Human Behavior Is Unpredictable Management Essay

This research sought to find out the gaps that exist in the Karatina University Colleges performance management system and to come up with recommendations for adjustments that will put the institution on a path towards continuous performance improvement. The objective of the study was to determine how the institution conducts performance appraisal, the main challenges faced in the appraisal process, and the best practices that it can adopt for the process. Literature review was conducted on the subject touching on the various aspect of performance management. The study was conducted using a survey research design. Primary data was collected using self-administered questionnaires with supplements of secondary data used to add efficacy to the results. The questionnaires were administered on randomly chosen members of faculty in the common School of Business Staff room. Descriptive statistics were used including percentages and frequencies. The results were presented in tables in the analysis for each objective.

Human behavior is unpredictable and differs among individuals or even on the same individual at different points in time (Hunt, 2007). Human beings also differ in their abilities, background, training and experience. At the same time, Dr. Nigel Hunt notes that many problems facing most organizations today are social rather than technical or economic. It therefore goes that human resource at work is the most important component of the undertaking. It is therefore very important for organizations to measure performance of this critical resource as doing so ensures organisational success. 10

Performance Management (PM) has recently dominated the Human Resource Management (HR) as a profession owing to the realization that HR is the one of the most potent source of competitiveness in today’s operating environment. Insights into performance management by leading thinkers in the recent past (Armstrong, 2009) point to the emergence of Performance Management as the most viable solution to address the productivity lag in most industries.

Performance Management is a branch of human resource management whose objective is to support employees in their struggle to attain their goals as well as those of the organisation (Bhattacharyya, 2006). Bhattacharyya explains that PM gained prominence in the 1960’s when competition in the operating environment led firms to reexamine their internal operating efficiencies to survive. A difficult operating environment coupled with a desire for productivity led firms to emphasize on productivity of not only their machines but also their human resource. Armstrong (2009) explains that Performance management as a term emerged in the 1970’s and was later gained prominence in the 1980’s as a distinct discipline within human resource management. Presently, most organizations have embraced performance management as a pillar of productivity in the organisation. As Abbey (2007) describes, performance management has taken prominence in organizations as a vehicle to deliver on organisational and individual performance objectives. Abbey emphasizes that the incorporation of individual objectives into the performance management paradigm made performance management distinct from mere performance appraisal. Performance appraisal emphasized the degree of accomplishment of a given individual by supervisors without seeking the active involvement of the employee in the process (Management Study Guide, 2012). Measuring employee performance therefore goes beyond staff appraisal to include other aspects of performance such as learning and development, talent management and culture change as key contributors to organisational productivity (Armstrong, 2009).

Performance management provides the only tool with which the management can evaluate departmental/sectional contributions to the overall organizational performance as well as determine the best options for intervention. For effective achievement of organizational objectives, employees must know what needs to be done and the overall objectives of the organisation (Dransfield, 2000). Besides the knowledge of the overall organizational objectives, individual employees must have knowledge of their particular role within the broader organisational setting. This way, and as Dransfield (2000) notes, all the players in the organizational production chain share a common objective and pull towards the same direction. This is particularly important in that it harnesses organisational synergies in pursuit of a common goal and aligns daily activities within an organization to the overall strategic objectives.

Performance management is done to compare relative variations in performance over time for organizations. Output from performance management process is also used for comparison with similar industries or benchmarks and establishing basis for corrective action (Management Study Guide, 2012). The nature of organizational power structure means that senior management cannot keep a direct watch over the performance of the subordinates and therefore a self-corrective process has to be initiates to assess their performance against objectives of the organizations. Performance management also inculcates the culture of sticking to organisational objectives and ignoring the activities that do not add value to the organisational value chain (Management Study Guide, 2012). Though it is impossible to forestall all management challenges, performance management helps the management take steps in advance to improve organizational capacity to deal with unexpected situations

The Management Study Guide website details the evolution of performance management as a discipline within the wider human resource management in four phases. The first phase involved filling of annual confidential reports to control employee behavior. Career development was pegged on positive evaluation in the annual confidential report. The second phase entailed communication of the contents of annual report to the employees to correct the identified failings. The last phase involved replacement of the annual confidential reports by performance appraisal process where employees could rate their accomplishment annually.

