Performance Appraisal Methods: Traditional and Modern Methods
Each method of performance appraisal has its strengths and weaknesses may be suitable for one organization and non-suitable for another one. As such, there is no single appraisal method accepted and used by all organizations to measure their employees’ performance.
- Traditional Methods
(i) Ranking Method
It is the oldest and simplest formal systematic method of performance appraisal in which employee is compared with all others for the purpose of placing order of worth. The employees are ranked from the highest to the lowest or from the best to the worst.
In doing this the employee who is the highest on the characteristic being measured and also the one who is L lowest, are indicated. Then, the next highest and the next lowest between next highest and lowest until all the employees to be rated have been ranked. Thus, if there are ten employees to be appraised, there will be ten ranks from 1 to 10.
(ii) Paired Comparison
In this method, each employee is compared with other employees on one- on one basis, usually based on one trait only. The rater is provided with a bunch of slips each coining pair of names, the rater puts a tick mark against the employee whom he insiders the better of the two. The number of times this employee is compared as better with others determines his or her final ranking.
Where N = the total number of employees to be evaluated.
(iii) Grading Method
In this method, certain categories of worth are established in advance and carefully defined. There can be three categories established for employees: outstanding, satisfactory and unsatisfactory. There can be more than three grades. Employee performance is compared with grade definitions. The employee is, then, allocated to the grade that best describes his or her performance.
Such type of grading is done is Semester pattern of examinations and in the selection of a candidate in the public service sector. One of the major drawbacks of this method is that the rater may rate most of the employees on the higher side of their performance.
(iv) Forced Distribution Method
This method was evolved by Tiffen to eliminate the central tendency of rating most of the employees at a higher end of the scale. The method assumes that employees’ performance level confirms to a normal statistical distribution i.e., 10,20,40,20 and 10 per cent. This is useful for rating a large number of employees’ job performance and promo ability. It tends to eliminate or reduce bias.
It is also highly simple to understand and easy to apply in appraising the performance of employees in organizations. It suffer from the drawback that improve similarly, no single grade would rise in a ratings.
(v) Forced-Choice Method
The forced-choice method is developed by J. P. Guilford. It contains a series of groups of statements, and rater rates how effectively a statement describes each individual being evaluated. Common method of forced-choice method contains two statements, both positive and negative.
(vi) Check-List Method
The basic purpose of utilizing check-list method is to ease the evaluation burden upon the rater. In this method, a series of statements, i.e., questions with their answers in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are prepared by the HR department. The check-list is, then, presented to the rater to tick appropriate answers relevant to the appraisee. Each question carries a weight-age in relationship to their importance.
(vii) Critical Incidents Method
In this method, the rater focuses his or her attention on those key or critical behaviours that make the difference between performing a job in a noteworthy manner (effectively or ineffectively). There are three steps involved in appraising employees using this method.
First, a list of noteworthy (good or bad) on-the-job behaviour of specific incidents is prepared. Second, a group of experts then assigns weightage or score to these incidents, depending upon their degree of desirability to perform a job. Third, finally a check-list indicating incidents that describe workers as “good” or “bad” is constructed. Then, the check-list is given to the rater for evaluating the workers.
(viii) Graphic Rating Scale Method
The graphic rating scale is one of the most popular and simplest techniques for appraising performance. It is also known as linear rating scale. In this method, the printed appraisal form is used to appraise each employee.
The form lists traits (such as quality and reliability) and a range of job performance characteristics (from unsatisfactory to outstanding) for each trait. The rating is done on the basis of points on the continuum. The common practice is to follow five points scale.
(ix) Essay Method
Essay method is the simplest one among various appraisal methods available. In this method, the rater writes a narrative description on an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, past performance, potential and suggestions for improvement. Its positive point is that it is simple in use. It does not require complex formats and extensive/specific training to complete it.
(x) Field Review Method
When there is a reason to suspect rater’s biasedness or his or her rating appears to be quite higher than others, these are neutralised with the help of a review process. The review process is usually conducted by the personnel officer in the HR department.
(xi) Confidential Report
It is the traditional way of appraising employees mainly in the Government Departments. Evaluation is made by the immediate boss or supervisor for giving effect to promotion and transfer. Usually a structured format is devised to collect information on employee’s strength weakness, intelligence, attitude, character, attendance, discipline, etc. report.
