The idea of a merit rating is alluring. The sound of the words captivates the imagination: pay for what you get; get what you pay for; motivate people to do their best, for their own good.
The effect is exactly the opposite of what the words promise. Everyone propels himself forward, or tries to, for his own good, on his own life preserver. The organization is the loser.
The merit rating rewards people that conform to the system. It does not reward attempts to improve the system. Don’t rock the boat.
W. Edwards Deming, “The Merit System: The Annual Appraisal: Destroyer of People,” 1986. Reprinted in The Essential Deming, page 27.