Thursday, 22 December 2011

09: Performance Appraisal and Career Strategy


Importance of Appraisal

Appraisal is, or should be, an integral part of a system of managing. Appraisal program must be reliable and valid. One way to integrate the organizational demands and individual needs is through career management, which can be a part of performance appraisal.

Choosing the Appraisal Criteria

The appraisal should measure performance in accomplishing goals and plans as well as performance as a manager. No one wants a person in a managerial role who appears to do everything right as manager but who cannot turn in a good record of profit making, marketing, controllership, or whatever the are of responsibility may be.

Performance in Accomplishing Goals

The best criteria of managerial performance relate to the ability to set goals intelligently, to plan programs that will accomplish those goals, and to succeed in achieving them. But this criteria alone is inadequate and that element of luck or other factor beyond the manager’s control are taken into account. Thus appraisal against verifiable objectives is, by itself, insufficient.

Performance as Manager

The system of measuring performance against per-established objectives should be supplemented by an appraisal of a manager as a manager. Performance of managers should be appraised on the basis of how well they understand and undertake the managerial functions of planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling.

Appraising Managers against Verifiable Objectives

One widely used approach to managerial appraisal is the system of evaluating managerial performance against the setting and accomplishing of verifiable objectives. This is simple logic, since people cannot be expected to accomplish a task with effectiveness or efficiency unless they know what the end points of their efforts should be.

The Appraisal Process

Once a program of managing by verifiable objectives is in operation, appraisal is a fairly easy step. Supervisors determine how well managers set objectives and how well they have performed against them. There are questions like: were the goals adequate? Did they call for “stretched” (high but reasonable) performance? These questions can be answered only through the judgment and experience of person’s superior.

Three Kinds of Reviews

Simplified model of performance appraisal indicates three kinds of appraisals: a comprehensive review, progress or periodic reviews, and continuous monitoring.
Formal comprehensive appraisal should be conducted at least once in a year, but some people suggest that should take place more frequently or performance should be reviewed, for example, after the completion of a major project. Formal Comprehensive reviews are supplemented by frequent progress or periodic reviews. These reviews can be short and relatively informal, but they help identify problems or barriers that hinder an effective performance. Furthermore, priorities can be rearranged and objectives can be renegotiated if warranted by changed situation. Finally there is a continuous monitoring of performance. With this system, when performance deviates from plans, one does not have to wait for the next periodic review to correct it. The superior and the subordinate discuss the situation immediately so that corrective actions can be taken at once in order to prevent a small deviation from developing into major problem.

1. Inputs: Setting verifiable objectives that become standard

2. Actual Performance

3. Outputs: Measuring performance against standards (Formal Comprehensive Review, Progress or Periodic Review, Continuous Monitoring)

4. Corrective Action for undesirable deviation from standards

Strength of Appraisals against Verifiable Objectives

Strengths of appraising against accomplishment of objectives are almost the same as those of managing by objectives. Both are basic to effective managing and both are means of improving the quality of managing. Appraising on the basis of performance against verifiable objectives has the great advantage of being operational. Appraisals are not apart from the job that managers do but are a review of what they actually did as managers. But information about what a person has done, measured against what that individual agreed was a reasonable target, is available. This information furnishes strong presumption of objectivity and reduces the element of pure judgment in the appraisal. Beside, the appraisal can be carried on in an atmosphere in which superiors work cooperatively with subordinates rather than sitting in judgment of them.

Weaknesses of Appraisal against Verifiable Objectives

Weaknesses of appraising against accomplishment of objectives are too almost the same as those of managing by objectives. 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. There may be an overemphasis on output quantity and not enough attention may be given to the quality of the product or services. It is difficult to assess uncontrollable or unexpected factors in appraising. For example, how can anyone be sure how much was due to luck and how much to competence? This appraisal system may overlook needs for individual development. It appraises the operating performance only. Not only is there the question of luck, but also there are other factors to apprise, notable 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.

Appraising Mangers as Manager: A Suggested Program

It is not enough to appraise a manager broadly, evaluating only performance of the basic functions of the manager; appraisal should go further. The best approach is to utilize the basic techniques and principles of management as standards. These standards give the evaluator some benchmarks for measuring how well the subordinates understand and are following the functions of managing.

Thus this program involves classifying the functions of the manager and then dealing with each function by a series of questions. The questions are designed to reflect the most important fundamentals of managing in each area.

Sample Questions for Appraising Mangers as Mangers

Planning

1. Does the manager, set for the department, both short-term and long-term goals in verifiable terms?
2. In choosing from amongst the alternatives, does the manager recognize and give primary attention to those factors that are limiting or critical to the solution of a problem?
3. Does the manager check plans periodically to see whether they are consistent with current expectations?

Organizing

1. Does the manger delegate authority to subordinates on the basis of results expected of them?
2. Does the manager refrain from making decisions in that area once authority has been delegated to subordinate?
3. Does the manager regularly teach subordinates, or otherwise make sure that they understand the nature of line and staff relationships?

Staffing, Leading, and controlling

1. in the three other areas of managing – staffing, leading, and controlling – evaluators ask similar questions.

Advantage or the Program

This method of evolutions gives operational meaning to what management really is. Also the use of a standard reference text for an interpretation of concepts and terms removes many of the semantic and communication difficulties so commonly encountered. Such things as variable budgets, verifiable objectives, staff, functional authority, and delegation take on consistent meaning. The system, furthermore, has proved to be a tool for management development; in many cases, it has brought to the managers’ attention certain basics that they may have long disregarded or not understood.

