Methods of Performance Evaluation

Now we ask: How do we evaluate an employee’s performance? That is, what are the specific techniques for evaluation?

Written Essays: Probably the simplest method of evaluation is to write a narrative describing an employee’s strengths weaknesses, past performance, potential and suggestions for improvement. The written essay requires no complex forms or extensive training to complete. But this method a good or bad appraisal may be determined as much by the evaluator’s writing skill as by the employee’s actual level of performance.

Critical Incidents: Critical incidents focus the evaluator’s attention on the behavior that is key in making the difference between executing a job effectively and executing it ineffectively. That is, the appraiser writes down anecdotes that describe what the employee did that was especially effective or ineffective. The key here is to cite only specific behaviors not vaguely defined personality traits. A list of critical incidents provides a rich set of examples from which the employee can be shown the behaviors that are desirable and those that call for improvement.

Graphic Rating Scales: One of the oldest and most popular methods of evaluation is the use of graphic rating scales. In this method a set of performance factors such as quantity and quality of work, depth of knowledge cooperation, attendance, and initiative is listed. The evaluator then goes down the list and rates each on incremental scales. The scales may specify five points, so a factor such as job knowledge might be rated 1 (poorly informed about work duties) to 5 (has complete mastery of all phases of the job). Although they don’t provide the depth of information that essays or critical incidents do, graphic rating scales are less time consuming to develop and administer. They also allow for quantitative comparison.

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales: Behavioral anchored rating scales (BARS) combine major elements from the critical incident and graphic rating scale approaches: The appraiser rates the employee based on items along a continuum, but the points are examples of actual behavior on the given job rather that general descriptions or traits. Examples of job related behavior and performance dimensions are found by asking participants to give specific illustrations of effective and ineffective behavior regarding each performance dimension. These behavioral examples are then translated into a set of performance dimensions each dimension having varying levels of performance.

Forced Comparisons:

Forced comparisons evaluate one individual’s performance against the performance of another or others. It is a relative rather than an absolute measuring device. The two most popular comparisons are group order raking and individual ranking.

The group order ranking requires the evaluator to place employees into a particular classification such as top one-fifth or second one–fifth. This method is often used in recommending students to graduate schools. Evaluators are asked whether the student ranks in the top 5 percent of the class the next 5 percent, the next 15 percent, and so forth. But in this type of performance appraisal, managers deal with all their subordinates. Therefore if a rater has 20 employees, only 4 can be in the top fifth and, of course, 4 must also be relegated to the bottom fifth. The individual ranking approach rank orders employees from best to worst. If the manager is required to appraise 30 employees, this approach assumes that the difference between the first and second employee is the same as that between the twenty first and twenty second. Even though some of the employees may be closely grouped, no ties are permitted. The result is a clear ordering of employees, from the highest performer down to the lowest.