Ford Shifts Gears On Employee Grading System

July 12, 2001 ( - Ford has decided to change its controversial performance evaluation system that has set off a series of age and reverse discrimination bias suits.

Ford says the decision wasn’t a response to the suits at least a half dozen have been filed to date regarding application of the year-old Performance Management Process. The automaker claims the change was a response to concerns expressed by managers regarding the “adverse effect on teamwork and morale.”

Over the weekend, the AARP had offered to provide research, free legal services and attorneys to litigate the age bias allegations (see  AARP Lends A Hand With Ford Bias Suit ).  

Ford had applied the system, which “graded” workers “A”, “B” or “C”, to its 18,000 managers and supervisors ( see Ford Workers Give Performance System an “F” , Managers Sue Ford For Reverse Discrimination ).

The program began with a “forced” distribution that called for at least 10% of employees to be rated a “C” a ranking that impacted raises and bonuses. Those rated “C” for two years running ran the risk of losing their jobs.

The 10% distribution was later softened to 5%.

Ford says it will replace the system with three designations of

  • top achiever
  • achiever
  • improvement required

However, there will not be a fixed percentage applied to the lower ranking, and that those rated “improvement required” will not necessarily lose compensation, according to a report from the Associated Press.