Performance appraisal is probably the most misused and abused management
tool in history. When asked, the majority of human resource managers
will swear blind that it is their most important device for reviewing
members of the team. The reality is that, on the whole, managers,
supervisors, and employees hate the thoughts of them and they rarely get
done. Human resource professionals spend a lot of time whipping people
into doing them, while managers look for a variety of reasons to delay
The reason for this is that it's often an
uncomfortable practice to carry out, people undertake performance
appraisal for the wrong reasons and from the wrong perspective. This can
end up putting the manager and the employee on different "sides".
Appraisals are used for determining pay increases, who gets let go, who
gets promoted. Most commonly, they are used to focus on what people have
So what is the real point of performance
appraisals? Generally, the aim of the practice is to:
- Give feedback on performance to employees.
- Identify employee training needs.
- Document criteria used to allocate organizational rewards.
- Form a basis for personnel decisions: salary increases, promotions,
disciplinary actions, etc.
- Provide the opportunity for organizational diagnosis and
- Facilitate communication between employee and administrator.
- Validate selection techniques and human resource policies to meet
federal Equal Employment Opportunity requirements
important purpose or goal of the appraisal is to improve performance in
the future, in both employees and team leaders. Managers can get
valuable information from staff to help them make their jobs more
productive. Through feedback given in performance appraisals work units
can identify problems that interfere with everyone's, and take steps to
rectify them. If there is a shift from affixing blame to identifying
barriers to performance the fear and dread associated with appraisals
will be removed.
When managers put away the "blaming stick" in
appraisals and move to a cooperative, dialogue approach, the whole
process can become more comfortable and effective. Because, it puts the
manager and employee on the same side, and working towards the same
goals, getting better and better.
Performance appraisals are
always awkward for everyone. While managers make an effort to be as
objective as possible, there are always concerns about specific
performance appraisals, and their accuracy. When you're evaluating your
staff it's wise to be aware of factors that may affect your assessments.
Here are a few factors you should be aware of, so that you can examine
your own assessment processes to ensure that they are as free from bias
as possible. Generalizing
or the halo effect, is the tendency to rate someone high or low in all
categories, based on their performance in other areas. Results of
performance appraisals, where generalising occurs, do not help develop
employees because they are inaccurate and unspecific to their entire
performance. Different Standards of Evaluation
terms such as fair, good, excellent, etc, are commonly used in
performance appraisals, yet managers should be aware that the meaning of
these words will differ from person to person. In any case, the use of
these categories is not recommended; they are just too unspecific and do
little to provide sufficient information to evaluate individuals and
help them develop. Current and Lenient Bias
bias is the tendency to assess people based on their most recent
performance and to ignore previous behavior. Leniency bias occurs when
the employee gets rated higher than warranted, this is usually
accompanied by rationalization as to why this is appropriate. Opportunity
This occurs as a result of ignoring the notion
that factors beyond the control of the employee may either restrict or
facilitate their performance. In the case of opportunity bias, credit or
blame is given to the employee when the true cause of the performance
was opportunity. False Attribution Errors
is often a tendency, in performance appraisal, to attribute success or
failure to individual effort and ability. So when someone does well, we
give them credit, and when someone does less well, we suggest it's
somehow their fault. While there is some truth in this, the reality is
that performance is a function of both the individual and the system he
or she works in. If both factors are not taken into account, it will be
increasingly difficult to improve on performance.
performance appraisals are commonly dreaded throughout the company, from
team leader to employee, they are a necessary tool in ensuring
development. If conducted fairly and appropriately the information
gathered can be used to vastly improve the performance of the entire
About the Author:
Sheila Mulrennan is a
Professional development specialist in research and writing articles
relating to Personal Development Training
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