Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal

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Everything you need to know about the traditional methods of performance appraisal. Performance of employees can be evaluated with the help of both traditional and modern methods of appraisal.

Appraisal can also be either informal or formal. Informal appraisal is carried out in order to communicate to the subordinates about their performance on a day to day basis.

Traditional methods are very old techniques of performance appraisal. They are based on trait-oriented appraisal.

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Evaluation of employees is done on the basis of standards of personal traits or qualities such as attitudes, judgement, versatility, initiative, dependability, leadership, loyalty, punctuality, knowledge of job etc.

The various types of traditional methods of performance appraisal are:-

1. Unstructured Appraisal 2. Ranking Method 3. Forced Distribution Method 4. Graphic Rating Scale 5. Checklist Appraisal 6. Critical Incident Method

7. Essay Method 8. Group Appraisal Method 9. Field Review Method 10. Man-to-Man Comparison 11. Behaviour Anchored Rating Scales 12. Descriptive Evaluation and 13. Point System.


Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal: Ranking Method, Forced Distribution Method, Essay Method and a Few Others

Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal – Top 9 Methods (With Criticism): Unstructured Appraisal, Ranking, Forced Distribution, Graphic Rating Scale and a Few Others

Traditional methods are very old techniques of performance appraisal. They are based on trait-oriented appraisal. Evaluation of employees is done on the basis of standards of personal traits or qualities such as attitudes, judgement, versatility, initiative, dependability, leadership, loyalty, punctuality, knowledge of job etc. There are nine traditional methods of appraisal.

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These are as follows:

Traditional Method # 1. Unstructured Appraisal:

Under this, the appraiser is required to write down his impression about the person being appraised in an unstructured way. However, in some organizations, comments are required to be grouped under specific headings such as quality of job performance, reasons for specific job behaviours, personality traits and development needs.

This system is highly subjective and has got its merit in its simplicity and is still in use especially in the public sector undertakings and government departments.

Traditional Method # 2. Ranking:

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Ranking is a simple process of placing employees in a rank according to their job performance. It permits comparison of all employees in any single rating group regardless of the type of work. All workers are judged on the same factors and they are rated on the overall basis with reference to their job performance instead of individual assessment of traits.

In this way, the beset is placed first in the rank and the poorest occupies the last rank. The difficulty of this system is that the rater is asked to consider a whole man. Subjectiveness in this method can be reduced by asking the appraiser to rank employees on certain desirable traits. The other difficulty with this method is that it does not indicate the degree of difference between the first man and the second man and so on.

Paired comparison is an improvement over simple ranking. Under this, every employee in a job family is compared with every other employee to determine which is the better worker. The rater is provided with a little booklet containing two names on each page. Obviously the number of rank order would be n(n – 1)/2, where n is the total number of persons to be compared.

In this way, every employee is compared with every other employee in the same job family. The paired comparison gives a more reliable rating than the order of ranks discussed above although this system is more tedious to construct and use. It cannot be used for periodic employees’ ratings are it does not make evaluation of any improvement in the employees that might have been made over a period of time.

Traditional Method # 3. Forced Distribution:

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Some appraisers suffer from a constant error, i.e., they either rate all workers as excellent, average or poor. They fail to evaluate the poor, average or excellent employees clearly. The forced distribution system is devised to force the appraiser to fit the employees being appraised into pre-determined ranges of scale. It has an advantage over the paired comparison system in that two or more employees can be given equal ratings.

This system is based on the presumption that employees can be divided into five point’s scale of outstanding, above average, below average and poor. In this system, the appraiser is asked to distribute the employees into these categories in such a way that 10% of the men are in group ‘outstanding’, 20% ‘above average’, 40% ‘average’, 20% ‘below average’ and 10% ‘poor’.

This method obviously eliminates the room for subjective judgement on the part of supervisors. Besides this, the system is easy to understand and administer. The objective of this technique is to spread out ratings in the form of a normal distribution and it is open to criticism. Many times, this categorization is not found in work groups particularly when the group is comparatively small.

Traditional Method # 4. Graphic Rating Scale:

Under this method, scales are established for a number of specific factors and qualities. Five degrees are established for each factor and general definitions appear at points along the scale. Generally, the rater is supplied with a printed form, one for each person to be rated. The selection of factors to be measured on the graphic rating scale is an important point under this system.

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These are of two types – (a) Characteristics, such as initiative and dependability, and (b) Contributions, such as quantity and quality of work. Since certain areas of job performance cannot be objectively measured, it is likely that graphic scale will continue to use a mixture of both characteristics and contributions.

Graphic rating scales impose a heavy burden upon the supervisor. He must report and evaluate the performance of his subordinates on scales involving as many as five degrees on perhaps ten different factors. The main drawback of this system is that the rater may be biased.

