Performance Appraisals Influence Of Employee Attitudes

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If people read a limited number of articles on Performance Appraisal (PA), they will end up discovering that, huge arguments are kept with regard to PA. People may end up with conclusions that vary from, PA being "so intrinsically defective that it could almost be impossible to perfect it". This as a result this could end up being the reason for an organization to end up in bad conditions that may eventually be the cause of its demise.

This research takes a deeper look at PA as a whole, a few current as well as previous views on the process of giving feedback(appraising) will be revealed, which include the defining of traditional and developmental approaches. The most frequently used PA techniques will be taken into account as well.

Later on, the author discusses the attitudes of employees and their behavior and existence, how they are formed and which of the particular attitudes and behaviors tend to be desirable ones that can, raise company performance. The effect of job related attitudes, satisfaction or dissatisfaction of jobs, will also be covered to perceive what are the pros and cons of a PA system, so as to make it easier to, understand the basic necessity of PA.

In the final stages, the paper shall focus on, the effects of PA on different attitudes and at what time it would be appropriate to make use of which PA procedure to arrive at an anticipated target (attitude or behavior). Deliberations with regard to PA application will be taken into consideration to reduce any amount of ambiguity that may be in the minds of the reader.


Although PA as a unique management system dates back from the 1940s, in a broader sense, "the application of appraisal is a very antique art", appraisals come in the category of really old and long lasting professions.3 Through it citizens/society or the labor force are inclined to evaluate themselves along with others too.

Describing PA

In an organizational setting, PA could be described as a formally planned communication linking a employee and employer, which generally take the form of a sporadic interview once a year or more often, in which the performance of the concerned staff/employee with regard to their work is examined and discussed, along with a vision to identify the pros and cons including the likelihood for improvement and skill advancement. PA has been portrayed by Moorhead and Griffin (1992) as "the process of evaluating work behaviors by measurement and comparison to previously established standards, recording the results, and communicating them back to the employee. It is an activity between an organization's manager and his/her employee."4

Performance Appraisal Systems (PAS) started in various companies as simplistic methods to decide whether an employee's salary was justified or not. With the passage of time, different studies exposed with the purpose of pay rates as presumed before, were not the only factor that could have an influence on employee performance.3 Time proved that additional issues, like self-esteem and morale, may well also have a key impact. This ended up with the progressive rejection of importance of PA on the outcomes of rewards, and in the mid 90's, the prospective of PA as a means for motivation and development started to get acknowledged as another aspect with time.

Appraisals within a company cause severe problems when they are carried out without any set of laws. If carried out in such a manner it can end up damaging the company's working environment and be the cause for the reduction in the proper output level, it may also can up being the cause of both legal and ethical troubles.3 Managers need to be conscious all the time of their doings and which consequences could it bring about when appraising performance.

Within a large number of organizations, the link of the results of appraisal, have an impact on remuneration in some way. To be precise, the more finer the employee performs the more chances of him/her getting pay increments, bonuses \or even promotions. On the other hand the employee whose performance is low might end up getting some advice on how to improve himself or herself or in more severe cases may end up in trouble by being demoted, getting a reduction in monthly/annual pay or even being dismissed from the company.3

Oberg has listed goals of PA programs, which are as follows: to assist supervisors to perform a coaching job in a more improved manner; to inspire the concerned employees by providing appraisal (feedback) on their performance; to make available the necessary data to help in administrative decisions like, increases or decreases in salary, removal from duty or even changing of working areas; to help pick up an organization's improvement by identifying the staff with promotion prospective; and finally to set up a study and indication base for human resources' decisions.5

PA is an ingredient of a performance management that needs to be taken into consideration that "includes activities to ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner."6 When looked at carefully a variety of practices are involved in performance management besides those of PA. For example, performance management is involved in, performance improvement of employees, training and cross training, performance development, career development/coaching.7

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There are researchers as mentioned earlier, who believe that Performance Appraisals (PAs) have never shown to be a reason for performance improvement. Rather they believe that PAs are used in organizations today only for the documentation of poor performance (a step that leads to the terminating process).8

