I don't know why people get so upset about being ranked. There are some people where I used to work that seem to have a real problem with being ranked. At the time of reviews, all the managers get together and essentially rank you against the other employees in your peer group. This is how the decide on who gets what for a bonus, raise, promotion, etc.
I personally feel I should be told my rank. If there are 20 people who I'm being compared against, I want to know if I'm 1, 7, or 20. In any company, this has to happen. People must be differentiated. If you don't differentiate people, than you have people who slack off getting the same rewards as people who do all the work. All that leads to are people at the top wondering why they are working so hard and doing all the work yet getting the same benefits as everyone else. This leads to them either leaving the company or working less hard, which in turn is bad for everyone. Even the people at the bottom as the company is likely to go under when everyone stops giving a damn.
Now, we are not actually told a number where we are ranked. You can kind of figure out where you are by figuring out how your review went and what type of rewards you got. But seriously, I think I should be given a number. Why is hiding the number and not telling anyone, yet still coming up with that ranking and using it to figure out something as important as raises and promotions, a good thing. Who does it help? Is it going to hurt someones feelings? Does it make it better to see that you clearly got the low end of rewards but not know you are at the bottom of the ranking? Do these people kid themselves into believing they aren't at the bottom?
When I was in High School I knew my rank. I was #8 in my graduating class (out of about 600). For someone as competitive as I am, you would think it really bothered me. And you would be right, it did. I wanted to be #1, but I wasn't. I sought to improve, but in the end I wasn't angry that I was #8, it was what it was. I didn't hate #1-7, they were some of my best friends. If I can handle it as a teenager, why can't people handle it as adults?
Now I'm not saying that you make public who is ranked where. But you yourself should know where you rank at work if they are coming up with that number anyway.