However, one means of ensuring is to leave space on the form after each factor and require him to explain the reason for his rating. In effect, he is asked to give example of the rate’s behaviour that justifies the assigned rating. In practice, ratings tend to cluster on the high side under this system. A supervisor may tend to rate his men high to avoid criticism from them.

The graphic rating method is easy to understand and easy to use. It permits the statistical tabulation of scores in terms of measures of central tendency, skewness and dispersion. It permits a ready comparison of scores among employees. The scores presumably reveal the merit or value of every individual.

Traditional Method # 5. Checklist Appraisal:

Various statements are prepared in such a manner that they describe various types of behaviour of an individual on a particular job as shown in the following table. Each statement is attached a scale value. At the time of rating the employees, the supervisor just recollects and checks all statements.

After this weights or values are attached to the individual traits and rating up to this level is gathered on the rating sheet. Then the weights are averaged and employee is evaluated. The weighted checklist should be prepared by the persons thoroughly acquainted with the job and perfect at preparing and weighing statements. When this process is complete, ratings are placed on separate cards for future reference.

This method does not allow the supervisor to accumulate vague impressions as the basis for scoring. It compels him to think in terms of very specific kinds of behaviour. This method involves a lengthy procedure of evaluating employees.

That is why, this method is relatively costlier. It puts more strain on the financial resources of the organization particularly in terms of personnel development time. Financial burden is further increased when diverse jobs are evaluated because a separate procedure must be established for each job.

Traditional Method # 6. Critical Incident:

A critical incident means a significant act by an employee exceeding or failing any of the requirements of his job.

It represents an exceptional behaviour of an employee at work, as for instance:

(a) Resisted the implementation of change.

(b) Became upset over work.

(c) Refused to help a fellow worker.

(d) Suggested an improvement in the work method.

(e) Tried to get a fellow worker to accept the management decision.

(f) Accepted new ideas.

This method requires every supervisor to record all of such significant incidents in each employee’s behaviour which indicate effective or successful action and those which indicate ineffective or poor behaviour. These are recorded in a specially designed notebook which contains categories for characteristics under which various behaviours can be recorded.

Examples of such types of job requirements for workers are judgement; learning ability, productivity, dependability, accuracy of work, responsibility and initiative. Daily recording of these items seems to be essential because, otherwise, the supervisor may forget the incidents with his subordinates.

The main problem with this method is that the outstanding incidents happen so infrequently that individual’s appraisal may not vary markedly in any two time periods. It has been observed that most of the time the employees have neither positive nor negative incidents.

If the critical event does not happen, it will be difficult to rate an employee. Moreover, it may be difficult for a supervisor to decide what the critical or exceptional incident is. Here again the human bias may appear in recording the critical incident.

Traditional Method # 7. Essay Evaluation Method:

Under essay evaluation method, the superior writes a report about the employee which is based on his assessment of employees’ performance. The superior continuously watches the subordinate and writes his assessment in the report.

While preparing an essay on the employee, the rater generally considers the following factors:

(a) Job knowledge and potential of the employee.

(b) Employee’s traits and attitudes.

(c) Employee’s understanding of the company’s programmes, policies, objectives, etc.

(d) Employee’s relations with the juniors, co-workers and supervisors.

(e) Development needs of the employee.

Essay evaluation is a non-quantitative technique of appraisal. It provides a good deal of information about the employee being appraised.

Essay evaluation method may suffer from personal and human bias because of likings or dis-likings of the supervisor. An appraiser may not be able to express his judgement in appropriate words and it will limit the utility of appraisal reports.

Moreover, a busy appraiser may write the essay hurriedly without properly assessing the actual performance of the employee. On the other hand, if the appraiser takes a lot of time in preparing the essay, it becomes uneconomical from the point of view of the firm, because time is a very costly factor.

Traditional Method # 8. Group Appraisal:

Under the group appraisal method, the employees are rated by an appraisal group, consisting of their supervisor and three or four other persons who have some knowledge of their performance. The supervisor explains to the group the nature of his subordinates’ duties.

The group then discusses the standards of performance for that job, the actual performance of the employee and the causes of their particular level of performance and offers suggestions for future improvements, if any.

This method is devoid of personal bias, since appraisal is done by multiple judges. Moreover, it is a very thorough and simple method. The only drawback is that this method is time consuming.

Traditional Method # 9. Field Review:

Under this method, the supervisors are interviewed by an expert from the HR or personnel department. The expert questions the supervisor to obtain all the pertinent information on each employee and takes notes in his note book. Thus, there is no rating form with factors or degrees, but overall ratings are obtained. The workers are usually classified into three categories as outstanding, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.

The interviewer questions the supervisor about the requirements of each job in his unit and about the performance of each man in his job. He probes to find out not only how a man is doing but also why he does that way and what can be done to improve or develop him.

