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The Performance Appraisal process should be approached as a continuous endeavor, not as an event that occurs once a year. | Tips | Resources | I-O Research

The Performance Appraisal process should be approached as a continuous endeavor, not as an event that occurs once a year.

This tip serves as an introduction to the concept of Performance Appraisal. This term, “Performance Appraisal”, is being used more frequently within organizations. Put simply, a performance appraisal (PA) is a systematic description of an individual or group’s job-relevant strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the word “systematic” can discourage users and lead them to think this is a tedious method of getting information. Although the process can at times be tedious, a properly implemented PA system can lead to increases in the quality of organizational decisions (e.g., pay, promotions, demotions, etc.) and individual decisions (e.g., feedback, identifying training needs, etc.). It can also provide a strong legal basis for termination and may even improve an employee’s loyalty to the organization. These benefits far outweigh the mild inconvenience created by using a proper appraisal process.

Although many organizations are beginning to talk about performance appraisals, they are not all talking about them with the same end goal in mind. More specifically, performance appraisals can be conducted for a variety reasons. The first and probably most popular use of a PA system is for making administrative decisions. This is typically viewed as a “between person” approach because you are comparing 2 or more employees when making salary, retention, or termination decisions. It is also common to use the PA system as a feedback mechanism to let subordinates know how they are doing. This is known as a “within person” approach and can be used to help identify training needs and areas for improvement. Finally, PA systems may be used to identify areas for organizational improvement as a whole or as a documentation method for personnel decisions. The key point or “Golden Rule” to keep in mind is that you should have different appraisals processes for each different purpose. By utilizing multiple processes, the raters will be able to focus on what is important (e.g., feedback vs. employment decisions).

This is just an overview of what a performance appraisal is and how it can be used. To provide more in-depth information, over the coming weeks the tips will focus on creating a quality performance appraisal system, potential pitfalls to look out for, and methods for obtaining performance information.