3.

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