Numerous methods exist for gauging an employee’s performance, and each provides strengths and weaknesses for given environments. The following outlines some of the more commonly used methods, as well as some recently developed ones that can be useful for various feedback situations:
Graphic rating scales: This method involves assigning some form of rating system to pertinent traits. Ratings can be numerical ranges (1-5), descriptive categories (below average, average, above average), or scales between desirable and undesirable traits (poor ↔ excellent). This method can be simple to setup and easy to follow, but is often criticized for being too subjective, leaving the evaluator to define broad traits such “Leadership ability” or “Conformance with standards” (Kulik, 2004).
Behavioral methods: A broad category encompassing several methods with similar attributes. These methods identify to what extent an employee displays certain behaviors, such as asking a customer to identify the usefulness of a sales representative’s recommendation. While extremely useful for jobs where behavior is critical to success, identifying behaviors and standards for employees can often be very time consuming for an organization (Kulik, 2004).
2+2: A relative newcomer in performance appraisal methodology, the 2+2 feedback system demonstrates how appraisals can be used primarily for improvement purposes. By offering employees two compliments and two suggestions for improvement focused around high-priority areas, creators Douglas and Dwight Allen suggest that organizations can become “more pleasant, more dynamic, and more productive” (Formula 2+2, 2004). If the goal of the performance appraisal is employee improvement, this system can provide significant benefits; however, if the goals are more akin to compensation changes and rankings, the system provides little benefit.
Appraisal methodologies depend greatly on the type of work being done; an assembly worker will require a considerably different appraisal system than a business consultant. Significant planning will be required to develop appropriate methods for each business unit in an organization in order to obtain maximum performance towards the appraisal goals.