Supervision: Overview Evaluating individual work performance is a form of control because it ties performance feedback to rewards and corrective actions. Employee evaluation is an on-going process, taking place informally every day in the organization. One example is computer monitoring, which tracks an employee's performance as it is taking place. Evaluation is formally documented for a given time period in the performance appraisal.
Performance appraisal is a formal, structured system that compares employee performance to established standards. Assessment of job performance is shared with employees being appraised through one of several primary methods of performance appraisals. Elements in performance appraisal methods are tailored to the organization's employees, jobs, and structure. They include objective criteria for measuring employee performance and ratings that summarize how well the employee is doing. Successful appraisal methods have clearly defined and explicitly communicated standards or expectations of employee performance on the job.
Performance Appraisal Methods
Performance appraisals take many forms. Written essays, the simplest essay method, is a written narrative assessing an employee's strengths, weaknesses, past performance, potential, and provides recommendations for improvement. Types of performance appraisal methods include comparative standards (such as, simple ranking, paired comparison, forced distribution) and absolute standards (such as, critical incidents, BARS, MBO).
· Comparative Standards or Multi-person Comparison. This relative, as opposed to absolute method, compares one employee's performance with that of one or more others.- In group rank ordering the supervisor places employees into a particular classification such as "top one-fifth" and "second one-fifth". If a supervisor has ten employees, only two could be in the top fifth, and two must be assigned to the bottom fifth.
- In individual ranking the supervisor lists employees from highest to lowest. The difference between the top two employees is assumed equivalent to the difference between the bottom two employees.
- In paired comparison the supervisor compares each employee with every other employee in the group and rates each as either superior or weaker of the pair. After all comparisons are made, each employee is assigned a summary or ranking based on the number of superior scores received.
· Critical Incidents. The supervisor's attention is focused on specific or critical behaviors that separate effective from ineffective performance.
· Graphic Rating Scale. This method lists a set of performance factors such as job knowledge, work quality, cooperation that the supervisor uses to rate employee performance using an incremental scale.
· Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS). BARS combine elements from critical incident and graphic rating scale approaches. The supervisor rates employees according to items on a numerical scale.
· Management by Objectives. MBO evaluates how well an employee has accomplished objectives determined to be critical in job performance. This method aligns objectives with quantitative performance measures such as sales, profits, zero-defect units produced.
· 360 Degree Feedback. This multi-source feedback method provides a comprehensive perspective of employee performance by utilizing feedback from the full circle of people with whom the employee interacts: supervisors, subordinates and co-workers. It is effective for career coaching and identifying strengths and weaknesses. For examples, see Best Manufacturing Practices Center of Excellence, 360 Degree.
Performance Appraisal Software
Software-aided performance management gives supervisors online Human Resources expertise and real-time tools to help them track and evaluate performance. For example KnowldegePoint's software Performance Appraiser walks supervisors through the evaluation process, taking them past the blank page and turning observations into valuable feedback. The automated performance review system removes many of the barriers that have traditionally undermined the performance review process. In KnowledgePoint's HR Library white paper, Software-Aided Performance Management Supporting Best Practices, a comparison is made of traditional reviews and automated reviews. It has been adapted in the table below.
Typical Pitfalls of Traditional Reviews
Unclear and often legally inappropriate wording. Models clear language for supervisors.
Provides a basis for developing narrative portion of review.
Identifies legally sensitive language.
Poor documentation. Helps supervisors to track and document performance
throughout the review period.
Biased ratings. Provides consistent criteria and a systematic method
of evaluating performance. Discourages rating biases.
Too general. Allows organizations to centrally define performance
criteria and standards, or lets supervisors create review
practices specific to their business objectives.
Doesn't stress feedback between reviews. Encourages supervisors to give regular feedback.
Provides online advice and coaching ideas.
Difficult to track and analyze results. All performance data is available for analysis.
Late, infrequent reviews. Step by step process and just-in-time learning
reduces writing time, removes common barriers
High administrative cost. Reduces time-spent drafting and rewriting reviews,
allowing more time for supervisor-employee interaction.
Reduces training costs.
Frees HR from "policing" the process.
The performance appraisal represents a legal communication to an employee and should be supported by objective reasoning. Appraisal judgments can be objective or subjective. Objective factors are observable and measurable results. They include quantities, errors, and attendance records. Subjective factors are opinions. They are difficult to measure or document and invite bias or charges of bias. Included, as subjective factors, are personality traits, such as dependability, initiative, and perseverance. To remain objective, the supervisor double checks ratings to be sure he or she doesn't favor one employee or make unsupported judgments. Supported judgements have documented critical incidents of employee performance to illustrate ratings.
The halo effect is a rating error that occurs when the rater's knowledge of an employee's performance on one favorable or unfavorable incident colors the ratings on all others. Most employees do some tasks better than others and their ratings should vary from one performance dimension to another. The halo effect can be lessened by rating and comparing all employees' performance on a single factor before going on to another factor.
The equal employment opportunity laws establish and regulate the ways in which performance can be evaluated. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is charged with protecting employee rights. To avoid discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, age, or national origin, the supervisor should base the appraisal on the job that the employee is expected to do.
Objectives of Performance Appraisals
Performance appraisals seek to meet specific objectives. They include tell and sell, tell and listen, problem solving, and mixed model. Tell and sell is evaluative in nature. It is used for purely evaluative purposes. The supervisor coaches by telling the employee the evaluation and then persuading the employee to follow recommendations for improvement. Tell and listen is evaluative in nature. The supervisor coaches by telling the employee the evaluation and then listens to the employee's reactions to the evaluation in a nonjudgmental manner. Problem solving is developmental in nature and involves counseling. It is used for employee development purposes. The supervisor does not offer evaluation but lets the employee decide his or her weak areas and works with the employee to develop an action plan for improvement. The mixed model combines coaching and counseling. It is used for both evaluative and development purposes. The supervisor begins the appraisal with a problem-solving session and concludes with a more directive tell and sell approach.
Agenda for the Performance Appraisal Conference
Prior to the appraisal conference, the subordinate and the supervisor should prepare written evaluations. The supervisor follows the steps in the appraisal conference.
Step 1. Communicate the evaluation. Begin with a quick review of the rating. Ratings should include results of performance, as well as motivation, effort, and cooperation. Give enough attention to what went right. Start with exceeds. Emphasize where, how, and why improvement is needed.
Step 2. Resolve any misunderstandings. Share the discussion with the subordinate. Give the subordinate the opportunity to respond to your appraisal. Listen without interruption. React to subordinate's feedback non-defensively. Use concrete examples to describe performance. Acknowledge that you are receptive to the employee's point of view. Make sure the subordinate understands your complaint before proceeding further.
Step 3. Seek acceptance of the rating. Ask the subordinate, "Can you accept this rating?"
Step 4. Identify areas for improvement. One of the goals of performance appraisal is to provide a means of giving feedback to a subordinate concerning ways to improve job performance. Discuss goals toward which the subordinate might work. Agree on specific targets to meet in the period ahead. Review what you can do to help.
Step 5. Secure commitment to future goals. Try to focus the employee on the future rather than on the past.