Performance appraisal has limitations

Dear Editor,

I have previously written on reports about the processes used for the selection of the Deputy Chief Election Officer; among these processes was the use of the Performance Appraisal System. There is no doubt that a good Performance Appraisal system could make significant inputs in the processes of staff selection and promotion. However, the difficulties, constraints, human frailties and foibles which almost ‘naturally’ impinge upon the ‘reliability’ of any Performance Appraisal System must not be overlooked.

There is general merit, at least conceptually, in the proposition that “past performance is a good indicator of future performance”, but that depends largely on the relevance, similarity and transferability of the relevant skills/competencies/ other demands of the respective jobs. And, these are not always on all fours. Would you, for example, promote John, an employee who is an excellent, experienced accounting clerk but who is taciturn, prefers to be left alone to do his work and does not relate well with peers to become a Supervisor as opposed to Tom, who, while not necessarily as good a clerk, is empathetic and has good ‘interpersonal skills’. There is also the variability of the competence and ‘motivation’ of the ‘appraisers’ to do a good job of conducting and reporting on the staff appraisal.

Performance Appraisal is ‘retrospective’ while Staff Selection is ‘prospective and anticipative’. Although it can be helpful in Staff selection, Performance Appraisal is essentially intended to support a number of other management processes including:

●  Formal ‘motivational feedback’ between supervisors and supervisees.

●  A formal record of the level of performance and demonstrated potential of the employee during the appraisal period

●  Formal Counselling and ‘Merit Increments’ in organizations that award performance-related salary increases.

The foregoing are some of the reasons for my indicating as strongly as I did in my recent letter in the media on the subject: “Effective Staff Selection involves more than Qualifications & Experience e.g. oral and written communications, interpersonal skills, motivation, supervision and management”; these must be formally assessed and tested through appropriate selection exercises.

Leaders, managers, administrators, CEO’s are all urged to be mindful of these universal management advice and practices.

Yours faithfully,

Nowrang Persaud

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