Essay, 5 pages (1200 words)

Major strengths of the instrument essay

Performance appraisal has become a standard people management practice in most of the organizations. In some companies, appraisal is considered as a strategic exercise to integrate HR activities and institutional policies. Employee appraisal has become common tool covering a variety of activities through which organizations assess an employee and develop his or her competence, enhance performance and distribute rewards (Fletcher, 2001). Long time back, the practice of appraisal has moved away from traditional, standard and psychometric format to flexible, strategic and positive approaches (Levy and Williams, 2004). The appropriate way to describe the current appraisal process must be aboutenriching the employee attitude, experiences, and skills so as to enhance the effectiveness of employees (Boswell and Boudreau, 2002). The following piece summarizes the review of the Performance Portfolio Assessment which is the format for appraising the employees of student and client service area of Regional University (RU).

Management techniques used

Performance appraisal is one of the most critical human resource practices and widely researched topics in work psychology (Fletcher, 2002). The matter of performance appraisal is a subject of research for over 70 years (Landy and Farr, 1980). Many methods of appraisal are in use, but every method has advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the situation the company HR managers must adopt a suitable method. With respect to the RU appraisal, it is simple to implement and there are no ambiguous sections. The method used by the RU appraisal is dominated by the method of critical incident approach, followed by management by objectives and the rating scale.
The review has three sections, one, performance around work objectives, two, evaluation of achievements for one year, and participation in development activities and learning. Every major section of the appraisal has a three-point rating-scale i.e. Areas of development, meets expectation, and exceeds expectation. The rating scale is easy to comprehend and implement. The appraisal is dominated by critical incidents. Most of the appraisal implies open ended questions. For example, the work objective is ‘provide quality service to meet the administrative needs of students/clients’, both supervisor as well the individual must write their response in the given space.

As mentioned earlier, The RU’s appraisal system is combination of three methods, i.e. rating scale, critical incident method and management by objectives. There are at least two benefits associated with rating scale. One, rating scales are less time consuming to use and develop, and it allows the mangers to compare quantitatively.
Both employee and supervisor have to give descriptive responses to the RU appraisal. There are many benefits associated with this method of appraising. Each employee will have an opportunity to highlight his or her performance. People who have done some action only will find it easy to fill the spaces. The supervisor as well as the employee must keep track of the unusual but every day achievements to be expressed in the yearly appraisal. The list of critical incidents is a form of documentation that can be archived for future use in project allocation, promotions, transfers, etc.
In the RU appraisal, it is assumed that the individual (employee) is aware of his or her shortcomings and knows more than anyone else about his/her capabilities, motives, strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. The appraisal give emphasize to future performance of the individual rather than doing the post-mortem of the past. Finally, the supervisor and the employee can negotiate their way towards a constructive end. A smart supervisor can know the focus of the subordinate and take the corrective steps to link the work to the organizational goal.

Challenges of the Appraisal process

Even though the RUs appraisal form is simple to complete, it can have serious flaws. Identifying the key behaviors that had positive impact is a difficult task. Only trained minds can do such a job. Neither the supervisor not the employee will have the sharpness to identify the key behaviors. Many day-to-day incidents and events go unnoticed; hence the current appraisal cannot capture the complete performance of an individual. Second the yearly appraisal is at the mercy of the errors in person perception. There are many attribution errors reported by the researchers such as halo error, fundamental attribution error, self-serving bias, etc. Overcoming such human ailments is not easy.
Many managers and supervisors take appraisal as an activity not connected to their function, but as compliance to the HR department. Because of this attitude the results of the appraisal may be erratic. Even if the managers are sharp in understanding the performance of their colleague, they may not be able to articulate it properly. Sometimes, supervisors use flowery language which may not reflect the real performance. Even if the supervisor understands and writes an objective report about the employee, the person who receives the report may have a distorted view about the employee. The challenges of the appraisal are very elusive and complex.

Improving the appraisal

One of the important ingredients that were missing in the appraisal is related to organizational goal or big picture. The appraisal was assessing the employee performance in an isolated manner, instead the appraisal must help the employees to link reviews to organizational goals. Involving other people who are interacting with the employee, can be another way to increase the effectiveness of the appraisal. A prior knowledge that an employee will be reviewed, prompts the employee to do better. Instead of listing just performance of the employee, the organization must help the employees to know how their work impacts the business and the market.
Allow the employees to be part of the strategy making sessions, so they can be proud “When employees are involved in crafting organizational goals, they are more likely to understand them, buy into them, and work toward them. Even though the RU appraisal is simple and easy to fill, many employees and their supervisors often feel painful and demotivated ( Davis and Landa ,1999). Authentic communication between supervisor and employee can bring excellent culture within the organization. Hence, an assessment regarding the supervisor – employee relationship is very important. Kondrasuk et al. (2002) also suggests integrating the process of feedback into the daily interactions of supervisors and subordinates.
Another way to improve the appraisal is to include 360-degree evaluation in the appraisal system. 360-degree refers to assessment from many quarters surrounding the individual such as peers, superiors, customer, vendors etc. When appraisal is from multi-dimensional format, the employee will get a chance of getting insight into his own performance from various angles. Self-report of the values and ethics practiced also could be a valuable method of appraising. Not only, skills, knowledge and performance are important, values and ethics is emerging as the key factors in career success. Informal, open conversations can make the supervisor – subordinate relation much productive.


Levy, P. E. and Williams, J. R, 2004, “The social context of performance appraisal: A review and framework for the future”, Journal of Management, 30, 881–905.
Boswell, W. R. and Boudreau, J. W. 2001, “How leading companies create, measure, and achieve strategic results through “line of sight”, Management Decision, 39, 851–59.
Landy, F. J., and Farr, J. L. 1980, “Performance rating”, Psychological Bulletin 87: 72-107.
Davis, T. & Landa. M, 1999, A Contrary Look at performance Appraisal. Canadian
Manager/Manager Canadian, Fall, 18-28.
Feldman, J.M. 1981, Beyond Attribution Theory: Cognitive Processes in Performance Appraisal. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 66, 2, 127-148.
Milkovich, G. T., & Boudreau, J, W, C. 1997, “Human resource management”, Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin.
Kondrasuk, J.N. et al.,2002, An Elusive Panacea: The Ideal Performance Appraisal. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 64 (2), 15-31

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