- Modern Methods
(i) Management by Objectives (MBO)
Most of the traditional methods of performance appraisal are subject to the antagonistic judgments of the raters. It was to overcome this problem; Peter F. Drucker propounded a new concept, namely, management by objectives (MBO) way back in 1954 in his book.
The Practice of management. The concept of MBO as was conceived by Drucker, can be described as a “process whereby the superior and subordinate managers of an organization jointly identify its common goals, define each individual’s major areas of responsibility in terms of results expected of him and use these measures as guides for operating the unit and assessing the contribution of each its members”.
An MBO programme consists of four main steps: goal setting, performance standard, comparison, and periodic review. In goal-setting, goals are set which each individual, s to attain. The superior and subordinate jointly establish these goals. The goals refer to the desired outcome to be achieved by each individual employee.
In performance standards, the standards are set for the employees as per the previously arranged time period. When the employees start performing their jobs, they come to know what is to be done, what has been done, and what remains to be done.
In the third step the actual level of goals attained are compared with the goals agreed upon. This enables the evaluator to find out the reasons variation between the actual and standard performance of the employees. Such a comparison helps devise training needs for increasing employees’ performance it can also explore the conditions having their bearings on employees’ performance but over which the employees have no control.
Finally, in the periodic review step, corrective measure is initiated when actual performance deviates from the slandered established in the first step-goal-setting stage. Consistent with the MBO philosophy periodic progress reviews are conducted in a constructive rather than punitive manner.
(ii) Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)
The problem of judgmental performance evaluation inherent in the traditional methods of performance evaluation led to some organizations to go for objective evaluation by developing a technique known as “Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)” around 1960s. BARS are descriptions of various degrees of behaviour with regard to a specific performance dimension.
It combines the benefits of narratives, critical incidents, and quantified ratings by anchoring a quantified scale with specific behavioural examples of good or poor performance. The proponents of BARS claim that it offers better and more equitable appraisals than do the other techniques of performance appraisal we discussed so far.
(iii) Assessment Centres
The introduction of the concept of assessment centres as a method of performance method is traced back in 1930s in the Germany used to appraise its army officers. The concept gradually spread to the US and the UK in 1940s and to the Britain in 1960s.
The concept, then, traversed from the army to business arena during 1960s. The concept of assessment centre is, of course, of a recent origin in India. In India, Crompton Greaves, Eicher, Hindustan Lever and Modi Xerox have adopted this technique of performance evaluation.
In business field, assessment centres are mainly used for evaluating executive or supervisory potential. By definition, an assessment centre is a central location where managers come together to participate in well-designed simulated exercises. They are assessed by senior managers supplemented by the psychologists and the HR specialists for 2-3 days.
Assessee is asked to participate in in-basket exercises, work groups, simulations, and role playing which are essential for successful performance of actual job. Having recorded the assessee’s behaviour the raters meet to discuss their pooled information and observations and, based on it, they give their assessment about the assesee. At the end of the process, feedback in terms of strengths and weaknesses is also provided to the assesees.
(iv) 360 – Degree Appraisal
Yet another method used to appraise the employee’s performance is 360 – degree appraisal. This method was first developed and formally used by General Electric Company of USA in 1992. Then, it travelled to other countries including India. In India, companies like Reliance Industries, Wipro Corporation, Infosys Technologies, Thermax, Thomas Cook etc., have been using this method for appraising the performance of their employees. This feedback based method is generally used for ascertaining training and development requirements, rather than for pay increases.
Under 360 – degree appraisal, performance information such as employee’s skills, abilities and behaviours, is collected “all around” an employee, i.e., from his/her supervisors, subordinates, peers and even customers and clients.
In other worlds, in 360-degree feedback appraisal system, an employee is appraised by his supervisor, subordinates, peers, and customers with whom he interacts in the course of his job performance. All these appraisers provide information or feedback on an employee by completing survey questionnaires designed for this purpose.
(v) Cost Accounting Method
This method evaluates an employee’s performance from the monetary benefits the employee yields to his/her organization. This is ascertained by establishing a relationship between the costs involved in retaining the employee, and the benefits an organization derives from Him/her.