Case 7.1: The Politics of Performance Appraisal
Max Steadman, Jim Coburn, Lynne Sims, and Tom Hamilton are managers at Eckel Industries, a manufacturer of arc-welding equipment in Minneapolis. They work in the manufacturing division each supervising a different department within the division. Every Friday the managers meet after work for drinks to relax, gossip, and give and receive advice about problems on the job. This week they discuss performance appraisals which they recently conducted. Each of the managers completed evaluation forms using graphic rating scales on each employee then discussed the appraisal with that employee. Throughout the discussion they give their opinions on how performance appraisals should be conducted and flaws that are in the system. Tom talks about how emotions play into the process and create biases however he believes that providing true and accurate feedback is a top priority. Jim believes what he learned from a professor in college that when you sit down to evaluate an employee’s performance in the past year, you will only recall and use about 15 percent of the performance you actually observed. He also thinks fine-tuning is warranted in certain situations. For example, if an employee whose performance has been poor a majority of the year but significantly improves at the end of the year, Jim will give the employee a higher rating over the whole year than the work deserves. He believes it will encourage them to keep improving. Lynne thinks political considerations are a part of the appraisal process and takes other factors into consideration besides performance. She has inflated ratings to encourage and show support to someone going through some personnel issues that was negatively reflected in her work. Finally, Max has a primary objective to motivate and reward his employees so they will perform better and uses the performance appraisals to do what is best for the employee and his department including fine-tuning. They also...
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