InroductionI became interested in this topic awhile back while I was receiving one of my annual reviews. I could not stop thinking about how difficult it must be for a supervisor to develop on a continual basis several individual reviews for large department and still be unique and objective review after review. It became even more apparent to me how little I knew about the process, when I was promoted into a coaching position and was allowed to begin giving input on my team member! |s performance reviews. Although I have no complaints about the current review process in my company, I often wonder if there is not a better or easier way to go about the process.
So my question is: What, if any, are the alternatives? In this paper, I will review the aspects of the traditional performance appraisal, the 3600 degree performance review and De bundling, an alternative approach to the traditional performance appraisal proposed by Peter R. Scholtes in The Leader! |s Handbook, in an attempt to build the better performance appraisal. The Traditional Performance Appraisal Most often the performance appraisal for employees is conducted once a year and traditionally is a backward looking event. The process is based on a rating system and sums up what has been discussed and accomplished throughout the previous 12 months. The purpose is to give an employee opportunities in areas that need to be further developed.
Performance appraisal for evaluation using the traditional approach serves the following purposes: (Grote, p. 4-5) ""I Promotion, separation and transfer decisions""I Feedback to employees about their performance""I Evaluations of relative contributions made by the individuals""I Criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of selection and placement decisions""I Reward decisions, including merit increases, promotions and other rewards""I Determining training and development needs However, there are a few flaws in the traditional approach to performance appraisal. Some of these are:"I It is primarily concerned with past 12 months history rather than looking forward to future goals""I The appraisal is usually tied to the employees salary review""I Demands a large amount of time from the supervisor, requiring a lot of time and observations of employees performance""I Personal values and bias can replace organizational standards. For example, unfairly low ratings may be given to valued employees to prevent their promotions.
Or in the extreme, cases of discrimination."I Ratings can vary depending on the person doing the rating. Some supervisors are more lenient than others, the experience of the person giving the ratings can result in skewed scores, and the fear of conflict when delivering negative ratings Despite the negative impacts that can result from the traditional approach, if you have developed future performance plans, established goals and responsibilities, and actively communicated with the employee, the traditional performance appraisal can be a good tool. The 3600 Peer Review In Getting 360-Degree Feedback Right, the author explains the purpose of this review process! SSis to provide timely and useful feedback to help individuals improve their performance, !" also that! SS detailed, qualitative feedback from peers accompanied by coaching and supportive counseling from a manager is essential!" (p. 78). In his article, Peiperl discusses four paradoxes which are fundamental to the peer review process: The Paradox of Roles, The Paradox of Group Performance, The Measurement Paradox, and The Paradox of Rewards. In the Paradox of Roles, it states that colleagues are better able to judge a peers performance because bosses no longer have all the information they need.
However, because it is people who work closely with the appraise e, the feedback may be conservative for fear of damaging relationships and may be distorted and overly positive, resulting in inaccurate rewards. The Paradox of Group Performance was developed to gain insight into the workings of a team. However effective the group appraisal is, the appraisal stills tends to focus on the individual. This type of appraisal has the potential to create resentment among other team members, ultimately harming the relationship of the group.
The Measurement Paradox arises because ratings in the traditional performance appraisal fail to provide detailed, qualitative comments and insights which are helpful in improving performance. The drawback to this is that it is time consuming and can cause problems when the information is personal and characteristic. The Paradox of Rewards was created because employees tend to focus on the outcome of the reward, which in many cases only improves performance for a short time period. Peiperl says the problem with rewards is that employees are focusing on reward based performance issues such as attendance and ignoring constructive feedback.
He believes that feedback is what provides the best performance over the long run. When the 360-degree peer review is done properly and the reward aspects removed, this type of appraisal system has the potential to provide criticisms not only from superiors, but also colleagues. These criticisms can be viewed as unbiased and be seen as positive criticism which has the ability to improve performance over the long run. DebundlingIt is estimated that 90 percent of U. S companies now have some form of appraisal program in place. The term performance appraisal can be called many things including performance review, performance evaluation, personnel rating, merit rating, employee appraisal or employee evaluation.