The supervisor is required to give his opinion about the progress of his subordinates, the level of the performance of each subordinate, his weaknesses, good points, outstanding ability, promotability, and the possible plans of action in cases requiring further consideration. The questions are asked and answered verbally.

The success of field review method depends upon the competence of the interviewer. If he knows his job, he can contribute significantly to accurate appraisals. Field review method relieves the supervisors of the tedious writing work of filling in appraisal forms.

It also ensures a greater likelihood that the supervisors will give adequate attention to the appraisals because the personnel department largely controls the process. Superficial judgement can be eliminated if the appraiser probes deeply.

Criticism of Traditional Methods:

The general criticism of traditional performance appraisal systems is that they are too subjective in nature because all of them are based on personal judgement of the rater. The personal judgement is always subjected to personal bias or prejudice as well as pressure from certain other areas. The appraiser may not be able to judge the competence of the employees because of lack of training.

Because of the judgmental role of the superiors under the traditional systems, performance ratings are frequently subject to a number of errors and weaknesses which are discussed below:

(i) Halo Error:

This type of error occurs when the rater allows one aspect of a man’s character or performance to influence his entire evaluation. It is the tendency of many raters to let the rating they assign to one characteristic or trait excessively influence their ratings on all subsequent characteristics. Many supervisors tend to give an employee approximately the same rating on all factors.

This error can be recognised quite easily on factor scales. The rating scale technique of performance appraisal is particularly susceptible to the halo supervisor judge all of his subordinates on a single trait before going to the next. In this manner, he can consider all of the subordinates relative to a standard or to each other on each trait.

(ii) Central Tendency Error:

This error occurs when the rater is in doubt about the subordinates or has inadequate information about them or is giving less attention to the rating process. Because of these reasons, generally the raters are reluctant to rate people at the outer ends of the scale. The rater knows that he has to appraise his subordinates at periodic intervals.

But if he is unfamiliar with some of the subordinates or does not have sufficient time to devote to the rating process, he may play it safe by neither condemning nor praising. So he may rate them ‘average’. It is possible for this type of rating i.e., all average to be a true rating, but its probability is less than its frequency.

(iii) Leniency or Strictness Error:

Some supervisors have a tendency to be easy raters and others have a tendency to be harsh in their ratings. Lenient or easy raters assign consistently high values or scores to their subordinates and strict or harsh raters give consistently low ratings. Both the trends can arise from varying standards of performance among supervisors and form different interpretations of what they observe in employee performance.

(iv) Recent Behaviour Bias:

Often some raters evaluate persons on the basis of their performance in the recent few weeks; average constant behaviour is not checked. Some employees being aware of this tendency show better results when they feel that they are being observed and the report of their performance is to be compiled soon.


Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal – 5 Important Methods: Ranking Method, Man-to-Man Comparison, Grading and Few Other Methods

1. Ranking Method:

This is the oldest method. It is also known as the simplest method of rating. In this method, one person is compared with all other personnel. Ghiselli and Brown have described the technical features of rating method. According to their idea of ranking is to distribute the individuals being rated along one order of merit from best to worst on one or more characteristics.

This method is quite simple in a small group but it is suitable for large groups. The system is rated having limited value due to differences in rank and those between individuals.

An alteration in the ranking system is made to increase its value for use in large groups. In the method of paired comparison, each person, one at a time, is compared with every other person.

The result of the comparison can be tabulated and a rank created from a number of times each person is considered to be superior. At the same time, the system needs a large number of comparisons.

2. Man-to-Man Comparison:

This system was initially used by US Army during World War-I. In this, certain traits like personality factors like leadership, initiative, dependability, etc., were selected for analysis. A scale was developed for each factor instead of comparing a person to another.

Personnel are compared to key man, one factor at a time. Like this a scale of men is created for each selected factor. This system of measurement is used today in job evaluation being known as a factor comparison system. Even though it is highly useful in measuring job, it has very limited scope in measuring people.

3. Grading:

In this system particular categories of capable men are considered in advance. These are carefully selected and men are placed in a separate group depending upon their merit; such as outstanding, satisfactory and unsatisfactory. At times, grading system is modified into forced distribution system in which certain percentage is allotted for each grade. Mostly in small group forced distribution system is not practicable.

4. Graphic Rating Scale:

This system is similar to man to man system with only a difference of degrees on a factor scale represented by definitions rather than the key man. The central idea behind this scaling is the provision of a scale representing different degrees of particular features. The rater can estimate the degree to which each trait is present in his subordinates by observing their particular behaviour at the job.

As a matter of fact, there are two types of factors which are measured on graphic scales, viz.:

a) Present character is like leadership, initiative and dependability.

b) Contribution of individual, such as quality and quantity of work.

