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In every organization employees expect to receive some feedback on how they are performing the job required of them. Many organizations implement a yearly performance appraisal system to review the employees performance. As expected, the employee may question the veracity of any appraisal being given. This article points out that acceptance or rejection of the performance appraisal may depend on perceptions of its fairness. Also, the interpersonal relationship between raters and ratees is one of the most important predictors of a successful performance appraisal. (Harrington 215) Every employee deserves to receive some feedback in order to stay motivated but also to correct areas which the organization one is working for deems necessary.

In order to tackle the sources of problems concerning performance appraisal psychologists utilize the social exchange theory. The social exchange theory states “an individual voluntarily provides a benefit to another, invoking an obligation of the other party to reciprocate by providing some benefit in return”.  (Harrington 217) Put simply, if an employee feels that what he or she is receiving is somewhat equal to what he or she contributes to the organization then he or she will most likely stay.  Furthermore, building on the social exchange theory, there is not only a monetary or transactional contract being made during employment there is also a “relational contract” that is simply based on socioemotional trust between two parties, in this case employee and employer. (Harrington 217)  If the employee does not trust the one giving the appraisal that becomes one of the problems we encounter and it leads to questions regarding possible bias, prejudice, lack of cultural awareness and subjective results on the appraisal.

There are also current issues and controversies revolving around the problems concerning performance appraisals. For example, the current yearly appraisals are based on a “deficit model” which identifies areas that need to be improved and points out specific weaknesses of the employee.The field of positive psychology is proposing a “strengths-based” approach as more effective. This would allow organizations to focus on the strengths of the employees and also give the employees more opportunities to use their strengths. (Trujllo 170) Another significant current issue is that technology has allowed electronic monitoring of employees. This is good to a certain degre as it is a “results-based” appraisal and it can be useful. However, results are not always the best way to measure performance as there are more dimensions to an employees’ performance, also being monitored so closely may lead to fatigue and just general feelings of discomfort, mistrust or alienation. (Trujillo169) Finally, there appears to be a widespread dissatisfaction with yearly performance appraisals and some have gone so far as to call for an end to this practice. Perhaps instead of abolishing the appraisal, an interesting perspective would be to focus on understanding that performance management techniques should not only rely on a yearly performance appraisal. Throughout the year there could be regular feedback, goal setting, or incentive pay that can influence individual-level perfomance. (Harrington 429)

In conclusion one can surmise that in this fast paced world things are changing and modern day companies and organizations would do well to work hand in hand with psychologists to understand human behaviour in the workplace.  Many problems concerning performance appraisal can be fixed but some issues may arise and in those times psychologists and companies can work together to solve these problems.

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