Sunday, May 1, 2011

Performance appraisal

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Through a detailed analysis of current information, it is clear to certify that there is a consensus view on Performance Appraisal Systems (PAS). Many believe (including Bright et al., 17) that PAS grew momentum during the 160s. Guest (10) seeing the change to Human Resource Management (HRM) as conforming to the American Dream (European Human Resource Management), it is now a strategic factor businesses have to deal with, but does help the handling of people/employee. This relates to other thinking that the origins of PAS can be found in the thinking of Douglas McGregor (160s) through his Theory X and Theory Y in his book The Human Side of Enterprise.

PAS is a method to review performance of staff (Mullins 16, Pg.6), with Jack Zigon (President Zigon Performance Group) believing that PAS can be used for many purposes (website, 14). Casico takes the definition stage further Performance appraisal, the systematic description of job-relevant strengths and weaknesses within and between employees and groups (Pg.85 18). The overall purpose of a PAS is summed up by Mullins (appendix A), with McKenna et al. (15) transcribing what others believe, that an effective PAS as two clear uses to reward performance and develop employees, with PAS central to Human Resource policies (appendix B). An example of PAS usage is seen through a Dutch example. The Netherlands is an haven for PAS examples, where they are conducted frequently and with such there is low employee turnover (Clark 16), giving high emphasis on employee development. Throughout Europe individual countries are now giving an increased emphasis on developing the employee -which is a factor that prolongs throughout the research.

Amongst all the literature researched, Carrell et al. (15), believe PAS are related to Human Resource growth, which is an on-going and continuous process. There are two major issues identified; if PAS is needed and through which method is to be used. To prevent from regurgitating a long and frequently similar list (Carrell et al. feel it may be worded differently but essentially same style of thought) of methods used, the methods identified are essentially the same. There are many forms/techniques of PAS, but the more effective ones depend on the one selected for a particular job analysis. Often the success of the technique used will depend on the skill and attitude of who completes the appraisal. For example it would be inane to measure numbers for a Marketer but fine for a job role in production. Jack Zigon feels the better measure is through words rather than numbers and sees that in many cases numerical measures are useless. A factor seen at First Direct and Halifax Bank, both banking corporations have now changed their numerical scales into worded scripts. Halifax has changed their 5-point a-b-c-d-e scale into a -point worded scaling. Nissan believe the best method will be fair and simple and create motivation for constructive feedback, with Zigon claiming people prefer the notion of continuous improvement rather than absolute perfection. Such systems are often formalised and systematic, with regular assessment (as in the First Direct example), integral and specific to the situation at hand providing job related and specific direction for future performance (Carrell, 15 Pg.86) and can often give an indication of the job role itself.

A third major issue is that of the appraiser. Many believe that the actual appraiser can influence the success of the system. It is felt that there is a constant need for training and there must be positive relationship between the appraiser and the appraisee. It is also suggested that the appraiser must not display perfection levels (Wickens 187) and there must be feedback offered with clear targets set. Outcomes must not be ignored and appraisers must avoid stiff formality.

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The future of PAS will be seen as continually developing employees, a vehicle which can enhance performance and workers relationships (Bright et al. 17, Pg.141). It will progress from human interaction to computerisation, where neutral computers or computers with artificial intelligence (AI) will replace the appraiser which will reduce the effect of negative human relationship elements, which can often cause a clouding of the appraisal result (the halo effect). This will be a natural development as both parties require education, from each other, whilst the system itself requires initial education. The system however will educate its users and will internally educate, creating a system, which will be fully flexible and fully organic. It will become so flexible that eventually the PAS will become self-sufficient and will not require force-feeding of information. This will help create an integral HR information system for the whole of the organisation.

