Approaches of Performance Appraisal: Trait Approach, Behaviour Approach, Result Approach

04/07/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

The employee performance appraisal process is crucial for organizations to boost employee productivity and improve their outcomes. Performance appraisals are an annual process where an employee’s performance and productivity is evaluated against a predetermined set of objectives.

Performance management is super important, not only because it is the determining factor in an employee’s wage rise and promotion but also because it can evaluate an employee’s skills, strengths, and shortcomings accurately.

One of the important considerations in creating your organization’s performance management (PM) system is the approach used to measure performance. According to organizational researcher Herman Aguinis (2009), there are three types of criteria

  • Trait Approach
  • Behaviour Approach
  • Result Approach

The behavior approach to performance management focuses on specific behaviors that an employee engages in. Aguinis (2009) suggests that using a behavioral approach is appropriate when there is not a clear link between behaviors and results, outcomes of performance are far away in the future, and results are not in the control of the employee.

When there is a clear link between employee behaviors and an outcome, a results approach may be more appropriate (Aguinis, 2009). The results approach focuses only on the end result of employee actions (e.g. mistakes made, machine parts produced, sales per month). This approach tends to be more objective than the other approaches, and it is appropriate under a number of circumstances. A results approach is ideal when employees have the skills need to complete work tasks, and they can recognize and correct inaccurate behaviors (Aguinis, 2009). This approach also works when employees improve over time. This may incentivize them to improve their skills and develop expertise in order to achieve the desired results. Additionally, the results approach works well when there are several ways to get to the desired approach. Sales people can use many different approaches to making sales, and not all ways are needed by each individual. The results approach allows knowledgeable employees to use their information and resources to obtain the desired performance in a more autonomous way.

A third approach is to measure employee traits during the review cycle. Traits are relatively unchanging characteristics of an individual, such as personality or intelligence. The idea is that there is a relationship between some traits and performance, such as extraversion and leadership performance. However, this may be problematic for PM systems because traits are relatively stable and not in control of the employees. It is difficult to justify giving employees lower scores because they are introverted. Employees are less likely to see this process as fair. Additionally, having a desired trait does not mean that the employee will use it to perform better at work. Capability does not equal performance. Therefore, the trait approach to measuring performance is rarely warranted. The exception might be if the organization is going through major structural changes, but the organization should have a clear justification for using traits backed by HR and the legal department. In almost all cases, employers can use behavioral and results approaches to evaluate employees.

Organizations may also be interested in using multiple methods in their PM systems. For example, a results approach may be more applicable to Starbucks district retail managers, who focus on setting and achieving sales goals quarterly goals, than for baristas, who focus on making drinks and engaging with customers.

Trait Appraisal:

Malcolm can use traits as a standard. A trait is a characteristic that an individual possesses. Traits include things such as appearance, attitude, initiative, work ethic, leadership ability, a sense of ethics, loyalty, adaptability and judgment.

One big issue with using traits as a standard in judging performance is that they are pretty much subjective in nature. On the other hand, if the trait has some legitimate relationship to the job, then it may have some value in appraisal. For example, Malcolm’s company expects its pharmaceutical sales reps to be immaculately groomed and professionally dressed. In this case, appearance has relevance and can have some degree of objectivity if a dress code is established.

Behavioral Appraisal:

Behaviors can also be used as criteria in performance appraisals. While traits are characteristics, behaviors are actions. Of course, to be effective, the behaviors must be related to the performance being appraised. Malcolm may use behaviors that demonstrate cooperation and team building when developing team appraisals. Salespeople may be assessed on their persistency in making cold calls to doctors to set up appointments.

Results Approach:

This approach focuses on the product or the outcome of one’s effort. It seeks to identify and evaluate what has been accomplished by an employee subject to appraisal. Management by objectives MBO) is usually regarded as the most appropriate format for using the results approach.

Performance appraisal is undertaken to serve a variety of management purposes. The controversy regarding which approach is best can only be resolved when you consider the reasons for doing the appraisals. Hence, the contingency approach has an overarching consideration here.

