DA14 - Performance appraisal an obstacle to training and...

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Performance appraisal: an obstacle to training and development? John P. Wilson University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK Steven Western Training Manager, Independent Hospital, South Yorkshire, UK Introduction We all constantly appraise, consciously or unconsciously, objectively or subjectively. When we appraise something we rate its worth, usefulness and the degree to which it displays various qualities. We appraise ourselves and other people, we appraise behaviour, personality and systems. Organisational appraisal systems are an attempt to formalise these activities for the benefit of both the individual and the organisation (Torrington and Hall, 1991, p. 480). To appraise is part of the human condition and was formally applied in the sphere of work activity ‘‘ . . . as early as the Third Century AD (when) SinYu, an early Chinese philosopher, criticised a biased rater employed by the Wei Dynasty’’ (Murphy and Cleveland, 1995, p. 3). Appraisal was also used by Robert Owen in his New Lanark textile mills during the 1800s; and during the First World War to assess the performance of officers. Over the past 30 years, performance appraisal has achieved a higher profile in the human resource function of most organisations. The term ‘‘performance appraisal’’ has generally meant the annual interview that takes place between the manager and the employee to discuss the individual’s job performance during the previous 12 months and the compilation of action plans to encourage improved performance. Moon (1993, p. 8) succinctly defined appraisal ‘‘ . . . as a formal documented system for the periodic review of an individual’s performance’’. Performance appraisal is part of the larger process of performance management. Marchington and Wilkinson (1996) describe it as a cyclical process: determining performance expectations; supporting performance; reviewing and appraising performance; and, finally, managing performance standards. In the health sector, performance management may have the following stages (Weightman, 1996): 1 Job descriptions are written, agreed and reviewed regularly. 2 Objectives for the work group are taken from the organisation’s strategic objectives. 3 Individual objectives are derived in turn from the work group objectives, and jointly formulated between the appraiser and appraisee. 4 A development plan devised by the manager and the individual to meet personal objectives. The emphasis is on management support and coaching. 5 An assessment of objectives with ongoing formal reviews on a regular basis. 6 An annual assessment that affects reward. Performance appraisal can be used for numerous purposes including: reward; discipline; coaching; counselling; negotiating improvements in performance; improving the work environment; raising morale; clarifying expectations and duties; improving upward and downward communications; reinforcing management control; helping validate selection decisions; providing information to support HR activities; identifying development opportunities; improving perceptions of
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