Referring to the main issue relating to whether or not a PAS system is needed and its characteristics. All the authors studied believe that an organisation requires a Performance Appraisal System. But the general thought to the extent a rule-of-thumb, that few organisations are happy with their system. Some suggest that employees distrust a PAS and that many organisations are unhappy with their current system and so a major issue related to this, is how to develop a PAS, which is mutually satisfying to both the employee and organisation. Zigon, through his companys website suggest through continuous development of the system. Zigon also feels that the systems need developing and improving due to his 1 years of research that the PAS is outdated within years of its formation.

The PAS needs to be used as an integrated tool, with care taken into what is included. Many potential components/purposes are identified but some believe that only or 4 purposes are included with others introduced as the PAS matures. If the PAS is to be successful the method used must be specific to the situation (for example self-assessment or management-assessment), with Harrison (17) believing that the system should be driven by vision, corporate goals & business strategies (Pg.).

In conclusion, it is believed there is a consistent view on the major issues of PAS of which I feel are 4-fold. If the PAS is needed, which method to use, the skill of the appraiser and the future of appraisals. Many believe that the PAS is central to all HR policies and must be central to organisational growth. It is felt that their are many methods are available, but whichever one is selected there must be feedback and continuous development of the system. It is believed that the system will follow the suit of many business processes and become truly computerised. As the system matures, so will the education of its users, both on an individual level and on an organisational level. Austin (1) feels Traditional approaches to performance evaluation cannot keep up with todays competitive realities (Human Resource Management, 17 [as found in]) and so a contingent and flexible approach needs to be taken, something which as been suggested through the literature search. One may say that although many texts and sources was used, they were all essentially revealing the same outcome, but simply using different words to reveal such thinking.

Critically analyse Ciscos recruiting method from the article Ciscos Recruiting Edge. Compare Ciscos method with other recruitment methods available

People as a resource (Human Resource) are regarded as an organisations most valuable asset, and often the source of Competitive Advantage. The right people for the organisation requires a competent Human Resource system to serve the recruitment needs of the organisation. Recruitment (refer to appendix c for the process & appendix d for most prevalent techniques by job roles) is the means to add to, maintain, or readjust total workforces...in accordance with HR requirements (Cascio, 18 Pg.174). In a modern flexible organisation the handling of the Human element is vastly important. The modern firm as both Core and peripheral workers to handle, the numbers of which are handled by the recruitment staff of the organisation. There are various methods of recruitment (to be discussed later) and it can happen internally or externally.

San Jose based technological network giants Cisco require not only the latest and innovative products to stay-ahead-of-the-field but they also require their employees to be of the same nature. That is the reason why they require the best people possible -and not necessarily available! ...trying to hire only the highest-calibre people along the way (case study).

The methods used by Cisco the writer would say are back-door headhunting. They are enticing employees of other companies to come to them, rather than using the costly full-on headhunting (therefore having to buy out a contract and damage their public image) technique. Recruitment is often seen as a two-way process. Employers search for prospective employees (for example employment agencies), but prospective employees also seek out employers -a notion known as mating, a method clearly enjoyed by Cisco and clearly evident in their friends programme.

Cisco is clearly proactive and aggressive when it comes to recruitment. Its recruitment team identifies the characteristics required, then how to attract them (it then makes sure it fills the voids in manpower). Cisco irritates employees of other companies into applying to Cisco (through the aggressive recruitment) and the policy of gaining the top 10% - 15% of people in the technology industry evidently works as the HR is fully committed to the current recruitment methods. They are a technological firm, which uses original ideas (friends programme), bizarre ideas (visiting art fairs) and highly technological ideas (using the Internet).

The writer finds the most appealing is the buddy system, whereby prospective employees are teamed up with existing employees, which is used to assess the cultural fit of the employee and also to inform the employee of life at Cisco. Although on the face of it a good idea, the under-hand measures of big corporations is shown through the financial enticement given to the buddy by Cisco to be part of the team. Thus clouding of the overall perspective of the company can be achieved if the existing employees want to further their participation in the scheme and increase their chances of the trip to Hawaii! The use of persuasion is used to attract new employees, in a subdued fashion and by advertising at cinemas use prospective employees leisure/relaxed time/attitude. The prospective employee will be unaware of the financial implications for the existing employee in been part of this system and unaware of any persuasion techniques.

