Performance Appraisals

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Performance Appraisals: The Good and the Bad

Performance appraisals have been around in some form or fashion for quite a while now. Dating mainly back until the time of the second world war, they have been a distinct and formal management procedure used to evaluate work performance. A scholar named Dulewicz (1989) said "…there is a basic human tendency to make judgments about those one is working with, as well as about oneself." (Introduction to Performance Appraisal)

With these natural tendencies to judge and evaluate the ones that we work with, it can also create serious motivational, ethical, and legal problems in the workplace. Without an organized, consistent appraisal system, there is little chance of ensuring that if taken to court, a judgment over the termination of a under average worker will be lawful or fair.

Performance appraisal systems began first-off to be a simple method of income justification, meaning it really was put in use to decide whether or not the salary or wage of an individual employee was justified. The process definitely linked to material outcomes. A cut in pay would follow if an employee's performance was found to be less than ideal.

As does everything else, appraisals have evolved greatly. They are considered a periodic interview, in which the work performance of the employee is graded, and discussed, with a view on weaknesses and strengths as well as great opportunities and skills development.

There are many people who are against performance appraisals. For example, there are many people who would gladly admit their problems at work, if they knew their next pay raise was riding on an appraisal result. With something like this, management has to watch out for employees downplaying their weaknesses. In recent studies, even though flawed, employers have been greatly accepting the appraisal process more than in the past.

Although performance appraisals are an incredible way to evaluate, they have to be kept consistent among all employees, and fair as well. In the past, there has been a rising problem with managers giving employers inflated appraisals. This is not a good thing when used. Poor employees are given a title of marginally competent, marginal employees get satisfactory, and satisfactory employees get an above standard rating. All these are not good for a business to do, mainly for legal reasons. It gives the employers a false sense of security and hinders performance improvement. Employees that have been discharged but have good evaluations also have grounds and evidence to sue for unlawful discharge.

As stated earlier, consistency in evaluations is crucial. If one of your good employees does something good, and is recognized, then one of your worse employees should be able to get the same praise for the same instance. No favorites can be played. If so, legal problems follow. There are quite a few ways to ensure evaluation accuracy. It's advised that evaluations are done on a calendar basis, not on the anniversary of employment. Important comparisons cannot be made that need to be in this situation. It's always a good idea to hold regular meetings with supervisors to discuss problems in the organization, whether it be a problem with an employee and his supervisor, or anything job related. This will help reinforce things that might seem to be obvious, but aren't.

Not surprisingly, most companies are dissatisfied with their performance appraisal system. William M. Mercer recently did a survey that showed that more than half (51%) of the 218 companies surveyed that "their employee evaluation process offered little or no value to the organization." (Improved Performance appraisals: Process of elimination) Also, 64% spoke of plans to redesign their process.

Also, New York-based Mercer Human Resource Consulting found that 1/3 of responding workers even had a formal performance appraisal in the previous 12 months. Also, only 29% believe...
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