Outcomes are the most controversial performance dimension to be evaluated. Simply put, if the company is at a more basic stage of maturity in its assessment process, the assessor can assess the responsibilities and activities outlined in the job description on a given assessment scale.
Thus, a financial analyst could be evaluated on “Producing error-free and timely cash position reports” on a scale of 5 options, which evaluate their performance against what is expected of their position. In this case, the “results” portion of the performance appraisal ends up looking a lot like the “behaviours” or “competencies” portion.
In cases where the employee’s responsibilities are measured by indicators (for example, in the case above, the employee can be evaluated in relation to the quantity and quality of the reports produced), these indicators end up serving as an approximation of the employee’s performance and being used in this portion of the assessment.
Many companies, however, end up simplifying the performance evaluation process in just a section composed of competencies and behaviors, without a clear distinction between what is “result” and what is “behavior”. For these companies, managerial maturity is often lacking so that there are indicators (and especially the measurement infrastructure necessary to produce these indicators) sufficient to feed the performance management.
The Scale In Performance Evaluation
Another defining point of performance evaluation, mainly in its behavior component, is the evaluation scale to be used.
The Scale Has Three Major Variables To Define:
the scale to be used;
the label of each of the scale options;
the use of behavioral rules anchored in behaviors.
Some companies discuss the merits of an even scale (for example, a 4-point scale), as there is no “middle ground” on an even-numbered scale, as a way to avoid the central bias of ratings — which leads most raters to choose the central, or middle, options in their assessments.
So the first decision is to define whether there will be an even or odd number of options in the scale. Other companies discuss the merits of scales with more options versus scales with fewer options. The argument for using larger scales, such as the 5-option scale, is to make assessments more accurate as each rater can be more precise in differentiating their assessments.
A second important aspect is the label of the chosen options. In some cases, companies choose to leave options with numeric labels (eg 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).
Other companies choose to replace numbers with a scale of concepts (e.g., “far below expectations”, “below expectations”, “within expectations”, “above expectations” and “far above expectations”). Some companies still choose to keep numbers and concepts side by side.
This aspect leads us to a third list of options, related to the type of scale chosen. There are two main types of scales: relative scales and absolute scales.
Relative scales ask the rater to rate the person being assessed relative to something. It can be, for example, in a way relative to what is expected of the position (which we find quite efficient), as well as it can be in a way relative to their peers – that is, the evaluator evaluates the relative performance position of the person being evaluated in relation to the group (which we found far less effective as a rating scale label).
Absolute scales , on the other hand, ask the rater to rate his or her appraisee in an absolute way, without regard to what is expected or to other appraisees. This is the case of the scale “bad”, “average” and “good”).
More sophisticated companies can make use of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (or BARS – Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales ) which are nothing more than descriptions of the observable behaviors in each of the rating scale scores/concepts.
It would be like, in the case above, using the description “Think like an owner in most situations, defining strategies from start to finish and considering all possible risks and threats” linked to note 5 of the behavior “Think Like Owner”.
Behavioral rulers can increase the accuracy of the assessments being made, but they are very difficult to do without a huge time commitment and the help of specialist psychologists.