No matter what the process is called, they all attempt to serve the same purpose. There are many arguments that say performance appraisals often leave employees unsatisfied, deflated and not sure exactly where they stand with their supervisor or for that matter, in their organization. So we ask of ourselves: Is there an alternative? In Peter E Scholtes book, The Leaders Handbook: A guide to inspiring people and managing the daily workflow, he claims that companies management practices are based on false assumptions and cynical beliefs. Based on the reasons companies give for utilizing the traditional performance appraisal, he explains the assumptions behind these beliefs. The following are just a few assumptions he feels are the reasons companies are in support of the traditional performance appraisal: (p. 295) ""I Evaluation will improve an employees performance""I The employee being evaluated has control over the results""I The standards are reasonable and achievable""I All evaluators are consistent with each other""I Each evaluators is consistent from one employee to the nextScholtes believes these reasons, to sum it up, are just a bunch of hooey.
He believes that the traditional performance appraisal is based on myth and he offers an alternative to the traditional appraisal called! SSDebundling. !" He defines de bundling as! S Staking apart all of the various separate services or perceived benefits that one assumes performance appraisal offers an organization!" (P. 326). In his book, he takes us through a series of guidelines for! SSdebundling the services of the performance appraisal. !" (p. 328).
Because of the in depth review he gives to the process and for the sake of this paper, I will only cover a few of these services to give an understanding of his ideas. Identifying Career Goals (p. 339) Myth! V (1) It is seldom necessary for a supervisor to get involved in helping employees sort out their careers and (2) career counseling and career development are specialized services in which most supervisors have neither the time nor the ability to provide these services. Guideline! V Managers and supervisors can provide moral support, at a personal level, for an employee! |s career ambitions. But what employees need are systems of (A) career counseling, (B) career ladders, and (C) education assistance Fostering Communication between Employees and Their Supervisors (p. 350) Myth! V You don! |t need performance appraisal to communicate.
In fact, performance appraisals are ordinarily so stilted and anxiety-ridden that they are the worst possible situation for communication Guideline! V Two major obstacles to communication are attitude and style. Managers need to learn to make nonjudgmental observations or ask neutral questions. When managers blame, attack, or patronize, they guarantee that communication won! |t take place. Managers need to learn active listening skills and to teach others how to listen.
Motivating Employees (p. 353) Myth! V (1) It is a management conceit to believe that one can motivate others. Managers can demotivate, but not motivate, and (2) People start out motivated. It is legitimate to discover what happened to that original intrinsic motivation Guideline! V If employees are unmotivated, investigate what happened or is happening to demotivate themScholtes believes that performance appraisals are wrong and that it hurts the people involved. In the long run it! SS provides no demonstrable benefit to the organization or its customers!" (p. 360).
He believes that by debunking the beliefs and offering alternative guidelines, companies can effectively move away from the traditional performance appraisal and move into a more humane process. Conclusion While each of these has its own combination of strengths and weaknesses, none is able to achieve all of the purposes in which management institutes performance appraisal systems. The traditional performance appraisal while it has many strengths and weaknesses, I believe with a little tweaking, such as combining a more developmental approach and moving more away from the traditional rating system, it has the potential to become an effective tool. In my position in customer service, I spend a great deal of time interacting with internal and external customers. I believe that possibly utilizing, a combination of the traditional and the 3600 peer review would give a better insight to my performance and help my supervisor develop further training for myself and our department. I do believe however, that the 3600 peer review process would not be effective for all positions within an organization and could be damaging to a person if not handled properly.
Although Scholtes offers an insightful alternative to the review process, I do not believe this is a theory many organizations or employees will embrace. I do believe however, that his theories will offer alternatives and allow supervisors to gain a better understanding into the human psyche, which would allow them the opportunity to manage more effectively. References Grote, D. (2002).
The performance appraisal question and answer book: A survival guide for Managers. New York: AMACOMPeiperl, M. A. (2005).
Getting 360-degree feedback right. Harvard Business Review on Appraising Employee Performance. (pigs. 69-83). Boston: Harvard Business School PublishingScholtes, P. R.
(1998). The Leaders Handbook: A guide to inspiring your people and managing the daily workflow. (pigs. 293-360). New York: McGraw-Hill.