What about collecting data from other people to use on the performance appraisal form? Would it be a good idea to ask for information from a salesman's customers, or ask a manager's subordinates about her performance as a supervisor?

Other people may have far more information than the manager himself may have. Customers know more about a salesman's customer relations performance than the sales manager knows; subordinates know more about their boss's supervisory abilities than the boss's boss can hope to know.

But there are some ethical responsibilities involved here. Before calling a group of a salesman's customers to ask them about the quality of service he provides, or surveying a work team about how good a job their supervisor does in motivating and recognizing them, it's appropriate to get the individual involved inor at least aware ofthis data-collection effort.

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The best time to consider this is during the performance-planning discussion at the start of the year. In the discussions with the salesman and supervisor, the manager and the individual will agree that customer relations and supervisory skills will be two aspects of performance that are important to assess. It is logical for the manager to ask the individual. "Jack, how will I get the information I need to assess your performance in the customer relations area?" Or, "Marie, what do you think is the best way for me to find out about your supervisory skills?"

In each case, of course, the answer is obvious: Talk with my customers/ subordinates.

The manager is then able to ask, "How do you suggest that I do this?" The best approach for the customer data would probably be to ask them to fill out some simple survey. For the subordinates, a written survey would work, as might a couple of interviews or an invitation to submit a confidential narrative about the way the supervisor works with those on the team.

In both cases, make the individual responsible for gathering the data. The salesman should be the person to draft the customer service survey and, after the manager reviews and approves it, distribute it to a representative sample of his customers. The supervisor can discuss the need to get the manager the information needed for the supervisor's performance appraisal during a staff meeting.

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The key point is this: Make the individual responsible for collecting the data about his own performance.

I've asked the employee to write a self-appraisal. Should I use what the employee has written in the self-appraisal as part of the official appraisal I'm writing?

Only if what the employee has written exactly reflects your own view of the quality of her performance.

Some individuals have discovered that when they are called upon to write a self-appraisal, the boss is actually attempting to delegate the entire performance appraisal chore to the subordinate. In this case, the shrewd subordinate should write a glowing review of herself with all strengths praised and all flaws minimized, particularly if the appraisal rating will connect with compensation decisions or promotability.

The wise manager uses the subordinate's self-appraisal as only one nugget in a whole mine of performance information. However, if the employee has described her performance in a way that is particularly accurate and well written, there is no reason not to copy the employee's words into the official appraisal.

Should I put more emphasis on the results the individual achieved or on the way the person went about doing the job?

Put more emphasis on the results. Ultimately, getting the job done is more important than the way in which the results were brought about (assuming legal and ethical means were used).

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Some organizations provide for various objectives to be weighted, or allocate a certain number of points between the competencies portion of the performance appraisal instrument and the part that evaluates the individual's performance against goals, objectives, and key job responsibilities. If your organization provides for a specific weighting scheme, follow the procedures provided.

Most organizations, however, don't provide predetermined weightings. Managers have discretion about the amount of emphasis to place on different aspects of performance. If this is the case in your company, take advantage of the flexibility you've been provided. In your performance-planning discussion, let the individual know which portions of the performance appraisal form you're going to put the greatest emphasis on. If you feel that Harry should pay particular attention to his performance in one particular competency area, tell him at the start of the year that that competency is going to count more than any of the others.

It's not a good idea to try to assign specific percentages or to allocate one hundred points to various parts of the form. While this approach might seem logical, it ends up forcing managers and employees to make trivial distinctions. Worse, it leads to making the determination of an employee's final rating into an arithmetic problem.

A better approach is simply to indicate high, medium, and low when you are talking about the relative importance of various elements to be assessed.

 
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