Chapter Summary

8.1  Discuss the difference between performance management and performance appraisals.

Performance management is a continual process that identifies, measures, manages, and develops the performance of people in the organization. It is designed to improve worker performance over time. Performance appraisal is the part of the performance management process that identifies, measures, and evaluates the employee’s performance and then discusses that performance with the individual. This should also be on an ongoing basis.

8.2  Explain the purposes of performance appraisals.

Communication is the first purpose. Appraisals need to provide an opportunity for formal two-way communication between management and the employee concerning how the organization feels the employee is performing. The second purpose is to gain information for evaluative decisions. We need good information on how employees are performing so that we can take fair and equitable actions with our workforce to improve organizational productivity. Providing motivation for development is the last major purpose. Used correctly, appraisals can motivate by providing opportunities for the employees to improve their performance over time.

8.3  Discuss the options for what to evaluate in a performance appraisal.

Our three primary options for what to evaluate are traits, behaviors, and results. There is some evidence that particular types of traits are valuable in jobs that require management and leadership skills, but many traits have been shown to have very little bearing on job performance, meaning they are not valid measures of performance. We can also use behaviors to evaluate our workers. Measuring behaviors is usually a much better appraisal option because physical actions or behaviors can be directly observed, and as a result, they are more likely to be a valid assessment of the individual’s performance. Finally, we can evaluate performance based on results. Results are a concrete measure of what has happened in the organization. However, results may be skewed based on factors that are outside the control of the individual who is being evaluated.

8.4  List the commonly used performance measurement methods and forms.

The critical incidents method utilizes records of major employee actions over the course of the appraisal period to complete the employee evaluation. MBO uses objectives jointly set by the manager and employee to gauge employee performance during the evaluation period. In the narrative method, the manager writes either a structured or unstructured paragraph about the employee’s performance. Graphic rating scales provide a numerical scale so that the manager can check off where an employee falls on the continuum. BARS forms provide a description of the behaviors that make up acceptable performance at each level on the scale. Finally, ranking creates a hierarchy of employees, from best to worst.

8.5  Discuss the available options for determining the rater/evaluator.

It is logical to choose supervisors as evaluators when they have ongoing contact with the subordinate and know the subordinate’s job. When the supervisor may not spend lots of time with the individual employee, peers may make better evaluators because they may know the job of the individual employee better than the supervisor does and may be more directly affected by the employee’s actions. Subordinate evaluations can give us good insight into the managers who control employees in our organization. We may want to use customers as evaluators when the individual being evaluated has frequent contact with those customers, because we need to know how customers feel about their interactions with our employees. Self-evaluation is valuable in a number of management processes, from training and development to counseling and disciplinary measures, among others.

8.6  Name some of the common problems encountered with performance appraisals and provide a method used to avoid each.

Personal biases and stereotyping are two of the most significant appraisal problems. Other problems include halo error, distributional errors (either the grading is too harsh or too lenient, or everyone is judged to be average), similarity error, proximity error, recency error, and contrast error.

There are several ways to avoid these problems. The first option would be to develop accurate performance measures. Accurate performance measures use multiple criteria, minimize trait-based evaluations, and can be analyzed using the OUCH test and the Blanchard test. Next, we should train the evaluators, because as soon as they know some of the common errors, those errors will become less pronounced. We can also use multiple raters to mitigate any potentially biased evaluations and minimize other errors such as similarity, contrast, and attribution errors.

8.7  Briefly discuss the differences between evaluative performance reviews and developmental performance reviews.

The evaluative interview is a review of the individual employee’s performance over a certain period. The evaluation needs to be fair and equitable, not based on bias. The employee must be given the opportunity to talk as well as listen to the critique of their performance. The developmental interview, on the other hand, focuses on areas for improvement over time. You should have employees come up with their own objectives and strategies for improvement, and you should develop your own objectives for them.