Managers have for many years been evaluated against standards of personal traits and work characteristic. Typical trait-rating evaluation systems may list ten to fifteen personal characteristics, such as ability to get along with people, leadership, analytical competence and initiative. The list may also include such work-related characteristics as job knowledge; ability to follow through on assignments, production or cost results; or success in seeing that plans are carried out.
Managers resist doing this type of evaluation or tend to go through the paperwork without knowing exactly how to rate. Even in firms that have made earnest attempts to “sell” such programs, to indoctrinate managers, and to train them in the meaning of traits so that they can improve their appraisal ability, few managers can or will evaluate properly.
One practical problem of the trait approach to appraisal is that trait evaluation cannot be objective. Serious and far-minded managers do not wish to utilize their obviously subjective judgment on a matter as important as performance. To complicate matters, employees receiving a rating lower than what they feel is justified almost invariably feel that they have been dealt with unfairly.
One widely used approach to managerial appraisal is the system of evaluating managerial performance against the setting and accomplishing of verifiable objectives. Once a program of managing by verifiable objectives is operating, appraisal is a fairly easy step. Supervisors determine how well managers set objectives and how well they have performed against them. In cases where appraisal by results has failed or been disillusioning, the principal reason is that managing by objectives was seen only as an appraisal technique. The system is not likely to work if used only for this purpose. Management by objectives must be a way of managing, a way of planning as well as the key to organizing, staffing, leading and controlling. When this is the case, appraisal boils down to whether or not managers have established adequate but reasonably attainable objectives and how they have performed against them in a certain period.
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