Today, performance appraisals have given way to performance management. The process entails performing continuous reviews based on mutually agreed objectives. The focus of performance appraisal is quantifiable objectives behaviors and values as opposed to employee traits (Management Study Guide, 2012). Appraisal processes are more of directive than participative thus stifling team effort (Leung and White, 2004). The output from performance appraisal is not directly linked to pay as was for the performance appraisals process. Guest, D E et al, (1996) aptly described performance management process as concerned with assumptions, expectations, mutual obligations and promises of employees and the organization.

With the continuous change in operating environment, businesses have leveraged on human resource as their basis of obtaining and maintaining competitive advantage (Bhattacharyya, 2006). However, appraisal processes misses the crucial aspects that sustain a firms competitiveness as earlier describes including the wider strategic framework within which the organization operates. A system that emphasizes on employee mentorship and development as opposed to remuneration and disciplinary action enhances organizational output (Tripathi & Reddy, 2008).

Performance Management requires continuous output by in time for action to be taken. Panagar (2009) explains that employees are disappointed when annual appraisals bring negative feedback and do not point to the areas of improvements that an employee needs to focus on. He offers that participative evaluation in performance management contextualize the management to the working environment and challenges them to facilitate positive change for achievement of objectives. Continuous and balanced feedback enhances coordination and cooperation in organizations (Heskett, 2006). Besides, Heskett cites that employees’ achievements should be emphasized as opposed to dwelling on areas of improvement to encourage them to do more.

Human behavior is unpredictable and differs among individuals or even on the same individual at different points in time (Hunt, 2007). Human beings also differ in their abilities, background, training and experience. At the same time, Dr. Nigel Hunt notes that many problems facing most organizations today are social rather than technical or economic. It therefore goes that human resource at work is the most important component of the undertaking. It is therefore very important for organizations to measure performance of this critical resource as doing so ensures organisational success.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Upon appraising employees and provision of feedback, most organizations wait until the next planned appraisal exercise (Hunt, 2007). Hunt offers that performance management in most organisation stops at the employee evaluation process and mostly after there is sufficient evidence pointing to non-performance. However, this defeats the main objective of the performance management process as an undertaking in aligning employee’s goals to goals to those of the organisation. This keeps the whole organization focus on its strategic objectives by harnessing collective efforts of its workers. Hunt states four issues that need to be taken into consideration in the performance management process namely following up to ensure achievement of targets, evaluating the entire process to ensure that it is appropriate and fair and do not foster conflict in the organisation. Observance of these four standpoints guarantees employee job satisfaction and continuous improvement in the organization.

In most organizations, employees harbor qualms on the appraisal process (Shaddock, 2010). Shaddock attributes the negative perception to the use of appraisal results as evidence of poor performance instead of discussing performance with the employees to find common ground. The infrequent manner in which appraisal process is conducted adds to the subjectivity of the results as managers are more prone to conduct the exercise when performance is deteriorating (Tripathi & Reddy, 2008). Tripathi and Reddy explain that the effect of these appraisal processes leave employees disillusioned and afraid to take risks leave alone accepting the fact that continuous improvement can enhance their success and by extension that of the organizational. As a result, employees lose their sense of control over the situation and resign to the directives of the management without their own insights. This contrasts with the new human resource management paradigm that emphasizes on mentorship, coaching and empowerment (Dacri, 2006).

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This research sought to find out the gaps that exist in the KUC’s performance management system and to come up with recommendations for adjustments that will put the institution on a path towards continuous performance improvement.

