Should we compare people with one another or against a set or standard?

The methods identified previously have one thing in common. They require us to evaluate employees on the basis of how well their performance matches established or absolute criteria. Multi-person comparisons, on the other hand, compare one person’s performance with that of one or more individuals. Thus, they are relative, not absolute, measuring devices. The three most popular forms of this method are group order ranking, individual ranking and paired comparison.

The group order ranking requires the evaluator to place employees into a particular classification such as top fifth or second fifth. If a rater has 20 employees, only four can be in the top fifth, and, of course four must be relegated to the bottom fifth. The individual ranking approach requires the evaluator merely to list the employees in order from highest to lowest. Only one can be best. In an appraisal of 30 employees, the difference between the first and second employee is assumed to be the same as that between the twenty first and twenty second. Even though some employees may be closely grouped, no ties are allowed. In the paired comparison approach, each employee is compared with every other employee in the comparison group and rated as either the superior or weaker member in the comparison group and rated as either the superior or weaker member of the pair. After all paired comparisons are made each employee is assigned a summary ranking based on the number of superior scores he or she achieved. Although this approach ensures that each employee is compared against every other one, it can become unwieldy when large numbers of employees are being assessed.

Isn’t MBO an appraisal approach too? MBO is also a mechanism for appraising performance.

Employees are evaluated by how well they accomplish a specific set of objectives that have been determined to be critical in the successful completion of their jobs. These objectives need to tangible, verifiable, and measurable. MBO’s popularity among managerial personnel is probably due to its focus on end goals. Managers end to emphasize such results oriented outcomes as profit, sales, and cost. This emphasis meshes with MBO’s concern quantitative measures of performance. Because MBO emphasizes ends rather than means this appraisal method allow managers to choose the best path for achieving their goals.

What happens when performance falls short?

Discipline: Actions taken by a manager to enforce an organization’s standards and regulations.

But what if an employee is not performing in a satisfactory manner? What can you do?

If, for some reason an employee is not meeting his or her performance goals, a manager needs to find out why. If it is because the employee is mismatched for the job (a hiring error) or because he or she dos not have adequate training, something relatively simple can be done; the manager can either reassign the individual to a job that better matches his or her skills or train the employees to do the job effectively. If the problem is associated not with the employee’s abilities but with his or her desire to do the job it becomes a discipline problem. In that case, a manager can try counseling and if necessary can take disciplinary action such as verbal and written warnings, suspensions, and even terminations.

Employee counseling: A process designed to help employers overcome performance related problems.

Rather than viewing the performance problem from a punitive standpoint (discipline) employee counseling attempts to uncover why employees have lost their desire or ability to work productively. More important, it is designed to find ways to fix the problem In many cases, employees don’t go from being productive one day to being unproductive the next. Rather, the change happens gradually and may be a function of what is occurring in their personal lives. Employee counseling attempts to assist employees in getting help to resolve whatever is bothering them.

The premise behind employee counseling is fairly simple: It is beneficial to both the organization and the employee. Just as it is costly to have a worker quit shortly after being hired, it is costly to fire someone. The time spent, recruiting and selecting, orienting, training and developing employees translates into money. If, however, an organization can help employees overcome personal problems and get them back on the job quickly. It can avoid these costs. But make no mistake about it, employee counseling is not intended to lessen the effect of an employee’s post or an employee’s poor performance, nor is it intended to reduce his or her responsibility to change inappropriate work behavior. If the employee can’t or won’t accept help, then disciplinary actions must be taken.