Strengths and weakness of appraisal against verifiable objectives

The strengths of appraising against accomplishment of objectives are almost the same as those of managing by objectives. Both are part of the same process, basic to effective managing and are means of improving the quality of managing.

In the area of appraising, there are special and important strengths. Appraising on the basis of performance against verifiable has the great advantage of being operational. Appraisals are not apart from the job that mangers do but are a review of what they actually did as managers.

There are always questions of how well a person did; of whether goals were missed or accomplished, and for what reasons; and of how much in the way of goal attainment should be expected. But information about what a person has done, measured against what that individual agreed was a reasonable target, is available. This information furnishes strong presumptions of objectivity and reduces the element of pure judgment in appraisal. Moreover, the appraisal can be carried on in an atmosphere in which superiors cooperatively work with subordinates rather than sitting in judgment of them.


These apply with equal force to appraisal. One of them is that it is entirely possible for persons to meet or miss goals through no fault of their own. Luck often plays a part in performance. For example, a new product’s acceptance may be far beyond expectations, and its success will make a marketing manager look exceptionally good, even though the quality of the marketing program and its implementation might actually be poor. Or an unpredictable cancellation of a major military contract might make the record of a division manager look unsatisfactory.

Most evaluators will say that they always take uncontrollable or unexpected factors into account in assessing goal performance, and to a very great extent they do. But it is extremely difficult to do so. In an outstanding sales record, for example, how much can anyone be sure how much was due to luck and how much to competence? Outstanding performers are rated highly, at least as long as they perform. Non-performers can hardly escape having a cloud cast over them.

With its emphasis on accomplishing operating objectives, the system of appraising against these may overlook needs for individual development. Goal attainment tends to be short-run in practice. Even if longer-range goals are included, seldom are they so long-range as to allow for adequate long-term development of managers. Managers concerned primarily with results might be driven by the system to take too little time to plan, implement, and follow through with programs required for their development and that of their subordinates.

In the other hand, since managing by objectives better visibility to managerial needs, development programs can be better pinpointed. If individual development is to be ensured, however, goals in this area should be specifically set.

From an appraisal as well as an operating management point of view, perhaps the greatest deficiency of management by objectives is that it appraises operating performance only. Not only is there the question of luck, mentioned previously, but also there are other factors to appraise, notably an individual’s managerial abilities. This is why an adequate appraisal system must appraise performance as a manager as well as performance in setting and meeting goals.

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