1.4 Research Questions

1.4.1 How does KUC conduct performance appraisal?

1.4.2 What are the main challenges faced in the appraisal process?

1.4.3 What are the best practices that KUC can adopt for performance appraisals?

1.5 Significance of the Study

1.5.1 Human Resource Managers and Practitioners

The head of human resource at the institution as well as others will get insights into the performance of their organizations and the best practices they can employ to achieve the best output from the human resource. The research will reveal insights on the frequency of performance appraisal and how best to achieve the desired results.

Besides, the research will reveal the benefits of communication between the managers and employees. It will lead to clear understanding of job descriptions by the employees and better performance measurement. This will go a long way in boosting efficiency and effectiveness at the workplace.

1.5.2 Organizations

The research will emphasize the role of performance management process in the achievement of strategic objectives of the organization. It will also enlighten the employees on their role in the organisation as well as the opportunities they have to advance boost their performance and by extension their careers. The research will particularly emphasize on the role of the performance management process on continuous improvements within the organization. This will position organization on a path to responsive change needed for survival in today’s operating environment (Management Study Guide, 2012).

1.5.2 Employees

The research will provide employees with an opportunity to evaluate their performance appraisal system and to suggest adjustments to align it with the organisational objectives. The employees will have an opportunity to express their desired outcomes of the performance management process that best serves the interests of both them and the organizations. Besides, the research will expose new areas that employees need training. Lastly, the employees will feel that the organisation is concerned about their welfare just as much as it is concerned about the performance of the organisation.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study was performed on a group of workers at Karatina University College. Data was collected on the month of February and March to reflect the current operational context of the organization. a review of literature was performed as well as secondary data on performance management concepts, the challenges faced and benefits that can accrues in evaluating an organization’s performance.

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1.7 Definition of Terms

1.7.1 Performance Appraisal

Performance Management is an ongoing communication process, undertaken in partnership, between an employee and his or her immediate supervisor that involves establishing clear expectations and understanding of the functions expected of the employee and their contribution towards the achievement of the organizational goals (Robert Basal, 1999).

1.7.2 Performance Management

Performance management refers to the proactive system of evaluating and providing feedback on employee output in line with the desired results. It aims at harmonizing employee and organisational objectives to achieve operational excellence (Management Study Guide, 2012).

1.7.3 Benchmarking

Benchmarking is adopting best practices in the industry to guide organizational effort. It involves leaning from success of others (Peters, 2006).

1.7.4 Key performance Indicators

These are performance measurement for key values necessary to achieve success in an undertaking (Reh, 2010).

1.8 Chapter Summary

This chapter puts into perspective the concept of performance management and its application in modern day operating environment. The chapter defines the concept and differentiates it from performance appraisal as more elaborate and supportive of firm’s strategic objectives. The chapter also detailed the purpose of the study that was to find out the gaps that exist in the KUC’s performance management system and to come up with recommendations for adjustments that will put the institution on a path towards continuous performance improvement. In this pursuit, the three research questions to be answered were identified and the population from which the sample was drawn. Lastly, the research lists the beneficiaries of the research including employees, human resource managers and organizations keen to gain competitiveness from their human resource.



2.1 Introduction

Chapter 2 is a discussion on the various publications on the subject of performance management in line with the objectives of this research. The objectives of this research was to find out how performance appraisal is conducted, establish the main challenges faced in the appraisal process and identification of the best practices that KUC can adopt for performance appraisals.

2.2 The process of Performance Appraisal

2.2.1 Performance Appraisal explained

Performance appraisal is a periodic assessment of employee performance and productivity line with the objectives of the organization (Manasa & Reddy, 2009). Results of the process are used to gauge employees’ accomplishments as well as their potential for future improvements. Performance appraisal is done annually with the feedback used to counsel and develop employees, identify their training needs and align the compensation structures within the organisation (Manasa & Reddy, 2009).