Since certain areas of an individual performance cannot be identified easily, graphic scale will continue to use a combination of characteristics and contributions with specific emphasis upon latter. Graphic rating scales have undergone remarkable changes to make the system more reliable and substantial in nature. Among the design, innovations are adoption of discontinued scale, reversal scales, and numerical weighing system.

5. Forced Choice Description Method:

This method was evolved by Psychologists for the US Army in World War-II. This attempts to correct rater’s thought process to give consistently high or low rating to all employees. The use of this method demand for objective reporting and minimum subjective judgement.

In this method, several sets of rating elements are there. Paired phrases or adjectives usually set of four phrases two of which are ‘positive’ and two negative relating to job; proficiency or personal qualifications. The rater is asked to indicate which of the four phrases is most and least descriptive of the employee.

This method combines rating with scoring system. The rater has a form on each item consisting of group of statements pertaining to subordinate, rather than two of the four statements—one of which is the most suitable and the other least suitable of the individual he is rating.

For example, a pair of such rating is given below:

a. He is hard-working

b. He gives proper guidance to subordinates.

The rater is to select any one of these which is more suitable and mandatory. He may state both are equally applicable or not. He has to select the one that is more suitable to the person in question.

The rater is also forced to choose between statements that are equally unfavourable like the ones given below:

a. He cannot be depended upon for financial dealings.

b. He shows favouritism to some employees.

It was found that the use of forced choice method effectively eliminated the leniency error whereas the use of graphic method format enabled the introduction of bias. A fair agreement on the criteria for success, failure and acceptance by superiors who must rate their subordinates without knowing the relative rating they are giving.


Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal – 9 Main Methods Commonly Used for Evaluating Performances of Individual

Method # 1. Ranking:

In this system, one person is compared with all other persons for the purpose of placing him or her in the order of merit/worth, thereby ranking each individual. Therefore, the appraiser considers person and performance as an entity; no attempt is made to systematically fractionise what is being appraised into competent elements. Can the human mind handle so many variables at one time simultaneously?

To simplify, paired comparison method can be used in which A’s performance is compared with B, C, D & E. The results of these comparisons can be tabulated and rank created from the number of times each person is considered superior.

Method # 2. Person to Person Comparison:

The Army in WWI used this method. Certain factors, such as leadership, initiative and dependability etc., were selected for purpose of analysis. Instead of defining varying degree of leadership, particular personalities were used to represent these degrees. The rater was expected to develop his own scale by evaluating the leadership qualities of persons known in the past. The person who demonstrated the highest degree of leadership was placed at the upper end of the scale and accordingly all others were also rated to create an order of merit for each selected factor.

Method # 3. Grading:

In this method, the rater establishes certain factors and marks them on the scale. Certain categories of worth are identified and carefully defined.

The selected features may be dependability, self-expression, job knowledge, leadership and so on. The grading may be outstanding, satisfactory and unsatisfactory or excellent, good, satisfactory, poor, etc.

The actual performance of the worker is then compared with these grade definitions and he is assigned the grade which best describes the performance.

Method # 4. Graphic Scales or Linear Rating Scales:

Under this method, the rating of an individual’s performance is based on predetermined rating scales. The number of factors included in the scale may vary according to category and the job. The factor includes dependability, initiative, attitude, cooperation, loyalty, leadership, analytical ability and so on. Each factor is broken down into points scale like 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25.

This method is easy to use and to understand. The rater can easily tabulate and compare the scores among the employees.

Method # 5. Check Lists:

In this method, a series of questions is presented concerning the subject employee’s behaviour. The rater answers each question in Yes or No. At times, different weightage is allotted to different items; it then becomes weighted checklist. However, asking same questions again in a different manner can also check the consistency of rater. Separate checklists are prepared for different jobs.

Method # 6. Forced Choice Description:

Under this method, the rating elements are several sets of pair phrases relating to the employee’s job proficiency/personal qualities. The rater has to mark the one which is closest to the employee’s self-e.g. –

(i) Gives good clear instructions to subordinates.

(ii) Can be depended upon to complete assigned jobs.

(iii) Makes promises he or she knows can’t be kept.

(iv) Shows favouritism towards some employees.

This method precludes rater’s bias, is easy to administer and can fit in for a wide variety of jobs.

Method # 7. Behaviour Anchored Rating Scales:

Under this method, the rater evaluates the behaviour of the employee in different situations.

The procedure of BARS is covered in 5 stages:

(i) Recording Critical Incidents – The persons to be evaluated are asked to describe critical incidents of effective and ineffective performance.

(ii) Clustering of events – These incidents are then clustered into small sets of 5 to 7 performance dimensions. Each cluster is then defined.

(iii) Reallocating Incidents -These critical incidents are again re-allocated into different clusters, if required by another group of people. If the group desires, it can redesign incidents also.