Weaknesses of the Program

It applies only to managerial aspects of a given position and not to such technical qualifications as marketing or engineering abilities that might also be important. Major shortcoming in appraising the managers as managers is the subjectivity involved. However, the program still has a high degree of objectivity and is far more objective than the appraisal of managers only on the broader areas of the managerial functions.

A Team Evaluation Approach

The criteria selected for evaluation are, in part, similar to the once mentioned above and include planning, decision making, organizing, coordinating, staffing, motivating and controlling. This approach has been used not only for appraisal but also for the selection of people for promotion. Advantage of this approach includes a rather high degree of accuracy in appraising people by obtaining several inputs rather than inputs from the superior only.

Rewards and Stress of Managing

The concern here is with some of the general and financial rewards, as well as the stressful aspects, of managing.

Rewards of Managing: General Aspects

Rewards include opportunity, power and income. Opportunity refers progressive career that provide depth and breadth of managerial experience. Managers want power to make a significant contribution to the aims of an enterprise and even to society. In addition, managers want to be, and should be, rewarded for their contributions, although the size of the financial rewards has been criticized.

Pay for Performance

There is probably no other item as controversial as the relationship between appraisals of performance and pay. Such an approach requires that the goals are clear and people know what is expected of them. Also, it must be explained to employees what the total compensation is, including fringe benefits. The reward should be timely. This means that the reward should be given shortly after the work well done. An increase in salary can hardly ever be reversed. A bonus, on the other hand, can be made contingent on outstanding performance. Cultural differences should be taken into account when using the variable compensation.

Stress in Managing

Stress is an adaptive response, mediated by individual differences and/or psychological process, that is, a consequences of any external (environmental) action, situation or event that places excessive psychological and/or physical demand on a person. Physical sources or stress are work overload, irregular work hours, loss of sleep, loud noises, and bright/insufficient lights. Psychological sources include, boring job, inability to socialize, lack of autonomy, responsibility for results without sufficient authority, unrealistic objectives, role conflict or dual-career marriage. Stress can have various effects on the individual as well as on the organization. Physiological effects that may be linked to variety illnesses e.g. burnout or boredom, drug and alcohol abuse, accidents etc. Clearly not only does the individual suffer, but the organization may also be affected by the turnover or impaired decision making of its managers and non-mangers alike. Stress may be reduced thru better management of their time, healthful nutrition, exercise, career planning, a change in a job etc.

Formulating the Career Strategy

The appraisal of performance should identify the strength and weaknesses of an individual. This identification can be starting point for a career plan. The personal strategy should be designed to utilize strength and overcome weakness in order to take advantage of career opportunities.

Preparation of Personal Profile

One of the most difficult tasks is gaining insight into oneself, yet this is an essential first step in developing a career strategy.

Development of Long-Range Personal and Professional Goals

People often resist career planning because it involves making decision. By choosing one goal, person gives up opportunities to pursue others; if an individual studied to become a lawyer, she or he cannot become a doctor at the same time. Mangers also resist goal setting because uncertainties in the environment cause concern about making commitments. Furthermore, there is the fear of failing to achieve goals, because the non-achievement of objectives is a blow to one’s ego.
First, when the setting of performance goals become a part of the appraisal process, identifying career goals is easier. Besides, one does not set career goals all at once. Rather goal setting is a continuous process that allows flexibilities. Another factor that that reduces resistance to goal setting is the integration of long-term aims with the more immediate requirement for action. It states that planning should cover a period of time necessary for the fulfillment of commitments involved in the decision made today. At any rate, the long-term aim has to be translated into short term objectives. Before this is done, it is necessary to make careful assessment of the external environment, including its threats and opportunities.

Analysis of the environment: Threats and Opportunities

In the analysis of the environment inside and outside the organization, many diverse factors need to be taken into account. They include economic, social, political, technological, and demographic factors. They also include labor market, competition etc. At any rate, successful career planning requires a systematic scanning of the environment for opportunities and threats. One has to be concerned not only about the present but also about the future environment which requires forecasting.

Analysis of Personal Strengths and Weaknesses

For successful career planning, the environmental opportunities and treats must be matched with the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. Capabilities may be categorized as technical, human, conceptual or design. Conceptual skills are crucial for top managers and human skills are important at all levels.

Development of Strategic Career Alternatives

The most successful strategy would be to build on one’s strengths to take advantage of opportunities. For example, if a person has an excellent knowledge of computers and many companies are looking for computer programmers, he or she should find many opportunities for a satisfying career. The proper approach would be a developmental strategy to overcome the weakness and developing the skills in order to take advantage of the opportunities.

Consistency Testing and Strategic Choices

Rational and systematic analysis is just one step in the career-planning process, for a choice also involves personal preferences, personal ambitions, and personal values.

Development of Short-Range Career Objectives and Action Plans

Career strategy has to be supported by short-term objectives and action plans which can be a part of the performance appraisal process. E.g. to complete the course fundamentals of Management by May 30 with grade A. It is obvious that the long-term strategic career plan needs to be supported by short-term objectives of action plans.

Development of Contingency Plans

Career plans are developed in environment of uncertainty and the future cannot be predicted with great accuracy. Therefore, contingency plans, based on alternatives assumptions should be prepared.

Implementation of the Career Plan

Career planning may start during the performance appraisal. Career goals and personal ambitions can be considered in selecting and promoting and designing training and development programs.

Monitoring Progress

Monitoring is the process of evaluation progress towards career goals and making necessary correction in the aims or plans. This is the time not only to review performance against objectives in the operation areas but also to review the achievement of millstones in the career plan.

Strategy for Dual-Career Couples

If both partners have successful careers, the opportunity for a promotion that requires relocation is particularly painful decision. Since dual-career couples are quite common, an effective career strategy must include consideration for the spouse’s career.

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