Six most-used modern performance methods:

  1. Human-Resource (Cost) Accounting Method

Human resource (cost) accounting method analyses an employee’s performance through the monetary benefits he/she yields to the company. It is obtained by comparing the cost of retaining an employee (cost to company) and the monetary benefits (contributions) an organization has ascertained from that specific employee.

When an employee’s performance is evaluated based on cost accounting methods, factors like unit-wise average service value, quality, overhead cost, interpersonal relationships, and more are taken into account. Its high-dependency on the cost and benefit analysis and the memory power of the reviewer is the drawback of human resources accounting method.

  1. Management by Objectives (MBO)

Management by objectives (MBO) is the appraisal method where managers and employees together identify, plan, organize, and communicate objectives to focus on during a specific appraisal period. After setting clear goals, managers and subordinates periodically discuss the progress made to control and debate on the feasibility of achieving those set objectives.

This performance appraisal method is used to match the overarching organizational goals with objectives of employees effectively while validating objectives using the SMART method to see if the set objective is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive.

  1. Psychological Appraisals

Psychological appraisals come in handy to determine the hidden potential of employees. This method focuses on analyzing an employee’s future performance rather than their past work. These appraisals are used to analyze seven major components of an employee’s performance such as interpersonal skills, cognitive abilities, intellectual traits, leadership skills, personality traits, emotional quotient, and other related skills.

Qualified psychologists conduct a variety of tests (in-depth interviews, psychological tests, discussions, and more) to assess an employee effectively. However, it is a rather slow and complex process and the quality of results is highly dependent on the psychologist who administers the procedure.

Specific scenarios are taken into account while performing psychological appraisal. For instance, the way in which an employee deals with an aggressive customer can be used to appraise his/her persuasion skills, behavioral response, emotional response, and more.

Advantages of psychological appraisals:

  • Extract measurable, objective data about not just an employee’s performance but also potential.
  • Can be deployed easily when compared with other performance appraisal methods.
  • Offer introverted or shy employees a platform to shine and prove their potential.
  1. Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS) bring out both the qualitative and quantitative benefits in a performance appraisal process. BARS compares employee performance with specific behavioral examples that are anchored to numerical ratings.

Each performance level on a BAR scale is anchored by multiple BARS statements which describe common behaviors that an employee routinely exhibits. These statements act as a yardstick to measure an individual’s performance against predetermined standards that are applicable to their role and job level.

The first step in BARS creation is generation of critical incidents that depict typical workplace behavior. The next step is editing these critical incidents into a common format and removing any redundancy. After normalization, the critical instances are randomized and assessed for effectiveness. Remaining critical incidents are used to create BARS and evaluate employee performance.

Advantages of using BARS:

  • Eliminate construct-irrelevant variance in performance appraisal ratings by emphasis more on specific, concrete, and observable behaviors.
  • Enjoy clear standards, improved feedback, accurate performance analysis, and consistent evaluation.
  • Decrease any chance for bias and ensure fairness throughout the appraisal process.
  1. Assessment Centre Method

The concept of assessment centre was introduced way back in 1930 by the German Army but it has been polished and tailored to fit today’s environment. The assessment centre method enables employees to get a clear picture of how others observe them and the impact it has on their performance. The main advantage of this method is that it will not only assess the existing performance of an individual but also predict future job performance.

Advantages of the assessment centre method:

  • Can be tailored to fit different roles, competencies, and business needs.
  • Enhance a participant’s knowledge, boost his/her thought process, and improve employee efficiency.
  • Offer an insight of the employee’s personality (ethics, tolerance, problem-solving skill, introversion/extroversion, adaptability, etc.)
  1. 360-Degree Feedback

360-degree feedback is a multidimensional performance appraisal method that evaluates an employee using feedback collected from the employee’s circle of influence namely managers, peers, customers, and direct reports. This method will not only eliminate bias in performance reviews but also offer a clear understanding of an individual’s competence.

This appraisal method has five integral components like:

  1. Self-appraisals
  2. Managerial reviews
  3. Subordinates Appraising manager (SAM)
  4. Peer reviews
  5. Customer or client reviews