Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Impact of Behavioral Traits on Performance Appraisal

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Impact of Behavioral Traits on Performance Appraisal

Article excerpt

An introspective look at the accomplishment and failure of Performance Appraisal Systems in the work environment during the past two decades brings us back to the reality that the ultimate success of any strategic program, whether it be performance planning or performance appraisal, is determined by how well the nuts and bolts are being assembled and used.

Public sector organizations have realized that the quick response needed to capitalize on innovative opportunities depends on the close interaction of all departments and the willingness of employees, managers and subordinates to think creatively on their own as well as in groups. Organizational charts and the reporting relationships they symbolize seldom reveal how positions must work together to fuse performance accountabilities. It has long been established through practice that off-the-shelf approaches to cultivate effective interactions between team members are no substitutes for a quality performance appraisal system and accompanying training.

To this end, any performance system needs to take into consideration the significant impact of the "relationship dynamics" of coaching and feedback. This study examines the behavioral characteristics of the individual team members, both managers and subordinates, and the impact behavioral traits have on the success of a carefully designed performance appraisal system. In addition, training and process suggestions are offered to offset the impact they have on the appraisal outcome.

Performance Ratings and Human Behavior

Evaluation of employee performance, which may be objectively or subjectively/perceptually based(1), is many times perceived as a necessary evil in today's public sector organizations. Functions of performance appraisal typically include providing: (a) employees with feedback on their performance; (b) sufficient performance-based means for salary administration; and (c) management with criteria to direct occupational coaching for growth and promotion.(2) Thus, performance evaluations can be viewed as, "an ongoing process of identifying, measuring, and developing human performance...(allowing managers to)...pinpoint training needs, validate rewards, and identify promotable employees."(3)

Table 1: The Scoring Table

Scale           Definition

Blank           Not Observed or Not Applicable

1               Unsatisfactory: Considering the time you have been
                on the job, your performance is below the minimum

2               Below Expectations: You are doing the job reasonably
                well in most areas, but need improvement in a major
                area or two. You require closer supervision than is
                dictated by the job.

3               Meets Expectations: You are doing a full, complete
                and satisfactory job. Your performance is what is
                expected of a fully qualified and experienced person
                on the job. You are a good, solid worker and are
                capable in all areas of your job.

4               Exceeds Expectations: Your performance exceeds the
                job requirements even on some of the most difficult
                and complex areas of the job. You aggressively
                develop and implement challenging work goals.

5               Clearly Outstanding: Your performance is "best of
                the best," and your accomplishments have made a
                particularly notable contribution to the

Unsatisfactory                                           Outstanding

1                    2             3            4             5

Many times, subordinates and supervisors interpret and symbolically define performance evaluations in very different ways with the former holding more negative connotations. Employees express concern that personalities play an important role in the end result of the evaluation process. …

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