Performance appraisal differs from performance management in that the earlier is carried out on a top-down basis with the supervisor acting as the judge with minimal employee involvement (Management Study Guide, 2012). Grote (2002) rightfully stated that the objective of the performance appraisal was to value each employee’s contribution against his rewards and take corrective action if the disparity is large. For this reason, performance appraisal was done on an annual or biannual basis depending on the particular entity. On the contrary, performance management focuses on the mutual objectives set by the employees and the management through a dialogue process (Management Study Guide, 2012). It is done continually and focuses on quantifiable objectives, behaviors and values (Management Study Guide, 2012). It thus leaves no room for subjectivity of the supervisor and aims at determining the points of improvements available to both the employer an employee.

Performance management dates back to the early 20th century when Fredrick Taylor equated employee’s compensation to their output at work (Vroom, 1990). In those times, appraisal was less formal than it is today and involved the aspect of units produced per given time (Lyster, Eteoklis & Arthur, 2007).

***** offers that performance appraisal is a mere step within the wider performance management paradigm. He notes that performance appraisal is an objective analysis of the facts and not the person. After getting the results of performance appraisal exercise, the wider process of performance management moves a step towards the final goal of aligning organisational and employee’s goals. According to ***, positive results are celebrated while negative results should prompt development of an improvement plan.

Performance appraisal uses a number of methods including graphic rating, ranking, behavioral anchored rating and management by objectives (Cokins, 2009). Cokins explains that the choice of the method used for appraisal depends on the goals of the organizations. Zaffron and Steve (2009) add that regardless of the method used, regular communication and feedback from the managers is essential for success of the appraisal process. That way, work teams in an organization feel that they are working towards a common goal (Grote, 2002).

2.2.2 Purpose of Performance Evaluation.

Heskett (2006) attributes the negative perception of performance appraisal among employees to the general lack of understanding about the purpose of appraisal. The Management Study Guide (2012) details out that performance management helps in defining responsibilities of both the individual and the team in the Key Result Areas. That way, coordination and control among the various departments in an organization becomes easy. The Management Study Guide notes that knowledge of responsibilities enables the employees to take initiative and work towards their set targets while improving their areas of weakness. This is as affirmed by Daniels (2006) that an objective and participative performance management process fosters learning and continuous improvement as opposed to breeding animosity.

Performance management cultivates a feeling of shared mutual accountabilities within an organization (Shepard, 2005). This way, Sheppard notes that employees are able to overcome resistance to change and are ready to improve on KRA’s. Leahy (2003) who offered that effective performance management anchors other operational metrics like the balanced scorecard has supported the views.

Effective performance management is crucial in motivating employees (Akrani, 2011). Akrani notes that performance management starts with employees setting goals that they intend to achieve over a given period. The employee assesses what he/she has done against the set targets. Given that the employer and the supervisor mutually set the targets for performance, the employee strives to reach the set targets (Akrani, 2011). Performance below the set standard is taken as an opportunity to improve as it is within the employees’ capacity to achieve. Beach (2007) explains that the employees give up trying if they feel that the set targets will not be achieved. Since the performance management entails mutual goal setting, such incidences are unlikely to occur. Instead, and as Akrani points out, performance management helps organizations determine the training and capacities for each of their employees.

Gamble, Strickland and Thompson (2007) explain that data obtained from performance appraisal is crucial in determining the right people to execute organizational strategy. Employees with the highest performance are easily identified and encouraged to undertake roles that are more challenging. In most cases, results from performance appraisals are used in the determination of employee compensation (Heathfield, n.d) a fact that Kirby (2005) detests. Appraisals are used to determine compensation and promotion levels that assist in linking rewards to performance among the staff (Heathfield, n.d). However, appraisals on their own should not be used as basis for promotions and rewards (Kirby, 2005). Given that the main goal of performance management process is to assist employees in setting goals and aligning them to those of the organization, it is crucial for performance and rewards framework be aligned to this process as opposed to mere performance appraisal (Lyster, Eteoklis & Arthur, 2007).

