Performance Appraisal Methods

A formal performance review must be conducted each year consisting of discussion(s) between the supervisor and the staff member and a written record of the appraisal.  Discussions should occur more frequently if needed, such as when changes in the job require the assignment of new responsibilities, when new objectives are developed, or if the staff member requires a more structured approach in order to encourage improved performance.  The formal performance appraisal methods should not be a surprise to either party!

Performance Appraisal MethodsPerformance Appraisal Methods: Criteria for Performance Rating

Exceeds Job Expectation

This staff member’s performance is superior and consistently exceeds the requirements of the job.  This exemplary high performance level is also seen in demanding situations and circumstances.

He/she excels in the accomplishment of all responsibilities, tasks, and objectives, having performed with the utmost excellence in each and all objectives of job performance on a sustained basis.  He or she is widely recognized as an expert because of his or her own exceptional knowledge and authority.

The decisions and recommendations of this person are sound and they are frequently related to the highest priority and most complex aspect of the position’s responsibilities.

This staff member demonstrates a thorough understanding of the job, frequently perceives aspects of the position which are seldom perceived by others, and initiates, plans for, and accomplishes many innovative and valuable objectives for the unit/department/University. Use of this rating category should be used sparingly to avoid reducing the value of the next rating below.

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Meets Job Expectation

The performance of this staff member fully meets the standards and requirements of the job. This staff member’s performance is satisfactory and exceeds the requirements of the job in one or more areas and meets the requirements of the job in all other areas.  This is a consistently competent performer.  It is important to keep in mind that “meets job expectations” is the standard and most employees performance will fall into this category.

The performance of the high priority and most complex responsibilities is accomplished with competence and thoroughness.  The staff member is steady, reliable, and competent, and work is accomplished with a minimum of supervision.

The decisions and recommendations of this person are usually sound and are related o important and structured areas of the position’s responsibilities.

The staff member usually takes initiative and accomplishes worthwhile objectives on behalf of the unit/department/University.

Partially Meets Job Expectations

The “partially meets job expectations” rating is for those aspects of performance which may require some additional training and development or for performance in certain areas that is not consistent.  Staff member shows capability, but in a variable manner.

Either performance of job functions is lacking or for the staff member to maintain job performance level and achieve the desired position objectives, regular mentoring and coaching is necessary in the under-achieved areas of the job.

This staff member may occasionally originate worthwhile objectives but also fail to meet all of the objectives of this position which are established by performance standards.  Although the staff member’s performance is not considered completely unacceptable, there is room for improvement of work performance.

Does Not Meet Job Expectations

Performance consistently does not meet the requirements and acceptable standards of the position.

This staff member’s performance is below the normal expectations for a substantial number of the aspects of the job.  Portions of the job expectations/objectives are either not met or are met only with a minimum level of acceptability.

The decisions and recommendations of this staff member are often not sound, and when undertaken, are usually in the routine or structured areas of the job, and may negatively impact organizational or operational objectives.

There is a clear need to make a concentrated effort to improve the staff member’s performance.  The staff member may need additional training or is not capable of assuming responsibilities necessary to attain minimum standards.  If performance does not improve in a reasonable period of time, Labor Relations should be consulted for formal action.

Performance Appraisal Methods: Guidelines for Building a Complete and Fair Appraisal

  1. Frequent Communication – Planned frequent communication and feedback on job performance helps overcome fear during the actual formal performance appraisal session.
  2. Judge Your Own Performance – Evaluate your own performance before you evaluate the staff member’s performance.  Are you responsible for their good or bad performance?
  3. Warm-Up Period – Take the time to develop rapport and discuss the advantages of an appraisal.Review the information on hand to measure the staff member’s performance.
  4. Be Candid & Be Specific – Candidly get right to the point in discussing a staff member’s performance on the job.  Honesty and candor will result in a big payoff for you and the staff member.
  5. Build on Strengths – This approach enables the staff member to work toward their greatest potential.The staff member must use their strengths to accomplish a job; they cannot use their weaknesses.
  6. Be a Positive Listener – Listen attentively.  Non-verbal communication often says more than words.
  7. Judge Performance, Not the Person – Judge a staff member’s performance and results.  Don’t judge personality or personal traits.

Performance Appraisal Methods: Avoid Evaluation Errors

Though supervisors try to be objective in performance appraisal methods, personal biases manifest themselves in the use of performance rating scales.  These are often referred to as rating errors and include:

Halo Error

Managers tend to generalize from one aspect of a person’s performance to other aspects of it, causing a halo error.  If a staff member performs very well in one area of the job, the manager may rate the overall performance as outstanding (Performance Level 5) even though performance in other areas is not at this level.

Recency Error

Recency error occurs when the rating is based mainly on performance near the end of the review period, positively or negatively.  The rating in this case may not accurately reflect the entire job performance.

Contrast Error

Contrast error occurs in performance appraisal methods when a manager rates two or more staff members who differ substantially in level of performance.  For example, a staff member who is performing at a competent level (Performance Level 3) may, in comparison, with a marginal staff member, be rated Performance Level 5.  This error could work in the opposite direction: the competent staff member may be rated at below standards (Performance Level 2) because of the contrast with a distinguished level of performance.

Constancy Error

This occurs when managers use only a portion of the rating scale in accordance with their own set of performance standards.  Lenient raters concentrate their ratings at the top end of the scale.  Other raters show a central tendency error, believing no one is really unacceptable or outstanding, and therefore never using these extreme ratings though they may be applicable.

Morale Building Error

This error occurs when managers give above standards ratings (Performance Level 4 or 5) to increase the morale or to avoid causing low morale when performance does not justify it.  Meeting standards of the job should not imply a negative rating or “average” performance.  It should indicate that the staff member did the job as expected of him or her as established at the beginning of the review period.

Generosity Error

This occurs when managers give above standards ratings (Performance Level 5) to increase the amount of merit increase to be granted.  It is not fair to the staff member or other staff members and it creates a level of expectation for future performance appraisal methods.