Concerns with the company’s current evaluation form
Performance evaluation should be done using a number of different indicators and criteria. This company’s performance evaluation is trait-based making the evaluation more subjective than it ought to be.
The performance appraisal method is not based on measurable outcomes. In order to have an effective performance appraisal, the appraiser must use a set of criteria that have measurable results and these results must be what determine the ratings given to the employee being appraised.
The plant manager responsible for appraising the performance of the engineer is not adequately trained. This is exemplified by the fact that he already has a fear that the process will not result in much as the one he conducted the previous year. He does not seem to be in control of the engineer, which is counterproductive for the company.
Commonly used sets of criteria in performance evaluation
A comprehensive performance evaluation should measure the sets of employee behavior that have measurable outcomes. The first important criterion that is especially important in the capacity of an engineer is the job knowledge and skills. This is because the knowledge and skills of the engineer ultimately affect the quality of work being done, the safety of other employees using equipment and the quantity of resources expended.
The second criterion is the quality of the work done. This is closely related to the first but it is unique since it determines the specific resources that have been used and measures it against the products made. It also measures the effectiveness of the teams constituted by engineers and determines whether they are any occurrences that may lead to legal disputes or losses due to existence of safety hazards.
The third is the work habits. This criterion is measured by the results that are realized from the employee. It also encompasses the way that employees relate to each other including specific traits and behaviors. Another tenet of this criterion is the employee’s organization. This details the way that he/she organizes his/her work, his/her work area and tasks that he/she performs. Work habits are closely related to attitude, which is another important criterion.
Attitudes can be grouped into two: attitude towards work and attitudes towards people. Each tenet should be individually assessed and a mean allocated. Some employees may have a good attitude towards work but a bad one towards coworkers and vice versa but this might not indicate that they are bad performers.
Relative value of commonly-used sets of evaluation criteria
The evaluation of an individual’s performance should be geared towards the establishment of better methods of operation. The evaluation criteria above are important since they analyze the performance of employees in the eyes of others that are directly affected by their actions. Once the performance of employees is evaluated, the results can be used to improve areas that are deemed as having shortcomings. This enables the relevant organization to tailor its plans towards addressing identified need gaps. This can be done through custom training programs. Performance evaluations also aid in the drafting of budgets as they help establish benchmarks for resource utilization.
Inclusion of supervisors, peers, and subordinates in evaluations
Supervisors, peers and subordinates are in constant contact with the employee being appraised. This close proximity provides a good background for effective measurement of behaviors, attitudes and the skills of the employee in question. The supervisor gives a basic outline of the perceived traits of job performance since he/she has other employees to supervise. However, peers and subordinates can give accurate ratings since they are in constant contact with targeted employees in intimate groups. Subordinate reviews in particular can be invaluable in giving insights into the effects of the decisions made by manager-level employees. Some employees might be very effective in dealing with their superiors and peers but poor at dealing with subordinates. Each of the specific class of people thus has a unique role to play in providing relevant information regarding the effectiveness of the employee in question.
A number of disadvantages exist due to the inclusion of supervisors, peers and subordinates in the performance evaluation of fellow employees. First, these groups of people may not be close to the employee for a meaningful part of the work experience. In today’s workplace, technology has made it possible for people to operate in virtual teams meaning that an employee and his/her immediate supervisor or subordinates may be cities apart. This means that the information given will be tentative which may be inaccurate. The second problem is that since we are dealing with human beings, they may be prone to biases. This leads to inaccurate evaluations on perceived performance rather than on actual performance. The third problem is that these people may not have the same skills and knowledge as the employee they are evaluating. The case given in this paper exemplifies this where the supervisor is not as knowledgeable as the engineer setting the stage for conflicts and inaccuracies.
Performance evaluation methods
One of the most widely used performance evaluation methods is the graphic rating scale. This is used to rate employee performance along a continuum like: excellent, good, average, poor. The continuum also includes a numerical scale that rates the perceived level of a certain performance tenet. Usually, 1 depicts the lowest level whereas 5 indicates the highest. There are many standardized graphic forms that have been developed and are easily accessible to people. The downside of using graphic rating is that they are very subjective as the difference, for example, of good and excellent may be down to the appraiser’s perception and not actual performance. The Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) is similar to other rating scales and usually assigns a numerical value from low to high. BARS is an improvement to graphic rating as it overcomes the problem of subjectivity by actually having a score based on actual performance rather than relying on words like good or bad. Each level of performance is well described making the appraiser less prone to bias. While graphic ratings can be used for any situation and are widely available, BARS are much more case-specific and require a lot of money and time to prepare depending on the job being evaluated (Abu-Doleh & Weir, 2007). Another method that does not require as much time and cost as the previous two is the ranking method. This simply rates the behavior of employees from best to worst. This method is used in simple and quick decisions like who is the employee of the month, who deserves a raise or who should get laid off. It is also invaluable in letting employees know their standing in comparison to others. The purpose of this is to motivate the employees to perform better.
Errors that impact performance evaluations
Stereotyping is one error, which occurs while evaluating performance as it is based on classifying people in mentally formed groups. The performance of individuals is not considered in its own merit but is considered as being that of a group.
Halo errors are also common and occur when an appraiser generally considers the behavior of an employee as either positive or negative and evaluates all the employee’s qualities with this impression. Therefore, if an employee is adjudged as good, then all of his/her behaviors will be considered good.
Bias is also a common error that occurs due to tendencies based on the appraiser’s personality to favor or disfavor a certain individual’s behavior. Biases are very subjective and cloud evaluator’s judgments making them view employees according to inaccurate perceptions.
Improving performance evaluations
The first technique for improving performance evaluations is to develop accurate measures free from common errors. One way of ensuring this is by hiring competent HR specialists or consultants that are well versed with matters of evaluation.
Another technique is to ensure that the evaluator uses multiple raters for an employee. This technique might be expensive but is guaranteed to give more accurate results that the use of a single rater. It also helps minimize the errors that are common to singular rating scales.
Training evaluators is also important in improving performance evaluations. Evaluations are meant to show the levels of employee performance so that they are maintained or improved. The use of unqualified evaluators may lead to failure in capturing accurate performance leading to missed chances for improvements.
Abu-Doleh, J. & Weir, D. (2007). Dimensions of performance appraisal systems in Jordanian private and public organizations. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(1), 75-84.
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