(iv) Scale of Incidents – The group then rates the behaviour on the rating scale known as behavioural expectations scale. It can determine the effectiveness of the appropriate dimension.

(v) Developing Anchors – The scales are anchored by specific behaviour within each category. This facilitates feedback to each employee.

Method # 8. Critical Incident:

This approach focuses on certain critical behaviours of an employee that make a significant difference in effective/non-effective performance of a job. The superiors record such incidents as and when they occur. These incidents could be positive or negative in nature. The advantage is that appraisal is realities based and help employees to improve.

Method # 9. Essay:

In this method, the rater describes the employee within a number of broad categories- (i) overall impression of employee’s performance (ii) promotability (iii) jobs that the employee is capable of doing (iv) strengths and weaknesses (v) Training and Development needs.

This method is very useful in filling information gaps. But, proficiency of rater in writing skills and analytical ability are two most important prerequisites of this method to be successfully used. It also depends on the memory power of the rater.


Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal – Traditional and Highly Systematic Appraisal Methods Used by Various Organisations

Various studies have revealed that an increasing number of firms are opting for some formal type of appraisal. When formal programmes of appraisal are utilised, most organisations use one of the many traditional and systematic methods of appraisal.

In a systematic appraisal, performance of all the employ­ees of a particular category are evaluated in the same manner using the same approach so that the ratings obtained of separate personnel are comparable.

The systematic appraisals are made at regular periodical intervals according to a predetermined plan. In a systematic appraisal, evaluation is made of ‘what the person does’ rather than ‘what he/she is’.

Systematic performance appraisal is of great value in as much as it provides very useful and well- in-time information needed for making decisions at the time of promotions, transfers, pay increases and so on. Besides, it also provides the information in a form that permits the making of comparisons because all personnel have been appraised in the same manner using the same approach.

There are various traditional performance appraisal systems used by different organisations.

The important ones are as follows:

i. Straight Ranking Method:

This is the simplest and oldest method of performance appraisal. Here, an employee is not treated sepa­rately from his/her job. One person is compared with all others for the purpose of placing them in a simple rank order of worth. In this way, all the employees are placed in order of their relative worth.

Thus, this method separates the efficient from inefficient. However, this method suffers from a number of inherent defects. First, it does not appear to be desirable to compare one person with another because different people have different traits and qualities. Second, this method simply tells us who is better than the other, but it does not indicate how much better he/she is than the other.

Third, this method may be used only in the case of small organisations. If a company employs a large number of employees, then it may not be possible to rank all of them in order of their worth.

Fourth, this system is based on snap judge­ment and does not have any systematic procedure to determine the relative worth of an employee. Hence, in order to overcome the defects of this system, the paired comparison method has been developed.

ii. Paired Comparison Method:

As per this method, each employee is compared with every other employee of the organisation, one at a time. Suppose there are six employees in a particular firm. First, A’s performance is compared with B’s and a decision is taken as to whose performance is better. Then A is compared with C, D, E and F in order.

Then, the next employee B will be compared with all other employees individually, and in the same way C, D, E and F will also be compared one by one with all other employees. Thus, in all, 15 decisions would be taken, involving only 2 employees in each decision.

The number of decisions is determined by the following formula:

Where N equals the number of personnel to be compared. The result of these comparisons can be tabu­lated, and in this way a rank can be created from the number of times each employee is found better.

This method of performance appraisal is also not practicable in the case of big organisations where a large number of employees are engaged because in such cases, the number of judgements to be made becomes too large.

iii. Man-to-Man Comparison:

In this method, for appraisal, more variables are ascertained such as leadership, qualifications and faith­fulness. After this, for each variable, a master scale is prepared in which for execution of each job, strata are maintained according to qualities. For that work, the most efficient person and the least efficient person are selected.

These people are the two ends of the scale. After that, at a medium point, an average person is selected. Later on, the two points are marked below and over the average. In this way, five points are ascertained. Comparing these points, a person’s qualities are known.

Thus, in this method, instead of comparing whole people’ to whole people’, personnel are compared to ‘key people’, one factor at a time. In performance appraisal, though this method is used to know the qualified person by the comparison of variables, the preparation of master scale is a difficult problem.

iv. Grading Method:

In this method, all people are grouped serially from best to least efficient for their each quality and are grouped as extraordinary, best, good, average, bad and worst. These groups are also explained. These groups could be increased or lessened.

v. Graphic Rating Scales Method:

It is the simplest and most popular method for appraising performance. As per this technique, the rater is presented with a set of traits such as job knowledge, quantity, quality and initiative, and is asked to rate employees on each of these traits. The number of traits rated may vary from a few to many.