Lastly, performance appraisals play a huge part in shaping behaviors and attitudes of employees (Panager, 2009). Panager notes that employees relate well with the management and are responsive to the changing demands of their workplace. This is consistent with the Conaty and Ram (2011) assertion that human resource is the strongest catalyst or inhibitor of organisational change efforts. Performance management helps an organization to gauge its human resource’s effectiveness in coping with change (Conaty & Ram, 2011).

2.2.3 Common Performance Appraisal Practices.

The most common performance appraisal practice involves ranking employees from the best to the worst (Griffin, 2007). The method is mainly subjective with the supervisor’s judgment being crucial in the ranking of each employee. This subjective approach exposes the process to bias and manipulation by the management. Lunenburg & Ornstein (2011) offer that ranking involves the supervisor rating each employee based on employees’ traits and behaviors in comparison with the rest in the organisation. Despite its subjective nature, ranking gives a clear picture of employee performance relative to the rest of the employees within the organisation and offers them real models that they can follow within the organisation (Coens, Jenkins & Block, 2002). However, Griffin (2007) offers that ranking method is prone to bias and can result in poor relationships within work teams. Besides, ranking stifles the opportunity for feedback within an organization and sows a feeling of inferiority among underachievers (Coens, Jenkins & Block, 2002). In the same way, Coens, Jenkins and Block note that persons who are consistently ranked on top of the rest lack an opportunity to improve on their performance as they feel they have done enough. Lastly, Beach (2007) explains that ranking creates an adversarial relationship between work teams that stifles the spirit of cooperation between employees.

Paired comparison resembles ranking method only that the performance of each employee is compared to that of every other employee based on a single criterion (Mondy, 2008). If an employee receives the highest number of favorable comparisons, s/he is ranked the highest. The process is more objective compared to the ranking method but poses huge problems for organizations with large numbers of employees (Mondy, 2008).

Another performance appraisal system commonly used in organizations is the graphic rating scale. Under the system, evaluators judge performance of employees on a scale of about 5-7 categories (Mondy, 2008). These categories depict the rating of the employees by use of appropriate adjectives such as needs improvement, outstanding, average, meets expectations etc. The method is good in that it can be quantified by assigning numeric values to the descriptors. It is also easy to administer and can be tailored to meet specific needs of a given organization (Mondy, 2008).

Under the forced distribution method, the evaluator assigns individuals to a limited number of categories, similar to the normal frequency distribution curve. Few individuals get very high ratings while a few get very low ratings. Most of the employees rate at the center of the curve (Armstroong, 2009). Mathis and Jackson (2011) decry that this system explicitly calls for evaluators to distinguish between winners and losers even if their performance is not rightly so. For this reason, the method is unpopular among managers and employees as it stifles the concept of employee development and assumes that there must always be very good and very poor performers in the same organisation (Mathis & Jackson, 2011). It also creates cutthroat competition among employees that disarrays synergy (Beach, 2007).

Another employee appraisal technique is called critical incident method. Under the method, the evaluator maintains records of favorable and unfavorable performance during critical incidences (Mondy, 2008). These incident log records are maintained continually and are used as indicators of employee performance. Ostrom and Wilhelmsen (2012) explain that this method lacks intellectual merit as it is dependent on the frequency of occurrence of critical incidences.

Behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS) is an appraisal technique that aspects of critical incident method and the rating scale method (Mondy, 2008). Under the method, the performance level of each employee is described on a scale. The evaluator then compares the different performance of each employee to decide the best performing and those in need of more training. Mondy offers that this system is more objective but is hard to quantify for further analysis.

