Introduction Performance appraisal is defined by Mathias, Jackson (2005, p106) as ‘the process of evaluating how well employees perform their jobs as compared to a set of standards, and then communicating that information to those employees. ’ This evaluation or review is usually carried out periodically. A performance appraisal usually forms an integral part of an organization’s Performance Management System, and although there are criticisms against performance appraisals, its many advantages heavily outweigh their shortcomings.
To understand difficulties faced by supervisors, it is necessary to first understand why supervisors want to carry out appraisals. The reasons mentioned by C. H. Tan, Torrington (2004, p228) are as follows: 1. Efficient human resource management. To ensure that each individual’s ability is effectively used in the organization, without talents being ignored. 2. Training. To identity training needs for the development of individuals. 3. Promotion. To assist promotion decisions 4. Planning for succession needs and identifying skill shortages . Authority. To sustain the hierarchy of authority. Because of the above reasons, many organizations carry out performance appraisals at least once a year. A few companies even carry out their appraisals quarterly or monthly. Performance appraisals, if done unfairly or is not objective, leads to poor working relationships between the appraisal and the appraisee, and demotivates the staff who are working hard and confuses those on who are unsure of their job scope and their career development in the organization. Problems in appraisal
A major problem facing appraisers when conducting their performance appraisals is having poor judgment on their part. There are seven main factors that lead to such poor judgment. It is assumed that the appraiser wishes to conduct performance appraisals fairly and objectively to meet the abovementioned reasons. 1. One of the factors is the appraiser giving an unfair appraisal due to a pre-existing prejudice of the appraisee. This can also work in the opposite way; which is the appraiser withholding judgment because of a fear of being prejudiced, or of being seen by others as prejudiced. . The appraiser may judge the appraisee without understanding his or her job scope clearly. This could be because the appraiser may be positioned to high in the management hierarchy, leading to little contact with the ground level of the appraisee. Or, it could be due to the appraiser being placed in a management role of a certain department that he or she has no work experience with. 3. An appraiser may also appraise their staff based on how much he or she likes the person, rather than on the person’s performance.
When an appraiser rates an employee highly because of general likeability, it is called as ‘halo effect’. When the opposite occurs, that is, if the appraiser rates an employee poorly because of general dislikeability, it is called the ‘horns effect’. 4. Also the appraiser may judge the appraisee based on recent events that are easy to recall, while performances that happened a longer time ago being forgotten. This is termed as ‘recency effect’. 5. An appraiser may apply different standards and expectations when appraising their staffs that are performing similar jobs.
For example, the appraiser may compare two people who are having the same job scope, but one staff having more than three years of experience, while the other may have only a year of experience. This mistake is more pronounced when the appraiser commits a contrast error, which is defined as ‘error caused by the effect of previously interviewed or appraised applicants on the interviewer. It results in a conscious or subconscious comparison of one applicant with another, and tends to exaggerate the differences between the two. (Cited www. businessdictionary. com, 26 June 2008) 6. An appraiser may also commit central tendency errors, leniency, and strictness errors. Central errors occur when all the staff are rated in a narrow range, and are given an average rating. Leniency errors happens when the appraiser tends to only rate on the higher end of the grade, while strictness errors occurs when the appraiser tends to rate more strictly, and rate the appraisees at the lower end of the scale.
This would cause unfairness in an organization with many appraisers, and each appraiser having to appraise separate groups of staff under them. 7. Lastly, appraisees may be doing similar jobs, but may be doing it at different times, and at different situations, and appraisers may not be able to judge them fairly. Another difficulty faced by appraisers includes the large amount of administrative paperwork required before and after the appraisal is carried out. This may lead to appraisers feeling very demoralized, and may hinder them from carrying out a proper and fair appraisal.
Also, an appraisal is often seen as a serious and formal affair, and could lead to uneasiness between the appraiser and their staff. This could result in a strained working relationship. This is more evident if the staff has greater working experience in the organization, but is of a lower rank. This may not cause a problem during the initial work appraisals, but could surface in subsequent work appraisals. Performance appraisals may also be seen only as a formality, and the issues discussed and planning made may not be actually carried out by either the ppraiser or appraisee, or even both. Both parties may lose confidence in the appraisal process, view it as unimportant, and just ‘go through the motion’ of having it done. When this occurs, it leads to an improper appraisal that does not meet its objectives. Also, performance appraisal is usually closely tied to monetary benefits such as annual increments or performance bonuses. This may result in inaccuracies in the appraisal as the appraiser may be reluctant to reduce or increase the earning of their employee due to sentimental or personal reasons.