The rating can be in a series of boxes or it can also be on a continuous scale of 0-9 or the like, and in the case of using a continuous scale, the rater places a check above descriptive words ranging from none to maximum. These ratings are then assigned points such as outstanding may be assigned a score of 5 and unsatisfactory a score of 0. Total scores are then computed.

Later on, in order to make the scale more effective, two modifications are designed, namely – (a) mixed standard scale in which the rater, instead of just rating a trait like ‘job knowledge’, has to tick one of the three statements given to describe that trait and (b) adding operational and benchmark statements to describe different levels of performance.

vi. Checklist Method:

This is also known as questionnaire method. In this method, a checklist is prepared in which several questions related to performance of a particular job are included such as ‘Is equipment maintained by him/her (ratee) in good condition?’ ‘Is he/she respectful to his/her superiors?’ ‘Does he/she listen sin­cerely to his/her subordinates?’

The rater has to simply mark a ‘tick’ against the column of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In other words, the rater simply reports the behaviour, and the evaluation of the ‘reported behaviour’ may be done by the HR department.

This system has the possibility of partiality as the rater does the work by himself/herself. Second, each department or work needs separate checklists as nature, character and responsibilities of different jobs have vast differences. Hence, it involves more work.

vii. Forced Choice Description Method:

This method reduces the chances of rater bias because the rater has to make a choice between the two descriptive statements seemingly of equal worth. Out of each pair, the rater has to select one statement which according to him/her is the most characteristic of the employee who is being rated.

For example, the rater will have to make a choice out of the following two questions:

(1) Can he/she be relied upon to any extent?

(2) Does he/she maintain good relations with his/her subordinates?

Only one statement in each pair is correct in identifying the better performance, and this scoring key is kept secret and is not known to the rater. After the rater completes his/her assessment, he/she sends it to the HR department where it is compiled and the result is ready.

This is a simple method and is an improvement over the grading procedure. There is no partiality, but this method is not able to cast directions on the future development of the worker. At times the evaluator has to take such decisions which he/she does not prefer.

viii. Selection of Critical Incident Method:

This method is based on the assumption that there are certain key acts of behaviour which are respon­sible for success on a job. The supervisor-rater keeps on recording such acts/events that take place in the performance of the ratee’s job. These acts/events are the critical incidents.

For example, the sales officer may keep on noting whether the salesperson has been courteous to the customers or whether the he/she attends to telephone calls effectively and so on. All these acts may be considered as critical incidents. Thereafter, all the collected critical incidents may be ranked in order of importance or frequency or both.

In this way, numerical weights can be obtained, thereby providing the basis for a rating score for the evaluation of performance of the ratee. Thus, we find that in this method, the supervisor-rater has to be very vigilant, and each pertinent critical incident has to be identified.

ix. Descriptive Evaluation:

In this method, the evaluator prepares a written report in relation to the execution of the job by the employee, containing details about the personality, merits, quantity and quality of work, and so on. The clarity and extensiveness of the report (description) play an important role in the effectiveness of evaluation.

x. Point System:

In this method, for every unit of every work, some points are specified. A manual or a scale is used in which all units’ description, points for evaluation and evaluation procedure are given. Generally, some units are determined as cleverness, responsibility, effort (mental or bodily) and job conditions.

Each person’s each merit is given the points from the maximum determined points. Afterwards, all the points are totalled, and that is the evaluation of that person.

xi. Field Review Method:

Under this method, the evaluator asks the supervisor questions about the workers working under him/ her and gets his/her opinion and records it. These are signed by the supervisor and kept for future refer­ence as a context.


Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal – Top 11 Traditional Methods: Confidential Report, Essays Method, Critical Incident Method and a Few Other Methods

Traditional Method # 1. Confidential Report:

This method is generally applicable in government organizations. This report is prepared by immediate superior of employee, at the end of every year. This report is descriptive in nature only highlights the strong and weak points of the subordinate. It does not include any database. There is no scope for feedback to the appraisee of his repost in this method but in recent years, due to the pressure of courts and trade unions, the brief description of this report are given to the appraisee by the management.

Traditional Method # 2. Essay:

This is very old and simple method of appraisal. In this method appraiser is to write a narrative describing an appraisee’s strengths, weaknesses, past experience and leadership ability.

The appraiser considers the following factors during writing an essay about appraisee:

(a) General awareness about company’s policies, objections procedures and programmes;

(b) Knowledge about job and general potential of the employee;

(c) General planning, organizing, directing and controlling ability;

(d) Inter personal and intrapersonal relationship with superiors, subordinates and co-workers;

(e) The attitudes, perception and learning ability;

(f) Development needs for future

This method provide detailed information about the appraisee and that can be useful for taking future decisions about employee.

At the same time, this method suffers from the following drawbacks:

(a) It is extremely subjective in nature;

(b) It tends to focus on behaviour in the appraisee’s work rather than routine performance;

(c) Some appraisers may not have the ability to write a descriptive report which may not present the actual performance of the appraisee.

