Is Your Performance Evaluation Fair for All? Learn More about Comparative Methods and a Sample Tool for Examining Performance Evaluation Fairness in the United States and France. (Human Resources Management)

By Fodchuk, Katy Mohler | The Public Manager, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Is Your Performance Evaluation Fair for All? Learn More about Comparative Methods and a Sample Tool for Examining Performance Evaluation Fairness in the United States and France. (Human Resources Management)


Fodchuk, Katy Mohler, The Public Manager


In March of this year, the National Academy of Public Administration's Center for Human Resources Management invited consortium members to take part in an international research effort. The project questionnaire drew information from French and American employees concerning characteristics of performance evaluations and perceptions of fairness for those evaluations. As most managers are sure to know, compensation and performance evaluations are both sensitive subjects for employees, even for a relatively non-diverse workforce. When a company has a diverse population of employees, it becomes even more important for managers to understand culturally sensitive ways to create and implement procedures for evaluating and allocating resources to employees.

United States and France

The current study analyzed the differences concerning the types of methods used to evaluate employees in the United States and France and, in addition, investigated French and American employees' perceptions of whether they think these procedures are fair, known in industrial/ organizational psychology as "procedural justice perceptions." Findings showed interesting similarities and differences concerning the types of evaluations used and emphasis on different aspects of fairness for each country. While the scope of this article cannot cover the results of the study, readers are invited to peruse the survey findings at the Web address listed at the end of the article.

This article presents an adaptation of the survey for readers to survey their own employees. It can be used to discover the extent to which existing performance evaluation procedures incorporate fairness and to identify what aspects are most important to a particular workforce. In addition, the article offers suggested methods for incorporating fairness in a performance evaluation.

What Is Fair?

Before discussing the survey, it is important to first identify how fairness perceptions were measured. In a study which specifically examined employee perceptions of fairness in performance appraisals, Greenberg (1986) questioned a group of managers concerning circumstances in which they received an especially fair or unfair performance appraisal and requested they report precisely what made it so fair or unfair. After Greenberg analyzed the survey results, two factors that accounted for most of the variance were apparent. The first, the procedural justice factor, showed significant emphasis on the following five variables:

* soliciting input prior to evaluation and using it;

* two-way communication during the interview;

* ability to challenge/rebut evaluations;

* rater familiarity with ratee's work; and

* consistent application of standards.

The second factor that fell under the category of distributive justice also became apparent, with significant emphasis on the following two variables: receipt of rating based on performance achieved; and recommendation of salary/promotion based on rating. This second category of distributive justice concerns whether or not resources (pay, benefits, bonuses, etc.) are perceived as fairly distributed, while the first category of procedural justice concerns whether the procedures used to determine those allocations are fair. For example, if an employee receives a smaller raise than her coworker she may perceive that the distribution of resources was unfair resulting in lower distributive justice perceptions. In addition, suppose the employee feels that the evaluation procedure was inconsistent and did not accurately measure performance. This would result in low procedural justice perceptions.

Why Be Concerned with Procedural Justice?

This article specifically focuses on procedural justice perceptions. One reason procedural justice is often the focus of research is that it is pliable and tangible as procedures can be adapted and altered to fit the needs of employers who can attempt to produce changes in ineffective existing practices. …

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