An organization needs constantly to take stock of its workforce and to assess its performance in existing jobs for three reasons:
- To improve organizational performance via improving the performance of individual contributors (should be an automatic process in the case of good managers, but (about annually) two key questions should be posed:
- what has been done to improve the performance of a person last year?
- and what can be done to improve his or her performance in the year to come?).
- To identify potential, i.e. to recognize existing talent and to use that to fill vacancies higher in the organization or to transfer individuals into jobs where better use can be made of their abilities or developing skills.
- To provide an equitable method of linking payment to performance where there are no numerical criteria (often this salary performance review takes place about three months later and is kept quite separate from 1. and 2. but is based on the same assessment).
On-the-spot managers and supervisors, not HR staffs, carry out evaluations. The personnel role is usually that of:
- Advising top management of the principles and objectives of an evaluation system and designing it for particular organizations and environments.
- Developing systems appropriately in consultation with managers, supervisors and staff representatives. Securing the involvement and cooperation of appraisers and those to be appraised.
- Assistance in the setting of objective standards of evaluation / assessment, for example:
- Defining targets for achievement;
- Explaining how to quantify and agree objectives;
- Introducing self-assessment;
- Eliminating complexity and duplication.
- Publicizing the purposes of the exercise and explaining to staff how the system will be used.
- Organizing and establishing the necessary training of managers and supervisors who will carry out the actual evaluations/ appraisals. Not only training in principles and procedures but also in the human relations skills necessary. (Lack of confidence in their own ability to handle situations of poor performance is the main weakness of assessors.)
- Monitoring the scheme - ensuring it does not fall into disuse, following up on training/job exchange etc. recommendations, reminding managers of their responsibilities.
Full-scale periodic reviews should be a standard feature of schemes since resistance to evaluation / appraisal schemes is common and the temptation to water down or render schemes ineffectual is ever present (managers resent the time taken if nothing else).
Basically an evaluation / appraisal scheme is a formalization of what is done in a more casual manner anyway (e.g. if there is a vacancy, discussion about internal moves and internal attempts to put square pegs into 'squarer holes' are both the results of casual evaluation). Most managers approve merit payment and that too calls for evaluation. Made a standard routine task, it aids the development of talent, warns the inefficient or uncaring and can be an effective form of motivation.