Performance appraisal is the process by which the performance of an employee in a particular workplace is evaluated. This is part of career development and these checks are often done for employees across all fields. There are different performance appraisal methods in existence some of which include graphic rating scales, behaviourally anchored rating scales, forced-distribution methods, and learning goals/management by objectives method and peer review. Different appraisal methods have different advantages and limitations in their use.
The graphic rating scales are one of the most commonly used appraisal methods. Under this method, an evaluator is established in order to indicate on a scale how the employee, in this case a nurse, responds to different situations. The scale normally has different points such as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘below average’ or ‘poor’. This will enable the appraiser to determine the performance of the employee. This method has an advantage in that the scale provides a standardized method of appraisal and is generally easy to construct and use. However these rating scales are susceptible to errors made in their creation and use which could lead to inaccurate appraisal. Some possible errors include the occurrence of the halo effect on the employee, lack of variation among different ratings of different employees or even some form of leniency in creation of the scales since they are subjective in nature.
The forced distribution method is a comparative evaluation whereby the employees are evaluated according to a specific distribution. For instance, a supervisor could be told to group the nurses into best, average and poor performers as a way of evaluation of their performance. This appraisal method eliminates some rating errors such as the lack of variation of different ratings of different nurses and leniency. However this method is limited in that it forces the occurrence of discriminations between the employees if their performance was similar especially in small groups of people.
The behaviourally anchored rating scales method uses scales that are explained by statements of behaviours which are effective or ineffective. These are then used to evaluate the performance of an employee. This method is better than other rating scale as it is more specific since it focuses on behaviours. It is limited by the fact that the rating could be subjective as the supervisor could be lenient with some employees.
The learning goals also referred to as management by objective method involves the setting of specific goals that should be measurable with each employee. The progress of each employee towards attainment of the goals is then evaluated periodically. This method is preferred as it involves the employee and therefore they will strive to achieve the required standard. This method can work well with supervisors such as nurse administrators.
Peer review is whereby colleagues assess each other’s performance and provide the feedback on such an assessment. It is best used when the employees are arranged in groups and members of the group evaluate each other’s performance. This method improves the accuracy of the ratings, encourage uniform participation of employees in appraisal and also facilitates accountability of the employees’’ actions. Through peer review, new talent or an innovation that was previously hidden can surface. For example, the employees with leadership skills can be discovered. However, the method can provide inaccurate results if the employees are not sincere.
In summation, different appraisal methods have different advantages and limitations during use. It is therefore not advisable to develop an appraisal tool using only one of the methods above. This is due to the fact that it will contain inherent limitations of that method. For the most accurate results, a combination of these five methods should be used to develop an appraisal tool. This can be done by the evaluator using the different methods to test the different aspects of employee performance. This will improve on the effectiveness of different appraisal methods as the inherent limitations of one method will be overcome by another method. This will provide the most accurate results possible.
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