Appraisal and 360-degree Feedback

A Definition

Appraisal. A word to make anyone suddenly worry about the security of their job or pay packet. But what is this thing called appraisal, and what on earth is 360-degree feedback?

This article aims to clear up some of the myths surrounding the subject and show that appraisal is not nearly as scary as one might think. In fact, far from being merely a meaningless form-filling exercise, appraisal can be an invaluable tool in maintaining a happy and productive workplace. It is not a instrument for managers to find fault with your work, but a medium through which you can identify your own strengths and areas for development. Perhaps the reason for so much trepidation and mistrust of appraisal lies in the fact that it often tends to be done poorly and in an unstructured way.

One of the most common purposes of appraisal is to enable some kind of assessment to be made of an employee. This may be against some pre-set objectives, or it may be in terms of ratings on job competencies. If performance appraisal is to be constructive and useful, there must be something in it for both the appraisers and the employees being appraised.

Feedback is a key factor in this perception of equity. It is also worth considering the real aims of the exercise. Appraisal feedback sessions can provide an opportunity for constructive dialogue with managers and may help in identifying training needs. The results of an appraisal can also be used to ensure the fair distribution of rewards, be they financial rewards such as bonuses, or non-financial perks.

  •   Competency-based appraisal - A competency is an observable skill or ability to complete a task or job successfully. Although the concept of the 'competency' was perhaps one of the most over-used notions in personnel management during the early 1990's, it can be an essential part to a thorough and accurate appraisal. Once a company has established the key abilities or attributes that are necessary for effective employee performance, they may be incorporated into the appraisal system to make assessment more objective. The real strength of such a system is not in comparing people with each other in a competitive way, but analysing the progress of an employee in their own sense. This then directs attention to those areas where they are excelling or where skills may be improved.

  •   360-degree feedback - The traditional idea of appraisal as simply a manager assessing the performance of an employee has been overtaken by a more holistic approach incorporating views from many angles. Multi-level, multi-source appraisal - also known as 360-degree feedback - consists of assessments made of an individual (the 'target') by subordinates, peers and superiors plus, in some cases, clients. It also usually requires the person being appraised to do a self-rating.

  • Organizations are becoming increasingly knowledge-based, and the pace of technological change has demanded an adaptive and flexible workforce. The use of appraisal can help to turn an organization in confusion into an effective and focused collection of personnel. After all, it is the people that are a company's most valuable assets.

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