What is one way a local organization might determine how to evaluate the performance of their employees? Critique this performance appraisal system.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the several types of employee performance systems all share strenuous effort toward objectivity, free of bias, that is "(1) pragmatic, (2) relevant, and (3) uniform" (eNotes), different systems are more or less in-depth and more or less contributory. Three often used systems are (a) a rating scale wherein employees are rated by quality of performance; (b) a management by objective (MBO) agreement wherein management and employee agree upon specific measurable goals and a timeframe for completion; (3) a 360-degree feedback method wherein evaluation, comment, appraisal is collected from all in the company or department with whom the employee interacts (KJ Henderson of Demand Media on HoustonChronicle.com).

Since the 360-degree feedback method is all-encompassing and very time-consuming for many people, and since the MBO objective setting agreement requires agreement and (generally) one- to two-year goals, we'll consider an application and critique of a rating scale approach. In this approach, the employee is interviewed by a supervisor or manager who asks a barrage of questions, hoping for candid and honest answers, about things from job requirement performance to skill types and knowledge quality to responsibilities and future goals (Edward Lawler, Forbes). Each response and performance category is rated or graded. If the employee's grade is low and therefore unacceptable, various tactics may be followed, including termination of services. Yet the most common one is a performance improvement plan.

This approach has the advantage of contributing transparency and clarity to employment requirements and expectations while elucidating employee strengths and weaknesses, which, it is suggested, contributes to employee effectiveness, happiness and company profitability. This approach has the disadvantage of focusing detailed attention on what the individual employee does right and well as well as does wrong and poorly, which can be unnerving and therefore actually counterproductive to the intended purpose of advancement and improvement.

Two other methods are also commonly used. One is a ranking method wherein employees are compared to and ranked against each other instead of against the company's mission and objectives; this is very competitive and can ignite rancour. The other is a combination self-evaluation and manager evaluation wherein the aim is discourse and understanding that can be directed toward future performance objectives and goals; this is often a more equitable and dignified approach (Ruth Mayhew of Demand Media on HoustonChronicle.com).