(d) It is almost impossible to do comparison among individual, groups and departments which are subscribed with different nature and aspects of working and performance. Thus, it is difficult for HR decisions to use essay about the subordinates ranked relatively.

(e) Rater biasness is reflected into such type of appraisal.

Traditional Method # 3. Critical Incident:

This method was developed by the armed forces in the United States during World War II. The rates prepares the lists of critical incident which may be effective or ineffective that occur during working of the appraisee and used in the course of a periodical or formal appraisal. Generally these critical incidents focus on behaviours not traits of the appraisee.

For example, “on 5 December, 06 the establishment assistant of HR department is prompt and enthusiastic in solving the problems of internal customers while on the same day the recruitment assistant is lazy and not interested in dealing the customers”.

In this way rater keeps written records of many specific examples of behaviour of appraise and provide feedback to rate during performance review session about his critical incidents. These critical incidents are discovered after a thorough study of the personnel working a job and ranked in order of frequency and importance. This method moves towards more objective evaluation.

However, this method suffers from the following limitations:

(a) It is time consuming and the responsibility of rater is to maintain records of the critical incidents of rates.

(b) The negative or ineffective incidents may be highlighted more as compared positive incidents.

(c) The very close supervision is required for noticing the critical incidents

(d) The appraiser may unload a number of complaints about incidents during an annual performance review session.

(e) It is very difficult to compare these critical incidents among individuals, groups and department because these are in the narrative form.

Traditional Method # 4. Checklist:

This is another type of individual performance appraisal method which is very simple. The checklist contain a set of objectives and/or descriptive statements about rate and his behaviour. If the rates believes that the raitee possesses a particular listed trait, he checks or ticks the item. Otherwise, he leaves the items blank. This checklist is prepared by HR department and the final rating is also done by HR manager. The value of each statement may be weighted equally or certain statement may be weighted more heavily than others.

The sample statements in the checklist is given below:

(a) Is the employee interested in his job? Yes/No

(b) Is he punctual on his work place? Yes/No

(c) Does he follow instructions properly? Yes/No

(d) Is he respected by his subordinates? Yes/No

(e) Does he make mistakes frequently? Yes/ No

(f) Does he respect his superior? Yes/No

(g) Does he keep his temper? Yes/No

(h) Is the equipment maintained in order? Yes/No

Many more statements may be incorporated in the check lists depending on the nature of job and job requirements. Even a separate checklist may be developed for different classes of jobs.

This method also have some limitations:

(a) This method is expensive and time consuming

(b) The appraiser may be biased in distinguishing the positive and negative statements.

(c) It is difficult to assemble, analyse, and weigh a number of statements about employee’s characteristics and contributions.

Traditional Method # 5. Graphic Rating Scales:

This method was introduced by Walter D. Scott to get the judgement of superiors on subordinates. It is oldest and most widely used appraisal technique. In this method a printed form is used to evaluate the performance of an employee.

According to H. J. Jucius two categories of factors are mentioned in this form:

(a) Employee Characteristics – These factors are initiative leadership, Cooperativeness, dependability, attitude, loyalty, creativity, decisiveness, analytical ability emotional ability, enthusiasm and co-ordination.

(b) Employee Contributions – These factors are quantity and quality of work responsibility assumed, specific goals achieved, regularity of attendance, leadership offered, attitude towards superiors and associates, and versatility.

Rating scales can be continuous wherein the appraiser places a mark somewhere along a numbered line or they can have distinct steps or boxes from unsatisfactory/poor to excellent/outstanding. Scale points can be assigned scores ranging from 5 points for outstanding to zero points for poor and a total score for each employee. If some characteristics are considered particularly important the rating on these attributes can be assigned weight before the total is calculated.

This method is easy to understand, easy to use and permits a statistical tabulation of scores of employees. This rating scale is less time consuming to develop and administer. If the rating scales are standardized, then the comparisons across sections and departments can be made. However, this method suffers from some disadvantages.

Traditional Method # 6. Forced Choice Description:

As per views of D. Dyder, this method was developed after a research conducted for the military services during World War II. This is a special type of behavioural checklist specially developed to reduce further tendency to give consistently high or consistently low ratings to all the employees.

Under this method, the rating elements are several sets of pair phrases, two of which may be positive and two negative relating to job or personal qualifications. The appraiser is asked to choose which of the phrases is most or least descriptive of each employee.

For example, four items used to rate State Bank of India instructors at their Hyderabad Staff College:

(a) Encourages the average trainee.

(b) Has a stylized mode of delivery?

(c) Uses a case study method wherever possible

(d) Involves the class in his lectures and hold their attention.

