This essay concentrates on the problems encountered by human resources professionals with appraisal systems and explores whether they have sufficient validity for the continued evaluation of individuals performance within organisations. Despite appraisal systems being unpopular with some line managers and individual employees’, appraisals do provide an important indicator for organisations to evaluate the performance and contribution gained from employees.
Bratton ; Gold (2005) view appraisals as a process that provides an analysis of and a person’s overall capabilities and potential, allowing informed decisions to be made for particular purposes. Despite this, there are other purposes for appraisals in addition to evaluating performance such as determining reward, selecting people for promotion and setting goals & targets. Performance management is an important element for employee and organisational success, by jointly setting objectives managers and employees ensure objectives are relevant to the employees’ role and related to the organisations corporate priorities.
“Performance management was the primary means by which they ensured a ‘line of sight’ between strategic goals and individual activity and behaviours: ‘It’s about creating a line of sight between what the individual does and what the organisation needs” (CIPD, 2009). Performance management should not be a labour intensive process but should involve a certain degree of discussion between managers and employees at several stages of the process.
These are setting the objectives, mid-year and year end reviews and throughout the year as employees require direction and development and managers provide on-going performance feedback. By exploring the benefits of appraisals for measuring performance and the views of line management ; employees, it will be possible to consider the various weaknesses and arguments of abandonment and alternative modern approaches of interpreting appraisals/performance management.
One of the key problems which arise from appraisals from a managers perspective is that they dislike the attributes required to be subjective in the appraisal process. “Managers experienced the appraisal of others as a hostile and aggressive act against employees that resulted in feelings of guilt related to being critical of employees” (Levinson, 1970, Cited Bratton J ; Gold J, 2003, p252). Traditional appraisals tend to be critical of an individuals performance over a defined period and results in feedback being presented by the manager.
When considering the actual purpose of appraisal and the resentment highlighted by managers, it can be argued that the purposes of appraisals are conflicting. Conflict behaviours can arises from the role of the manager and their responsibilities of judging the individual or help them with further training needs. Appraisals often ignore the manager’s role as a coach, preventing them from assessing and appraising the individual on a continuous basis both formally and informally.
“Sadly, in far too many instances, appraisal systems fall short of their goals, mainly because the aims are fragmented or unclear at times and because of a lack of commitment” (Reid, Barrington & Brown, 2004, p55). Organisations have moved away from the above type of traditional appraisal system towards performance management, so that assessment can be more precise and strategic towards the organisations’ objectives. By assessing individuals against the organisational objectives, it provides a clear bench mark for the individual to perform.
From an organisational perspective, appraisals often ignored other areas of Human Resources practice and policy in regard to communication ; motivation. Key advantages of performance management are that the employee not only has a formal development plan created in discussion with the manager but also an understanding of where they fit within an organisation. “…. It is a common view among managers that staff will perform better if they understand the contribution that their work makes to meeting objectives and goals of the organisation.
” (Hackman and Oldham, 1976, Cited Leopold J, Harris L ; Watson T, 2005,p184). Often in organisations there are several layers of organisational goals across the hierarchy and employees can feel like they’re a small cog in a vast machine. By linking their achievements to the wider priorities, employees are much better placed to make strategic links which help them to think and work in within a wider context and environment.