Traditional vs. Developmental PA Methods

Scholars have mentioned that, there have been two methods to PA. These include the traditional and the developmental methods. Traditional method's basic concern was in general with the organization as a whole, which is involved with the past performance. On the other side the developmental method, considers the staff as individuals along with being a bit more constructive by looking forward through the use of setting goals.9

The traditional method of PA used for various purposes, such as promotion, feedback to employees, reward decisions etc... On the other hand the developmental method to PA brings about additional purposes, like providing the organization or company staff the chance to officially specify their direction and ambition, presenting the concerned organizational interest in staff/employee improvement, and to provide the employees who are literally trying to perform well, with satisfaction and encouragement.9

PA Methods

There are various methods of Performance Appraisals (PAs), such as Annual Confidential reports (ACRs), essay methods, Management By Objectives (MBO), etc... 5

Every PA procedure has, its own mixture of strengths and weaknesses, thus they ought to be used in relevance to the desired goals to make the procedure used more effective.

PA software has been used in different parts of the world. It is also referred to as electronic performance monitoring.11 It tends to reduce the time to get through the appraisal process, which eventually helps management of organizations save time and money.12 But this method has also come under a lot of argument that it is not correct as, it stops the communication link between the employer and employee, due to which many term this process as ineffective and a waste of money and time.13

Employee Attitudes and Behaviors

What is an attitude?

An attitude may be described as "a learned predisposition to respond in consistently favorable or unfavorable manner with respect to a given object" (Kreitner and Kinicki, 1992).14 Moorhead and Griffin (1992) suggest two views of attitudes:

Dispositional view implies that attitudes are steady dispositions toward an object. Putting this in mind, attitudes have three fundamental components: influence (affecting sense toward the object), cognition (the opinion of the information about the object) along with the purpose (an planned behavior toward the object).

Situational vision contends that attitudes develop from publicly constructed realities.4

Attitudes on the whole are formed through the passage of time that could, be changed and might be influenced through an administrator/manager. A tool that is used for the initiation of attitude change is PA. However, there is an important finding that states: a result of research of 5,000 middle-aged male employees portrays that their job attitudes as a whole seem to be very stable over a period of five years.14

Job-associated attitudes

The way Employees interact or their attitude that they depict is very essential for an organization, as employee interaction and attitude tends to show the way to the preferred behaviors. Moorhead and Griffin (1992) talk about two main job-related attitudes, that are, the level of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. They describe this with following in mind, "a person's attitude toward his/ her job. If the attitude is positive, the employees under the spot light are said to be satisfied. Dissatisfaction on the other hand comes into being, when the attitude is negative."4

These attitudes tend to take place due to the following three factors. The first factor being, organizational factors, for example, promotion opportunities, the work itself, working conditions and pay, the second factor involves grouping factors that comprise of, coworkers and supervisor; while the third factor focuses on personal factors for example, contributory benefits, needs, and ambitions.4

The attitudes of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are extremely crucial, as both have the tendency to persuade how good employees, and therefore as a result an organization perform. In general the attitude of Job satisfaction tends to lead towards the desired course of action like, low absenteeism rate of the staff. Whereas if employee attitude leads to job dissatisfaction, that infers to the fact that, the rate of employee absenteeism, increases.4

Moorhead and Griffin (1992), mention additional attitudes that are essential and work related. These comprise of Involvement and Commitment. Involvement describes a "person's willingness as an organizational 'citizen' to go beyond the standard demands of the job. On the other hand Commitment may be said to be "the concerned individual's feelings of identification with and dedication to the organization,"4

The Influence Performance Appraisals can have on Employees' Attitudes

Previously the author has mentioned several types and techniques of PA, along with the attitudes that an employee may possess. This portion of the paper tends to focus on presenting how appraising performance can have, an influential effect on both the employees' attitudes and behavior.

