Case Analysis: Management and Performance Appraisals
Managers implement performance and management appraisals in order to enhance the work capacity of their employees. Improvement of productivity becomes a key target for administration during appraisal of the staff. In the problem identification chapter, the role of managers in achieving effective evaluation procedure of employees is discussed. Among the measures that one should undertake during the process are adequate interview preparation, establishing the cause and effect linkage between the strengths and weaknesses of their subordinates, and determination of their actions tangible outcomes. These practices in management appraisals performance should be based on established parameters as well as satisfactory communication approaches. Recommendations for improvement of performance appraisal include long-term engagement of subordinates and implementation of measures to support their pursuit of aspiration, encouraging autonomy that subordinates approach, setting clear goals and objectives before the appraisals, and development of a strategic plan to give timely feedback of the appraisals outcomes to employees. The implementation process should be inclusive, ambitious, and well-supported so that the goals of the appraisal are achieved.
Key words: performance appraisal, communication, feedback, goals, objectives
Management and performance appraisals are key duties of managers in any organization. However, these two important functions are not mutually exclusive in the sense that one can be done at the expense of the other. They must be implemented alongside the others in order to improve productivity and achieve financial goals of the particular organization. Subordinates do a huge part of work, consequently, they have to demonstrate initiative and leadership in order to complete the tasks assigned to them (Gabarro & Hill, 2002). The managerial role is basically to coordinate activities, and part of this lies in the area of evaluating performance and diagnosing its problems, coaching, and providing feedback on appraisal. These functions are, in essence, meant to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and gray areas of the subordinates working and empower them to perform better. This paper is a description of the managerial practices used during the execution and implementation of the mentioned functions.
Most managers do not understand the principles of performance appraisal and instead consider it actions and reactions to subordinates activities. Such responses from management can be problematic to the achievement of the stated goals. Rather than being reactionary when it comes to appraising of subordinates, it is advisable to plan on how the process will be implemented and which actions should be taken in order to enhance the quality of performance and achieve satisfaction on the part of the employees (DeCenzo, Robbins, & Verhulst, 2015). For this reason, managers, who engage in performance appraisals, need to prepare adequately for interviews to estimate their subordinates, establish the cause and effect linkage between the strengths and weaknesses of the employees personal characteristics, determine the tangible outcomes of their actions, and also make an effort to support the subordinates in their responsibilities rather than just direct their actions.
Managers also fail to acknowledge the extent of their contribution to insufficiency of their subordinates in meeting the objectives or performing optimally. Acknowledging their share in this process is critical in ensuring that corrective measures are put in place and people are treated fairly during the appraisal. The dilemma is when the managers are expected to do the coaching as well as the evaluation of performance appraisal. Proper planning will guarantee that these activities run concurrently without destabilizing the relationship with the subordinates or even making them to be defensive of their actions.
According to DeNisi & Smith (2014), performance appraisal is one of the important tools that management can use to enhance the performance of subordinates. In most cases, the feedback from the evaluation procedure is never given back to the employees, which then renders the whole exercise futile. However, the concerned people should acquaint with the results in order to encourage them to perform better in their responsibilities. The feedback should be timely so that the management is not to appear infrequent and scanty in engaging the subordinates with the necessary information. Timely responses on the results of performance appraisals have shown to improve the working process as people tend to learn from the mistakes before they become a habit. Another important element is provision of clearly defined and clarified responses so that the subordinates could understand what is being said and make the needy adjustments (Gabarro & Hill, 2002). Many managers tend to informed about general and complex statements when they prepare the reports for appraisal. The use of difficult jargon or unspecified claims causes most of the intended recipients to misunderstand or misinterpret information and, therefore, fail to make the desired changes in their segments of work.
Similarly, managers who wish to excite their subordinates to perform better through the appraisal must develop their actions to reflect the problem-solving strategies. As stated by Sheehan (2014), most managers are involved in a lot of activities including the pressure to meet the targets as stipulated by the shareholders of their companies. In the process, they are likely to forget about orienting their management style to the needs of the subordinates and empowering them to excel in the work. Issues such as motivation and emotional support are likely to be pushed to the back as the aim to improve the performance quality becomes the centre of focus. It is important to build the relationship with the junior employees around the developmental needs so that they were able to hold their appropriate responsibilities while having career path and professional growth defined in their working environment (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). Subordinates are not only concerned with the quality of work but also the extent to which they have access and the opportunities for developing professionally and meeting their aspirations.
Effective performance appraisal should be planned and implemented within the set parameters. One of them is the availability of enough time for this process. One should not approach the performance appraisal as an unimportant exercise conducted in serious way (Bednall, Sanders, & Runhaar, 2014). In fact, many organizations are unable to benefit from their performance evaluation exercises because they do not have enough time to reflect and engage in discussion on what went right and what should be corrected in the future. Setting goals and expectations is one way of ensuring that everyone is committed to playing their actions as part of the larger system in the operations of the firm (DeCenzo et al., 2015). For instance, the duration of the interview should inform the subordinate about the expected results and responses and this should be defined prior to the performance appraisal conduction, just in case the dialogue might go beyond the expected timing.
