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How to be the perfect bell-curve shaped employee

So I wouldn’t really say I’m a “morning person”...whilst I’m not averse to the odd 7am rise [mostly due to an ongoing battle to this fucking annoying piece of shit magpie that loves to squawk to you know, warn me from taking it’s piece of shit-kicker baby magpies… “gee relax bro, I don’t you’re your baby magpies”]…truth is, I wouldn’t class myself as a “morning person”. And let’s face it, after the 5,000 billion autobiographies of various good and not so good CEOs who all say that they’re “morning people who wake up at 4am”, now saying you’re a “morning person” is just a not-so-subtle way to establish with a new acquaintance that you’re hardcore and consider yourself “CEO material”. To me, people who say that they’re “morning people” are akin to those people who go running at lunchtime in the rain – you only know they’re doing it to make a point to the rest of the normal lunch-going, rain-avoiding population, that they’re ‘special’ and hardcore and “oh look at me, with my sweat-rain beads dripping down my corporate-logo-ed running shirt and wet, matted hair…I’m soooo awesome”. However ultimately if you actively wake up at 4am and your reason for being awake does not include coming home from a night out, nursing a baby, or cleaning your prints form a crime you may be implicated in, then there’s no reason to actively wake yourself up at 4am. It’s just revolting.

 Further this “morning person” phenomenon, belies the scientifically proven fact that your brain will only kick into gear in the morning if a) you have an urgent deadline or b) it’s after lunch and you’ve just gone through your morning to lunch routine of coffee, check email for nothing urgent, breakfast, twitter on toilet, coffee run, morning tea, read newspaper, lunch, begin work…

 Regardless, today was different. For some reason, I started right at the top. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I even got to experience that awesome moment when you walk up to a crossing, where heaps of people are waiting to cross, and YOU come up and press the button and it instantly turns to the green man…”oh yeah, look at me bitches, I make stuff happen” is what you say to yourself whilst smirking…people look at you as if YOU are the Chosen One…you start to think that you are to the crossing button what the Fonz was to jukeboxes…. [oh what did I just make a Happy Days reference? Lol] …anyway that’s where my day started. However the reality is that when you start there, there really is only one way for the rest of your day to go….

Chart 1: Forecast Performance of My Day When It Starts At The Top

Bell Curve 1

And as my highly scientific chart predicted, my day only got worse…it was inevitable…as today was my Half Yearly Review. [YEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAA it’s my most favourite time of the year, ie. The review that matters so little but still manages to propel the corporate-review-mantra of “be mean, keep em’ keen”].

Anyway, I’d love to go into the contents of my review but I can almost guarantee that you have heard it all before. Seriously. I’m pretty sure there’s a standard “Half Year Review Comments” deck, that once you have “Manager” in your title, you get given alongside your ‘Gospel of How to Demotivate and Suck the Life Out of Employees’. I’m almost certain I’ve been receiving the same exact comments, word-for-word about my performance since I’ve started working….actually probably since Primary School. It’s probably one conspiracy that starts when you’re 6 years old, and every year, each teacher/boss just uses the same template but hits F7, finds a couple of different words then delivers it to you in a way so that you feel appreciated but not valued…

Anyway…one of the interesting things, which has always existing but only really caught my interest recently, was the fact that my rating was justified on the grounds of “oh you know, we rated you x, but we have to standardise everyone into a bell-curve, and well you know, with a bell-curve, the majority score around the mid-range, and only people who are truly exceptional.”.

Scores of companies around the world, justify performance of individuals on this basis – good and bad performers are forced to fit into bell-curve….but why? So that you can say that the vast majority of your workforce are about average? So that both your good and your bad employees can be lumped together, unless of course they’re exceptional? That despite all your investment in recruiting top people, you’d prefer to have them all perform within boundaries and fit within an out-dated model, no doubt perpetuated by shit HR who can’t be bothered re-charting employee performance every year?

Chart 2: Presumably What An “Ideal Employee” Looks Like:

Bell Curve 2

Most interesting in the Bell-Curve Farce, is the fact that the company that invented it, Microsoft, recently decided to ditch it. Lol. The system apparently created a ‘cut throat’ culture at work [hmm something tells me that generally that the words ‘cut’ ‘throat’ and ‘work’ really shouldn’t be in the same sentence unless if you work for the mafia…in that instance, whilst it is morally reprehensible and illegal, your work can be described as ‘cutthroat’]. Microsoft are now adopting a performance review system which involves more feedback and regular catch-ups…


More catch-ups??????????? More feedback for employees to let them know how they’re going??????? A sensible model for managing employees?????????? What the fuck?????????

Yeah who’d have thunk it. Go figure.


About Arani Satgunaseelan (78 Articles)
Corporate nerd. Wannabe blogger.

3 Comments on How to be the perfect bell-curve shaped employee

  1. I love your posts, and hate your spelling of while.

  2. Awesome read :) Very funny – especially your take on morning people and lunchtime runners!

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