Work and Organizational Psychology: An Introduction with Attitude

By Christine E. Doyle | Go to book overview
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Getting the best from the best: Appraisal and career development

Good: Can jump over tall buildings Poor: Trips over own feet in a single leap…

Can hit a target 100 miles away… Shoots self in foot Spoof appraisal scheme

The idea of career is central…for the very reason that it is the only idea which can cope with the changes that assail us at the end of the twentieth century.

Herriot (1992)

Most medium to large organizations used to go through an annual appraisal ritual, which was rarely popular with anyone. A pile of appraisal forms would land on the desks of managers and supervisors, who then had to rate the work performance of their staff. Most managers disliked doing this. Although it is easy to rate the best and the poorest workers, distinguishing between the majority who are neither outstanding nor incompetent is both difficult and open to all manner of bias and inaccuracy. Often managers would have only limited knowledge of the workers and the tasks they performed. If they returned a poor report, they then had to live with the consequences of resentful staff; a good report might mean competition for the manager's own job or key people being promoted out of the department.

From the point of view of the person on the receiving end of appraisals, the process could be seen as unfair or traumatic or both. Fletcher (1997a) showed that 80% of the UK organizations in his study were unhappy with the appraisal system currently in use. Employees often regard them as the single most potent violation of procedural justice, especially when pay and promotion decisions might turn on the outcome. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Saal and Knight (1988) paint a picture of people "going through the motions" with everyone getting a reasonably favourable rating amid sighs of relief that it is all over for another year.

This was not a happy state of affairs. Organizations were right to be concerned about the satisfactoriness of staff, but with the advent of globalization and fierce competition this became an obsession with employees' contribution to the "bottom line". In the public sector too, concern with value for


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Work and Organizational Psychology: An Introduction with Attitude


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