Communication is also an important element in ensuring that the management is in line with the expectations of the subordinates (Gabarro & Hill, 2002). It is advisable that performance appraisal to be approached with an open mind, and the responsible manager, in this context, should listen to the employees in order to learn and know about their experiences (Grote, 2015). Collaboration between the two parties can ensure that there is sufficient knowledge about the actions of each other. For instance, giving someone an opportunity to acknowledge their weak points can enhance the interaction during the performance appraisal process. While it is important to be open-minded during the evaluation procedure, it is critical for the manager to remain in control of how things progress without letting the subordinates to take control of the session. Communication as an aspect of performance is responsible for clarifying things, ensuring that there is sufficient information, and promoting the impact of performance on the subordinates because they understand it become more committed in their work (Tapomoy, 2009). Most employees find ineffective communication a good reason of why they cannot perform as expected. Poor interaction is often a source of conflicts between the management and subordinates. The former must develop skills to express their ideas, demands, and thoughts effectively to the employees in order them to do their work well.
Implementing a highly acclaimed performance appraisal requires a close collaboration with subordinates and the managerial team. The availability of sufficient resources is critical to ensuring that developmental needs are met especially in terms of their leadership and professional growth (Armstrong & Appelbaum, 2003). The evaluators need to form collaboration model with the management to solve the dilemma of capacity building, on the one hand, and a good working relationship on the other hand.
Superiors and managers need to be seen as friends and supporters of the subordinates who seek for understanding of their problems and becoming a part of the solution rather than one who intimidates them. Most important, superiors need to have an informed view of the needs of their staff members and initiate programs to meet those needs before carrying out the appraisal of the work. Given this background, the following recommendations are made for the purposes of promoting the effectiveness of the performance appraisal practice.
i. The managerial team must show interest in the long-term aspirations of the subordinates and implement measures to support their pursuit of these ambitions. More often than not, management tends to focus on the short-term performance of subordinates, which is a threat to their long-term visions. Promotion of career development will not just lead to better performance but also achieving the long-term objectives of the subordinates.
ii. There should be implementation of supportive approaches to autonomy that are likely to make the subordinates feel in control of their working environment. Supportive autonomy means that employees are given the opportunity to make decisions and lead others in their small groups rather than just be followers of their managers.
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iii. It is also recommended that high goals and clear objectives should be set prior to the start of the appraisal process. Most performance appraisal processes fail because there are no clearly set goals. In some cases, the aims are not communicated to the concerned parties so that initiatives are put in place to meet them. Goals and objectives can be set immediately the subordinate is hired so that they are continuously reviewed annually to make sure that they are being met.
iv. Lastly, it is recommended that managers and superiors develop a strategy to give timely and precise feedback from the appraisal sessions. It should be presented in a manner that is specific and clearly defined to avoid confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the staff. There should also be notice of critical events that inform about the ability of the subordinates to perform beyond the expectations and, therefore, develop a new strategy to meet the goals.
The managerial inclusion in the implementation process is critical to the achieving of success in performance appraisal. Given the important role that managers play, the plan will be left to the heads of department to do performance appraisals of their subordinates. But there will be timelines, which dictate when the appraisals are done and the feedback is provided (DeNisi & Smith, 2014). There will also be directions about the duration of the interviews and the discussions that should be held in its frames. These characteristics will be captured through the organizations wide policies that define the parameters and the conditions of the performance appraisal that should be done (Sheehan, 2014). Allocation of financial and human resources is also part of the implementation plan, so that the concerned people have tools and resources to do the appraisal within the required time.
Performance appraisal is also based on the existing needs, set goals and objectives of the organization (Gabarro & Hill, 2002). Without clearly defined goals and objectives, the management may not have an idea of what effective performance is supposed to be. For this reason, there will be setting of goals and objectives conducted in order to have minimum standards set for the subordinates (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). The best practice in performance appraisal is setting the systems for communication, defining the rules of engagement and initiative strategic plans to have the exercise done timely and within a facilitative environment.
The process of implementing the performance appraisal will also be preceded by a risk analysis. Subordinates might become defensive when they are asked about their weaknesses, the management might also fail to acknowledge their contribution to the existing problems, and there might not be a specifically identified developmental agenda to be achieved after the appraisal (Bednall et al., 2014). These aspects are important to the attainment of the success in the performance appraisal practice. For this reason, a risk analysis plan will be done to ascertain the reactions of the subordinates and how they are likely to impact their performance. An example of a risk plan would be identifying areas where the employees might be moved to the point they do not meet the minimum requirement for a specific work. It could also involve strategies to replace an employee who has become redundant and must be replaced (DeCenzo et al., 2015). Collaboration between the human resource management and the rest of the departmental managers will be important to the eventual success of the performance appraisal practice.
Performance appraisal is one of the most important activities that managers and superiors can undertake annually. The reason is that appraisals help to align the directions of subordinates to the objectives and goals of the company. Proper preparation and planning, effective communication systems existence, and intervening strategies for promotion of the subordinates work should precede the implementation of the performance appraisal. It is also important that performance management is presented as a way of enhancing the career development rather than simply seeking for meeting short-term goals for the companys sake. The essence of an effective plan of conducting a performance appraisal is that it allows the management to align the subordinates to roles that they can perform and deliver efficiently. The process should, however, be open-ended, so that the weaknesses and strengths of the subordinates are revealed and necessary measures to leverage on the characteristics are taken.