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The purpose of the performance appraisal, its implementation, and its meaning in the organisational context.

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Fairly appraised.? This essay attempts to look at the purpose of the performance appraisal, its implementation, and its meaning in the organisational context. Some common methods of appraisal are examined and their implications for appraisee perceived fairness discussed. Labour process theory's conception of appraisal as an artefact of management control is included for the doubt it casts over the any appraisal ever being truly fair. More recent appraisal formats such as peer-appraisal and 360-degree appraisal provide a partial response to the charge of management hegemony. Ultimately framed within wage effort bargain they however cannot transcend the control of management. Appraisal may be, in some instances, perceived as fair. It is argued that perceived fairness depends on employees' acceptance of management's prerogative to manage them. Fairness is a relative concept much like goodness. One can only know something is good by knowing and comparing something that is bad. For the employee, appraisal can be fair if they compare it with something less fair. Equally, appraisal can be unfair if it is compared to something more fair. Consistency over time and population in appraisal practice is thus necessary for the appraisal procedure to be perceived as fair. The purposes of performance appraisal include: determining merit pay, collecting information about employee competence, communicating organisational objectives, setting individual goals, determining promotion prospects, justifying dismissal of under-performers, and motivating employees among many others The general classification is of 'judge and counsellor' (Sisson & Storey, 1999) ...read more.


Traits are however difficult to define, the subjective view of the appraiser may determine the meaning of each trait. Traits even once defined are very difficult to identify in individuals as they may manifest in very different ways. This is compounded by the problems of definition, leading to severe risks of procedural and distributive injustice (Flint, 1999). Potentially, the employee perceives the appraisal as entirely arbitrary in judgement and pointless in counsel as traits are not easily defined or identified due to the subjectivity issues discussed above. Perceived fairness in the trait based method appraisal is more conspicuously absent than in even the MBO based appraisal. Appraisal based on behaviours has been seen as a more objective and fair method. Behaviour encompasses both the manifestation of traits and achievement of objectives in context. Behavioural systems also incorporate comparison between an ideal behaviour and the employee's actual behaviour. This should result in greater objectivity on the part of the appraiser, as each employee will be evaluated against the same criteria, unlike in trait or MBO approaches. Counselling also, should be seen as more productive as desired behaviours can be clearly articulated allowing methods of producing these behaviours to be devised. Could behaviour based appraisals be perceived fair? In some instances perhaps, contingent however on how the behaviours are determined, specified, and monitored. ...read more.


In 360-degree appraisal superiors, subordinates and occasionally customers or suppliers all appraise the employee. This method gives a rounded picture of performance and should contribute to an employees understanding of how various constituencies perceive them. Perceived fairness in 360-degree appraisal is likely to be higher than in other methods, this may be undermined if there are conflicting reports of performance however. Both peer appraisal and 360-degree feedback tend to be conducted on management prescribed bases of performance. The participatory element is extended beyond the appraisee and out into the environment. This serves to deepen the legitimisation of management control and decision-making. The superior only appraisal may be more biased towards management than either peer- or 360- appraisal, however the contention of the labour process theorists is that the artefact of appraisal is the control mechanism. For as long as management rhetoric shapes the formulation of appraisals, they will be inherently fairer to management's interests than to those of employees. This essay has tried to show how appraisal fairness is dependent on appraisee subjectivity. It has shown how certain methods of appraisal can appear to the employee as fair. Further, an attempt has been made to briefly outline the argument against appraisals being a power neutral instrument of rational management. Modern developments in appraisal techniques have been shown to enhance perceived fairness whilst at the same time reinforcing the validity of management's control. ...read more.

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