The use of technology is excellent. Cisco use their networking knowledge to reduce the slow application process via the CV and other walk-in (a job vacancy is seen and the interested party simply call-in, however Cisco would be unlikely to use such a technique as it is often not used for higher position jobs or technical jobs) techniques. The Internet site of Cisco clearly adopts this notion of enticement, making it easier to find information and on a global scale. The Profiler tool and the Internet site, further show that Cisco want to steal employees from other employers using fair and good image provoking techniques. But the escape button once more reveals the corrupt/under-hand nature of the techniques, but the corporation will say it is the employee who is coming to them (prospecting) via the website rather than Cisco head-hunting them. The case study sees the Internet as it can inexpensively post hundreds of job openings and lots of information about each one.

Cisco methods one feels on the surface appear to be not too vindictive, but a further analysis certainly sees that the Silicon giant is not as virgin-faced as it may appear to be. Cisco sought to learn how happily employed people could be enticed to interview for a job (case study). The case study appears to suggest that they make happy employees feel they need to be at Cisco recruiters target what they call passive job seekers, people who are happy and successful where they are. Therefore allowing the employee to feel they are obliged to apply for a job.

The recruitment strategy mirrors that of any other strategy in a highly competitive industry in order to gain a Competitive Advantage. As previously said, people are the main source for organisations, they supply innovation, they supply ideas and for this reason the Human Resource is unique. For this reason it appears Cisco arent happy about creating or finding its own talent, but will use another organisations successful strategies to supplement Ciscos employment deficiencies. It is also apparent that they require the best and they will use techniques which are technically sugar-coated immoral/unethical methods -is it fair that they should pry on the employees of other companies, whom in Ciscos own revelation are happy. But on the side of the corporations, they do not tell people to fill in forms over the Internet as did Dawn Wilson (case study). They also have internal employment-sharks who prey on the identified, the benefits of faster hiring, the company [Cisco] reasoned, would far outweigh the expense of headhunters...trying to make lives easier. (case study)

Table 1, Advantages of Recruiting Internally/Externally

Internal External

Increase morale of all employees Applicant pool is greater

Knowledge of personnel records New ideas, contacts

Chain effect of promotion Reduces internal infighting

Need to hire only at entry level Minimises the Peter Principle

Usually faster, less expensive

Source Carrell et al. (15)

Many other recruitment methods are available. Examples of such are Newspapers, television, cinema (which Cisco use to advertise their friends programme), posters, career fairs, college/universities open days, recommendations of current employees, job centres and external consultants (as identified by Bright et al. 17). They form essentially two groups internal and external methods. There are two major sources of recruitment in Spain recommendations by company employees (Cisco will use such method) and unsoliated application (Clark, 16) -methods chosen are usually linked to the type of job. Lasher Associates (a United States recruitment firm) believe traditional recruiting methods, including advertising, personal referrals, and placement firms generally produce a good source of available candidates and fulfil the majority of staffing requirements in most companies (1). With UK grocery chain Marks & Spencer have introduced on the job testing before a job offer is made. Such is a new method but the Times Newspapers feel that the methods are turning full circle as many advisors on recruitment feel the need to go back to basics (1). For basic methods Cisco use anything but. Although they do have a kind of on the job working habit (like Marks & Spencer) through the Friends Programme. This programme is not basic and clearly highly innovative.

From the case study material it is clear that Cisco use anything but internal recruitment methods. This is perhaps due to the company requiring the best of the best and therefore must progress externally. As Table 1 reveals there are advantages to be gained from internally recruiting, such as saving time and money (essential resources). The main source of which is employee relocation consists of existing employee transfer into a new position. Another is job posting, which involves the internal display of job availability. This could be used for Cisco over their internal network, although as previously specified they seem to require extra external manpower.

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