Thursday, July 12, 2012

Analysis of Survey of Performance Appraisal Process at Seattle Area Service Center

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide analysis of the SASC performance appraisal system as seen by a number of its participants. Ten surveys were handed out to a representative sample of employees, and nine were returned completed.

The first section of the paper is an analysis of the survey itself its effectiveness and suggestions for improvements to it. Next is a basic description of the performance appraisal system used by SASC, followed by the analysis of that system as a result of the survey. The last section details how the current performance appraisal system could be improved and made more effective.



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Analysis of the Survey

Question 1 I received a timely performance appraisal.

What is the definition of a timely performance appraisal? Is it one that is done to meet a scheduled deadline? Or is it one that is done frequently enough to be of benefit to both the individual being appraised and the organization? If this question were rewritten to ask if the current system provides the correct frequency of appraisals it would provide more useful results and would also provoke more comments in response.

Question I received a fair performance appraisal.

The question would be better if it asked about a ‘balanced’ appraisal rather than a ‘fair’ one. A balanced appraisal that shows an understanding of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses would be more useful than one that is ‘fair’. Many individual’s only criteria for judging an appraisal is the amount of the raise they received. A balanced appraisal would provide benefits to both the individual and the organization by identifying areas that need work and what steps can be taken to improve the individual’s performance in those areas, while recognizing the areas where their performance is adequate or outstanding.

Question My performance appraisal results were what I expected.

This question is a good one, because it gives the organization an idea of how well the individual understands their role and how well the expectations have been defined. It also shows whether the individual has a realistic picture of how they are performing with regard to that role.

Question 4 My performance appraisal was measured against my job description/duties/expectations.

The question strikes at what should be the heart of a performance appraisal that is used for deciding on pay increases. If the system is not providing an accurate assessment of performance with regards to objectives, then it needs to be examined to find where the problem lies. It could be in the setting of objectives that are not clear, or it could be due to insufficient training of those doing the appraisals which allows bias and personal agendas to influence the appraisal.

Question 5 I was provided recommendations for improvement during my performance appraisal.

This question is important for determining how well the system is doing at providing a path to improvement for the employee. If an individual is told that they need to improve, but is not given concrete steps by which to achieve that improvement it will be unlikely that they will be successful.

The Performance Appraisal System in use at SASC

The current system in use at SASC for performance appraisals is the Individual Performance Management and Development plan. It uses performance objectives set by the individual and their supervisor that are based on behaviors and goals. These start at the highest corporate level and are flowed down to the individual, with each division providing their own objectives to be achieved that assist in meeting the corporate goals. The individual is rated in each of the behaviors, some of which are cooperation, communication, integrity and teamwork. They are rated as Needs Development, Adequate, Exceeds Expectations, or Outstanding. Justification must be given for any rating other than adequate, and development plans must be outlined for areas that need it. These appraisals are done twice a year, with merit increases only given once a year. The appraisal for the salary increase is also used to set performance objectives for the subsequent year. The next appraisal is a review of those objectives that provides both employee and supervisor with a benchmark against which to judge the individual’s progress at the next appraisal.

The largest problem with the current system, according to the results of the survey, is in its timing. Some respondents feel that quarterly reviews would be more effective because it is difficult for both the supervisor and the employee to remember events that happened several months before the review is performed. This problem of remembering events could instead be solved by having the supervisor keep a diary, with entries made as accomplishments are made or problems are recognized. Or the quarterly reviews could be informal, with the details recorded in the annual performance appraisal that is passed on to upper management.

Another problem with the current system is that an individual’s review may be very good, but if the current economic conditions limit the amount the company has for raises, the individual may feel the review process was ineffective because their increase was so small. One method that might be effective in preventing this perception is to show the individual how they ranked in the group. While it is against company policy to publish actual wage levels for individuals, their rank among the group could serve to motivate them to improve their standing if they were at the low end of the scale, and it could show the top achievers that they were ranked at the top and got the largest increase that was possible.

The question that received the most consistent response was the one about whether the results of the appraisal were what the individual expected. Everyone agreed that the results were what they expected, but one comment indicated that the increase that resulted was not what they expected. The current facility goals of achieving 5% On-time Delivery of customer units gives most teams the necessary tools to monitor their performance, and each individual can see how they are doing in helping their team reach their goals each month.

A couple of respondents indicated that they did not receive any recommendations for improvement during their performance appraisal. One of them said that training was mentioned, but that there was no provision made for obtaining it. It seems to depend on the supervisor with regards to setting performance objectives and charting improvement plans. Some are good at assisting the individual to set their future goals and determine how to achieve them, while others are content to just evaluate how they perform against the team or facility objectives.

Recommendations for Improvement of the IPMD

First, have only the appraisal that is used for the merit increases passed on to the upper levels. Make the other reviews informal, with details recorded in the IPMD that is submitted yearly. This would allow the supervisor and the employee to set the informal reviews for the frequency they deem most effective. Some would be quarterly, some bi-annually like they are now, and some might want to have monthly talks. For an individual with performance problems, monthly would be more effective than even quarterly, because events would be fresher in their minds and progress would receive more timely reinforcement.

Second, there should be more emphasis placed on the career path of the individual. There should be steps that the individual can take to ready themselves for promotion, if desired. Or cross-training to other functional areas could be provided. There needs to be more mentoring in the organization, whether informal or through a formal program that selects mentors for those who request one.

Thirdly, make the discussion by the staff during the final review for raises more of a part of the record. Currently, none of that discussion is made known to the individual. In order to do this, an employee feedback form could be used to solicit input from others in the organization that have contact with the individual in the course of doing their jobs, including other supervisors or even those outside the organization. This would give the added advantage of cutting down on the amount of time the staff would have to spend in reviewing the appraisals, since their input would already be included.



Resources



Dessler, G. (000). Human Resource Management. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Prentice Hall, Inc.



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