In part 1 of this article yesterday, we discussed why performance appraisals were necessary, and how critical it was for employers to establish an objective, reliable and credible appraisal system.
Failure to do so encourages the undeserving, forces the real human assets to look elsewhere, breeds a culture of mediocrity and leads to the organisation’s eventual decline.
In thinking about the whole appraisal system, a fundamental question employers need to ask is: Who should do the appraisal?
Here, I wish to detract from some populist opinions on the subject. I refer to the notion that superiors should also be appraised by their subordinates.
Given that the objective of the performance appraisal is to evaluate the investment in human assets, I believe that it is a job for the management, who are ultimately responsible for achieving results for the organisation.
The company invests in rental, wages, interest charges and capital expenditure so that the company can produce profits. It is the management’s job to see that all the expenditure incurred translates into results — profits — for the company.
This can happen only if its human assets give performances that drive up the company’s fortunes. So, to reiterate my position, it is the superior’s job to assess the performance of the subordinate.
It is the company’s task to ensure that the superior’s appraisal is more objective by designing a better appraisal system.
Is there a flawless appraisal system?
Well, there is a whole range of appraisal techniques, and each has its own merits and flaws. But a foolproof appraisal technique is achievable if companies are prepared to do the necessary homework for it.
An effective performance appraisal is more about doing the homework required to devise the technique, and less about the actual appraisal.
If the system is well thought out and well structured, the system will ensure that inaccurate or unfair appraisals do not happen.
Managers need to invest time and tap professional expertise to reflect on the areas listed below in their quest for a really reliable (and even respected) performance appraisal system:
• Develop clearly defined job descriptions for as many positions as possible. This involves a considerable effort in job analysis, task analysis and roles that have to be played.
• Counsel employees at the beginning of the appraisal period. Discuss clearly what competencies will be appraised for that period. This phase is critical to educate employees on the importance of not just technical competencies, but also people competencies.
The reality of today’s workplace is that it is team synergy that raises productivity and profits for the company.
Can businesses afford to have technically superb people who find it impossible to work in sync with other people in the organisation?
• Foster team synergy. Offer team incentives that will sweeten the deal for employees to be supportive of each other rather than compete with each other.
• Replace peer evaluation with peer feedback. This type of feedback can be an input for counselling employees about their performance gaps.
• Equip the appraising managers with counselling skills to perform the appraisal process effectively. This is crucial to make sure that the managers’ personal bias and character qualities are not barriers to impartiality.
In conclusion, it is not hard to develop a reliable performance appraisal system, but it does require committed time and effort. And the results are worth it every time.