Archer North offer suggestions that state that just individual recognition (appraising performance) alone, could end up leading to a higher rate of job satisfaction and reduce the absenteeism. People the whole tend to prefer negative feedback rather than no feedback/recognition at all."3

With the help of traditional methods of appraisals, managers/supervisors rate the performance of the concerned employee annually. This usually tends to reflect the recent events, which turn out to be a huge disadvantage.15 As managers lack communication with the concerned employees during the year, and this tends to mess things up. This usually causes the concerned employee being faced with the complete list of the flaws he/she made during the year, which also creates an uncomfortable situation for the concerned employee.13

With the due passage of time the 360-degree feedback system was introduced. Dezenzo and Robbins (2002) describe the 360-degree process as "an appraisal devise that seeks performance feedback from such sources as oneself, bosses, peers, team members, customers, and suppliers has become very popular amongst contemporary organizations".15

The consequences of specific PA procedures may have on employee attitudes

The correct or appropriate decision on what PA method is to be used is vital for the rest of the procedure.

For the sake of employee motivation through the use of giving them feedback with regard to their work, work-standards or the MBO approach could be superior quality picks. But this is possible only with the involvement of real participation, as only then would it be able to lead towards internal commitment to improved performance.5

The MBO method of PA could, defeat a few of the problems that arise after supposing that the employees' traits needed for the job at hand's achievement can be dependably known and calculated. The MBO technique tends to center its focus on actual outcomes. As a result this method might provide a sense of autonomy, satisfaction and achievement for the employees. On the contrary this method could also be counterproductive by leading to impractical hope concerning what can and can't be rationally done.3 Time has revealed that through the setting of goals we can achieve a major milestone in employee motivation. Goals are able to inspire employees' effort, center attention, boost determination, and encourage them to figure out enhanced ways to work.18

To show what effects PA may have on employee attitudes, a study which concentrated on Matthew effect is to be used. Matthew effect is supposed to take place where the concerned staff tends to keep getting the same appraisal results, year after year. Meaning that, their appraisal results tend to become self-fulfilling: if they have performed well, they will carry on to do well; if they have done poorly, they will carry on to do poorly. This study that concentrated on the Mathew Effect discovered, a degree of frustration escalating due to biased PA.

If we apply the Matthew effect to the workforce then we would be able to observe that a majority of good performers would end up happy with the appraisal system, while a majority of low performers would feel the system corrupt. When employees get a good appraisal or who themselves are high performers, the answer that you are likely to get to a question like "does your supervisor listen to you and does he/she support you?", would be yes. On the other hand if the same question is asked from low performers a majority would answer no to the same question. When looked at carefully it's very vital to give the low performers a chance to improve their appraisal results. If this chance of improvement isn't allowed then there is a very severe defect in the appraisal system as a whole.19

Many authors have the opinion, out of which Heathfield is one, that, employees usually turn defensive when their performance is under assessment. Differences about involvement and performance ratings can produce a argument ridden condition that can go on for months to come.16

Through studies conducted by the author, negative feedback from PAs can be a cause of the employees' motivational level to stand at zero which may cause the employees to perform worse. It is usually that staff which tend to comprise a level of high self-esteem to be able to get inspired through criticisms that, they take positively to develop their overall performance.5 A study conducted by Baron states that, harsh condemnation, that tends to be inexplicit, unjust or sternly presented - will tend to lead to troubles like rage, bitterness, strain and conflict within the workplace, along with an eventual rise in the resistance for betterment, refutation of difficulties, and inferior performance.20

With the view above mentioned implications it needs to curtain these implications very seriously. Here it could be said that the appraising personality delegate his/her powers to a person who uses the process of appraisal as an opportunity of how things can be done in a better manner which would also eventually improve the overall working style or performance of the whole company or organization at hand.

According to Levy, Cawley and Foti "The traditional top-down approach to PA has been targeted time and again for not being able to hold a steady/satisfactory pace with the progress toward more participative companies or organizations of the last decade. The impact of this is that many organizations have had to adopt newer PAS which end up utilizing numerous feedback sources, the "360-degree feedback systems" is a good example. Therefore the author believes it's essential that the appraiser/appraisers need to be well-informed and dependable. When this happens, only then we can end up with better chances that the employees tend to overall visualize the concerned appraisal process as accurate and fair. If this ends up being the case then, there is a chance that employees will tend to acknowledge and even confirm their acceptance with regard to the evaluator's appraisal and as a result will increase their readiness to improve for the better.21

