Everyone is not a Topper, so what…?

bell curve

A lot has been researched, written and debated about ‘bell curves’ in the last couple of decades. Many events in this world follows a bell curve; so, there are few toppers, few laggards and a whole lot of players who are in between. Howsoever hard one may try, the performance pattern follows the curve : some days are great; some players are great; some are great in a particular aspect. But, what to do with the remaining days, people or the aspects? Is it essential to discriminate the non-Toppers when you need a team to win? Is it essential to find the Topper always?

Most organisations practicing meritocracy as a norm use bell curves in evaluating performance of their employees and decide their remuneration, career paths and development plans accordingly. Employees go through tremendous amount of stress during the appraisal cycle. Organizations turn their focus substantially inward during those 6-12 weeks of the year. If it helps in housekeeping, rejuvenating and a take-off, it’s worth taking a pit stop. However, the fact is, during the few weeks, the grapevines run abuzz procrastinating, gossiping and hallucinating; employees get into a lot of selective hearing; a lot of efforts are spent in selective glorification of the time which has gone by, each action that one took gets defended and a very little attention is paid to plan ahead. I think, it’s a colossal wastage of time and energy. Instead of a rejuvenation, passion and positive drive, one deals with a lot of negative energy; misses the opportunity of self-reflection and seeing the image on the mirror.

Let’s look at nature and think if it follows the bell curve in deciding the outcomes and if it finds Toppers among its own creations. Day and Night, Seasons, Land and Sea, Hills and Plains, many more such creations are treated equally when it provides its resources and each one of these creations have their unique roles to play in the overall ecosystem that it has created. It doesn’t say who is greater than the other! then, why are we obsessed with glorifying the Toppers?

For the organization to do better, the team has to raise the bar for itself and each player in the team has to do better each day to earn one’s unique position. The life cycle of birth to death has to be played out such that each person plays the unique role in the team. The environment in the team and the organization has to be such that the team loves raising the bar to win each time. Winning need not be making someone else lose each time. I think, it’s a lot about the culture that one establishes in the team. It has to be a lot of transparency where open and honest communication takes place each hour and each day. For example, a score board doesn’t lie : It is open each minute of the game, each month, each quarter and each year! The team which loves raising the bar discusses the score board, the benchmarks and the ways to do things differently in each of their meetings. The atmosphere there is free from insecurity and criticism. There is mutual respect, trust and genuine attempt to collaborate to succeed. The players keep their ego aside. Easier said than done!

The leader needs to trust his/her people, build the atmosphere of mutual trust and collaboration in the team so that the players feel secured, join hands to excel and make one another successful. Everybody is a Topper and Nobody is a loser in that situation. Let’s do it!

2 thoughts on “Everyone is not a Topper, so what…?

  1. Hi Aditya,
    Great article at the start. However, in the end you are suggesting a score board which will in itself start identifying the winner from the loser & give way to negativity. Isn’t it?


    1. Ekta, Thanks for going through this!

      The point on scoreboards is about transparency that is essential to uphold the value of fairness in any setting. And it’s again the leader who has to ensure that the scoreboard is not used to punish someone, belittle someone rather to move up the curve as a team. It’s beyond doubt that progress of a team is possible when each one in the team raises the benchmark for oneself. So, the leader has to make sure that the team members understand how each of them are uniquely valued and each one of them need to scale greater heights!!


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