All the four statements appear equally good or bad to the appraiser but only two are actually related to actual job performance, that is, statements 1 to 4. The other two are favourable but only socially desirable. Since the rates does not know what the scoring weights for each statement are in theory at least, he cannot play favourites.

On the basis of above example it is clear that the overall objectivity is increased in this method because the rates does not know how high or low he is evaluating individual appraisee.

In actual practice, this has its drawbacks:

(a) It is very difficult to develop set of pair phrases

(b) It is time consuming and costly

(c) The ratee himself does not know how ‘high’ or low he is evaluating the employee because he has no access to the scoring key.

(d) The evaluation result do not prove useful for counselling and training purposes.

Inspite of these drawbacks this method is quite popular now a days.

Traditional Method # 7. Ranking:

This is the oldest and simplest subject of formal systematic evaluation of performance of the employee. Under this method the appraisee and his performance is considered as an entity means ‘whole man’, concept. The ‘whole man’ is compared with another whole man for the purpose of placing them in a simple order of rank based on worth to the organisation. The relative position of each employee is expressed in terms of his numerical rank.

This is the simplest method of differentiating between most efficient and least efficient employees, but very difficult to differentiate among average employees. This method is easy to explain, understand and use. It is generally less time consuming and less expensive than other evaluation techniques. The appraisal can make group of employees into proportionate parts, such as top three, middle three and bottom three. This is also called group order ranking.

However, this method also suffers from the following disadvantages:

(a) In practice, it is very difficult to compare individuals possessing varied behavioural traits.

(b) If the large number of employees are working in the organisation then ranking can become complex.

(c) This method does not eliminate snap judgements.

Traditional Method # 8. Forced Distribution:

This method was developed by Joseph Tiffin. In this method appraiser is asked to evaluate appraisee according to a predetermined distribution scale. Generally two criteria used for rating are the job performance and promote ability. The employees are placed between the two extremes of good and bad performances. For example, 10% are placed at the top end of the scale as outstanding; 20% may be placed as good; 40% satisfactory; 20% fair; and rest 10% poor.

Dale S, each has humorously recorded; “This method brings to mind the college statistics professor who was teaching a graduate class of only four students. At the beginning of the semester he announced that there would be one A granted, two B granted and one C. This is exactly how he assigned the grades at the completion of the course!” A part from job performance, the employees are rated to promote ability for this purpose, three points scale may be used.

These points are:

(a) Likely promotional material;

(b) Major may not be promotional material; and

(c) Unlikely to be promotional material

This method try to reduce or minimize rater’s bias because it is not possible to place all ratees at the higher and or at the lower end of the scale. The leniency and central tendency type cross with different scale is not possible. But this is not useful in wage administration because it may result in low morale, low productivity and high rate of absenteeism.

Traditional Method # 9. Paired Comparison:

This is more systematic method of comparing for every trait with all other appraisers in a group at a time. For example if there are six persons to be compared, then A’s performance is compared to B’s and a decision is taken as to whose is the better performance. Then A is compared to C, D, E and F in that order for one trait. In the next step, B is compared only with C, D, E and F. In this way a similar comparison is made in respect of other personnel.

The number of decisions is determined by using the formula N [N – 1]/2 where N represents the N (N – 1)/2 number of appraisee to be compared. In the above example only fifteen pair of judgements are necessitated. The result of these comparisons are tabulated and a rank is assigned to each appraisee.

It is more complicated than straight ranking but this yield to more consistent and reliable ranks than the simple ranking method. This method is not suitable when the number of individuals for evaluation is large. For example, if N = 100 then comparisons to be made are 100 (100 – 1)/2 = 100 [99]/2, = 9900/2 = 4950.

Traditional Method # 10. Group Appraisal:

In this method, the appraisee is appraised by a group of appraisers consisting of three or four other supervisors who have some knowledge of their performance apart from his immediate supervisor. The group select any one of the method discussed above. The immediate supervisor appraisee to the group about job standards duties and nature of his subordinate.

Then group discuss the performance of expraisee, compares the actual performance with standards, find out any deviations and suggests ways for future improvement, if necessary. This method is simple and avoid, any bias to the large extent because the performance is evaluated by group of appraisers. But it is very time consuming.

Traditional Method # 11. Field Review:

In this method, a trained person from HR department with the help of line supervisor to evaluate their respective subordinates. As per opinion of Habbe, Stephen, it is necessary that the appraiser should be fully equipped with test questions which he puts to the supervisor and the supervisor is required to give his opinion about the progress of his subordinates and also interviews with the employee.

Based on the information which is received, the rater prepares a report which is sent to the supervisor for review, changes and approval. This method is used primarily in making promotion decisions at the managerial level. This method is also useful when comparable information is needed from employees in the different units or locations. The success of this method depends upon the competence of the rater. However, this method is also costly and time consuming and practically not possible for many organizations.


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