Chapter 1: Scope of Thesis

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1 Chapter 1: Scope of Thesis 1.0 Introduction Performance can be defined as the record of outcomes produced on a specified job function or activity during a specified time period (Bernardin et al, 1995). Performance refers to how well reports are written, problems solved etc. The level of performance indicated or implied by workers behaviour or activities is determined by comparing them either to the behaviour of others or to a standard (a performance expectation established by authority). In order to ensure that employees are performing at the required level to meet organizational (public and private) goals, an appropriate performance appraisal system must be in place. Performance appraisal refers to identification of measurement factors or criteria against which to evaluate performance, measurement of performance against such criteria, review of performance levels by individuals and development of subsequent performance (Carroll and Schneier, 1982). Winston and Creamer 1997, views performance appraisals as an organizational system comprising deliberate process for determining staff accomplishments to improve employees effectiveness. It can also be considered as a measure to evaluate and influence employee s job-related attributes, behaviour and outcomes. Even though there are so many views defining performance appraisal the most important is whether it is effective. Performance Appraisal System effectiveness refers to the precision of 1

2 observation on achievement and ratings, as well as the capacity of the performance appraisal function to enhance the ratee s future performance (Steers and Lee 1981: cited in Landy et al, 1983). An effective appraisal system involves retaining good performers, removing or training poor performers (Roberts, 1992). Such system is required at all levels in an organization from file clerk to chief executive officer. Once each position s contribution to the overall goals of the organization is assessed and each person has performed a certain level, performance appraisal system can be tied to reward and other personnel decisions. For an appraisal system to be effective there should be two basic systems operating in conjunction: an evaluation system and a feedback system (Cummings and Schwab, 1973). Both systems have their main aims. The main aim of the evaluation system is to identify the performance gap (if any). This gap is the shortfall that occurs when performance does not meet the standard set by the organization as acceptable. The main aim of the feedback system is to inform the employee about the quality of his or her performance, as well as the rater receiving feedback from employees about job problems. In order to get the best results and to have an effective performance appraisal system, the criteria used in the appraisal system should emerge from the job itself. They should be related to the job requirements and any goals set must be understood and accepted by both the rater and the employee. The more job related and measurable the performance criteria is, the greater the likelihood that the worker will receive a meaningful, fair and comprehensive appraisal. 2

3 Measures of performance are classified as objective or subjective, where the objective measures focus on output or results such as number of people served, number of units delivered etc. Subjective measures require the use of personal judgment on the part of the rater as it is done either by comparing one person to another or by using a rating scale. Based on these measures it is important to have raters who are fair-minded as the effectiveness of the appraisal depends heavily on the appraiser. When using a subjective measure of performance, there exist some form of bias on the part of the rater, which can affect the outcome of the appraisal. This research is therefore a study about the performance appraisal system in the Public Service of Belize and whether it is providing valid evaluations. It intends to highlight problems affecting the accuracy of the system and therefore can provide a foundation for further improvement of the appraisal system. 1.1 Thesis Objective and Research Questions The intended purpose of the Public Service of Belize s performance appraisal is to effectively measure, evaluate and influence employees performance. This study will look at whether the intended purpose of the appraisal is achieved and employees are receiving valid evaluations free from bias and assessment errors. It will further look at the importance of rater training and whether raters link performance goals to organizational goals in order to achieve effective performance appraisals. 3

4 In order to achieve the research objective, this paper will provide an explanation as to why these assessment errors occur by addressing the following research questions: 1. Are supervisors who fail to conduct ongoing appraisal periodically (i.e. quarterly, monthly ) more prone to making assessment errors? 2. Are supervisor allowing the grading of one the grading of one category to influence the grade of another? 3. Are supervisors who are too concerned about employees perception when poor performance is detected more likely to have leniency bias? 4. Are supervisors who lack adequate performance management/ appraisal training more likely to make assessment errors? 5. Do organizations that fits performance criteria to purpose (business strategies or goals) more likely to achieve effective performance appraisal or management? 1.2 Thesis Structure Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter serves as an introduction to the reader in terms of what is a Performance Appraisal, how it can be effective and how to attain best results 4

5 Chapter 2: Background This chapter provides the country profile and a background of the Public Service of Belize. It also explains the current performance appraisal system of the Public Service of Belize. Chapter 3: Literature Review This chapter discusses the different biases and rater errors identified in appraisal systems as well as the need for training of raters in understanding the appraisal system and conducting appraisals. It also focuses on the importance of linking employees performance goals to organizational goals. Chapter 4: Research Methodology This chapter describes the research methodology used in the paper. Chapter 5: Results This chapter presents the data collected and provides and analysis of the results in relation to the research questions. Chapter 6: Conclusion This chapter summarizes the findings, states the managerial implications and highlights the limitations involved in collecting and analyzing and preparing the research paper. 5

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