Different research studies have shown the likelihood of employees to feeling more gratified with their feedback result which we often term as the "appraisal result" if the concerned staff discussed here is provided with the opportunity to freely express and tends to even present their performance with the concerned party. When done, the chances of the concerned employees improving their performance for the better increases along with their potential to meet future performance, as the discussion with the concerned parties also increases the chances of the workers know what is required from them.22

Standards of comparison need to be present. As employees consider it essential to find out the performance of their duties and the area that asks for improvement or in other words the areas in which improvement is required. Essentially at this point we need to place the thought in mind that appraisals are not associated with condemnation (criticism). On the whole the fact could prove vital, which is to make clear the significance of finishing responsibilities inside the suggested timelines or even through the change in procedure if required of doing a task, to get the work done correctly. Regrettably, many PAs end up frustrating the concerned employees by the accumulation of additional responsibilities to what seems to be an already overloaded program.23

Anyone who is involved in giving PAS needs to be conscious of those staff that are always in the hunt of feedback. This declaration as revealed by Larson, whilst low performing employees pursue to get feedback from his/her immediate boss or even the superior at unusual times, when the concerned party to give feedback is not really ready to give an accurate or frank assessment. At the time when such a situation arises a manager tends to provide encouragement. The problem tends to arise at the appraisal time when the employee tends to recall all the encouragement given by the appraiser before the appraisal. As if the appraisal is negative the employee, considers the appraiser untrustworthy and therefore could consider his/her appraisal as being out of track. This in turn could get the appraisers' in a fix that, might then force them to defend themselves, and could give a false appraisal that makes the employee satisfied. This incident could be simply avoided if, the appraiser informs the, "feedback-seeker" appraise to appear at another time when the appraiser is free.24

Considerations that could provide a link of performance appraisal with regard to compensation

Those scholars, who believe in PA, as bring about big considerations that ask whether PA ought to be linked to compensation.

The main blow against the linking of PA from reward decisions is the thought that this link might end up building a frightening and a theoretically disciplinary system.3 Another confrontation as described by Archer North, is that the linkage of compensation tends to dissolve the essence progressive appraisals. This can be proved through the fact that a majority of employees/workers would not admit their work. Specifically when, their contract renewal date is just around the corner.3

One should never forgo the fact that the rater feels a sense of tension or nervousness when they have to do an appraisal. Specially, if both the appraiser and appraise have good terms with each other outside work. As both the appraiser and appraise's relation can be destroyed in the event of a negative appraisal being given. This itself could create enough damage to the workplace environment that the productivity of the organization as a whole could be hampered.3

Although all this portrays is that appraisals should not be linked to compensation, there are scholars who believe that the link should be there. Their thought follows the motion that there is a need to have a smooth system where one can fairly link compensation. They tend to believe that PA is a unique and one of its kind system, through which they can end up giving compensations to all in a fair and just manner. Many employees/workers who tend to get compensations properly, consider PA as a trustworthy way to get their due compensations.3 This has further been acknowledged through a research by both Bannister an Balkin where they found out that appraisees' feel more comfortable when appraisals have a direct link to compensation.25 While a study conducted by some scholars had the following finding; "Using a sample of more than 15,000 employees, we found that pay satisfaction is the highest when performance pay is tied to the employee's performance and the lowest when there are no performance appraisals in organizations, even if there is performance pay."26

Conclusion & Recommendations

PAS are useful rather than useless as some scholars mention. Though with proper care and time given to understand the system which, involves, proper planning and using the adequate techniques to, get the system (PA) to bear fruit, by maintaining a proper long term understanding of the organizational environment and the organization as a whole.

While in the process of this research the author was faced with vast views upon PA and its different aspects. There was vast material that was in contrary to giving PA a good image. This as a whole tends to prove that PA is very complex process and is also very difficult to do correctly.

Special care should be taken when applying the Performance Appraisal System. As, different/relevant techniques can, differentiate between the system becoming a success or failure, special care has to be taken on how to approach the situation at hand. On the other hand, to enhance the usual lack of communication the PA process should take place more frequently rather than the frequently used Annual system. The more frequent the appraisals, the better chances of the performance becoming better. The PA system should also be considered as a way to enhance worker performance and motivation rather than only being a tool being used as a guideline with regard to compensation along with promotions or demotions.