Performance Appraisal Schemes

Performance appraisal schemes fall into the four generic classes shown below.

1. Traditional appraisals

2. Competency based appraisals

3. 360° appraisals

4. Upwards appraisals

The traditional appraisal scheme involves the manager appraising the performance of staff members on a one to one basis. These can be well-conducted conversations on an individual's performance but do have the capacity to become authoritarian and dictatorial. Competency based appraisals are those where performance is appraised against clearly identified competencies and are not concerned with personality or character traits. 360° appraisal, as its name implies, involves getting feedback on a person's performance from contacts all on fronts. Upward appraisal is a method used by managers basically to improve their personal performance. Getting the views from their own staff on their managerial skills does this.

Each of these appraisal schemes has both benefits and drawbacks and these are summarised in Table A4 [A-10]. Which appraisal scheme that is used is usually decided at the highest level in the human resources department of the bigger companies. In small businesses the choice may will be up to the manager concerned; whether they wish to operate via traditional command and control hierarchy or whether they are customer focused with members of staff self empowered.

Table A4 Comparison of Performance Appraisal Schemes





Performance overview achievable

Feedback can be one way

One to one review

Authoritarian temptation for managers

Records easily kept

Daunting if staff differential too large

Action plans made

Training needs identified

Simple to operate


Competencies easily identified

High levels of management/staff input


Consistency across organisation

Coordination to be high between HR

Common language/definitions used

and Managers

Specific self assessment

All staff need to be inducted


Managers to be trained to same

Action plan for training/development



Holistic approach


All round feedback

Most intensive in research and

Cultural change - allows rapid


response in changing world

Needs a no-blame culture

Achieves business objectives

May raise expectations that are difficult

to deliver


Two-way process

Non supportive company ethos

Offers insight and awareness

Time consuming and complex

Identifies strengths and weaknesses

Danger of being used to settle old

Customer focused culture helped


For the increasingly popular 360° appraisal scheme the choice of people to provide the necessary all round feedback to R&D personnel is once more dependent on the role within the group [A-12]. Is the work carried within a multi-disciplinary team? Is other staff directly managed? Is there contact with external customers or suppliers? What contact is there with manufacturing or other functions? Is there collaboration with academic institutions? A typical range of possible contacts for feedback on the Group Leader (see Section A, 2.1.1) is illustrated in Figure A3. It should be noted that this contains an element of upward appraisal as the opinions of managed staff are also canvassed.

Having made the choice of opinion providers it is necessary to ensure that they understand the process and purpose of the exercise. Either the Manager or HR person needs to provide a clear explanation. To help the process it is common to use a standard form. In this way responses can be compared from the different sources. When completing the 360° forms the respondents should be asked to observe the following.

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