Most of us can agree that criteria means that there is a standard by which something, in this case performance appraisal, can be judged or decided. The performance appraisal process is one of the prime responsibilities of team leaders. Typically, the Human Resources Department is responsible for the design, training of assessors, procedural implementation, review and maintenance, evaluation and monitoring the process. However the team leaders are responsible for the level of effectiveness that is achieved.
I believe that is important that the appraisal system and process embody these three attributes: measurability, observability and behavioral orientation.
Appraisal Criteria and Philosophy
It is critical that the criteria are based on the essential functions and the qualifications required for that position as stated in a current, accurate and valid job description. This is the information which sets the tone for selecting sound criteria and establishing a basis for good communications. The criteria used to assess the performance of individuals or group needs should be stated in measurable, observable, and/or behavioral terms. The appraisal instrument should address each of the essential functions found in the job description and the outcomes desired for the period of time in question.
The end result can be identified in terms of quantity, quality, time line, acceptable standards of writing (grammar/spelling/word usage/, etc.), research, organizational or professional procedures, etc. The term measurability is frequently criticized by professionals and managers because they say that the work they do is not measurable. If this is true, how does the organization know their contributions have value? We should not delude ourselves that some work is so esoteric that it can’t be measured.
The observable criterion must be met by witnessing and/or the gathering of descriptions of the work performance and comparing it with accepted professional standards of practice. The use of personality traits and terms which do not define the actual behavior such as attitudes, tact, tough-minded, timid, dominant, etc. are unacceptable. Actions, words, gestures, procedures, with which the person being appraised can identify, should be used so the individual can take the appropriate action to maintain or improve the work behavior in question.
Behavioral actions are observed, described, and can be changed or corrected with instruction or self-discipline. The change can be described in terminology which can provide an understandable and clear comparison between unacceptable and outstanding. When the appraisal interview is completed, both the appraiser and the associate should be able to describe orally and in writing the desirable outcomes in terms of measurable results and/or specific observable behaviors.
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