One of the most common performance appraisal methods today is referred to as Management by Objective (MBO). Mathis and Jackson (2011) and Mondy (2008) define the method as a result based system under which the employees and managers set objectives together that form the basis of appraisal in the next appraisal period. The employee actual output is compared to the set performance targets and points of improvements identified (Griffin, 2007). Management by objectives arises allows management to see the wider picture of the organsaitional and the part that each employee plays in it and to remain on curse to achieving the overall strategic objectives of the firm (Drucker, 1954). Employees also conduct a self-audit of their performance potential and chart out the best course for attaining the mutually agreed goals (Pecora, Cherin & Bruce, 2009).

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2.3.4 Frequency of Performance Appraisals.

In most organizations, employees and their supervisors deliberate on their performance over a given period typically annually, biannually or quarterly (Garber, 2004). Tripathi and Reddy (2008) list two major forms of performance appraisal namely summative and formative. They explain that a summative performance is done occasionally typically in three to six months relative to the organization in question. On the contrary, formative appraisal is done continually typically daily. Formative appraisals are important in that the employees can track their performance over time and determine their weak points for improvement. This is as opposed to summative appraisals under which employees have no trail of their past performance (Management Study Guide, 2012).

Many scholars emphasis on the need to perform appraisals based on a schedule (Miller & Braswell, 2010; London, 2003; Mathis & Jackson, 2011). Routine performance appraisal avoids the temptation of focusing on irrelevant activities (London, 2003). That said, the management is responsible for ensuring continuous performance appraisal taking care not to forget critical incidences (Miller & Braswell, 2010). Though appraisal is done continually according to the set schedule, it is important for the managers and subordinates to sustain informal communication throughout the performance period to take advantage of any opportunity to change negative trend (Edwards, 2003). Edwards et al also cites the preemption of negative surprises at the end of an appraisal period as good reasons for maintenance of these informal contacts. Abbey (2007) notes that in most organizations, appraisal forms are used to capture employee’s accomplishment in the past year as well as some aspects such as their relationships with team members, their personality traits and flexibility, etc.

2.3 Challenges are faced in Performance Appraisal process

Most organizations experience challenges in their appraisal processes. Deming (2000) once cited that performance appraisal is one of the most powerful inhibitor to quality and productivity. More recently, Lee (2006) offered that performance appraisals inspire hate and distrust among employees. Challenges in performance appraisal occur from the fact that the processes are based on widely held and invalid assumptions that hold back progress (Scholtes, 2008). Lee aptly described the processes as designed to measure and rate performance as opposed to improve it.

Past research works (DeNisi & Williams, 1988; Longenecker et al., 1987) cite subjectivity among the evaluators as well as different standards used for different employees as major problems in appraisal process. More recently, Lee (2006) cited lack of congruence with organizational objectives as well as lack of use of the results to improve performance. Lee adds that the results of performance appraisal should be used to motivate employees as opposed to instill fear and loathing as to stifle the spirit of teamwork. Hazard, (2004) and Nickols (2010) explain that performance appraisal demotivates the employees, is too subjective and unfair in application, and takes too much time and is seen as a management attempt to coerce employees to submit to management authority.

2.3.1 Employees Motivation

Wilheir (2010) explains that motivation is the only effective tool for ensuring effective employee management. According to Wilheir employees, lose motivation when duties become repetitive, too difficult or too easy. The management should ensure that their employees remain motivated and productive throughout their engagement in the organization (Hazelden, 2010). Hazelden (2010) adds that the most common causes of employee demotivation include lack of information, unrealistic expectation by management, feeling of excessive control by authorities and lack of management appreciation of effort. Noone (2008) adds that to keep employees motivated, the management should develop clear goals and keep the roles interesting for the employees. That way, Noore asserts that employees are unlikely to deviate from the organisational mission. .

Employee motivation is crucial to achieving the goals of continuous improvement (Lee, 2010). In his analysis of an earlier study by Lillrank, et al. (2001), Lee pointed out that employees need to be highly motivated have the ability to do what they are asked to and know exactly what is expected of them. In addition, employees need to feel valued and appreciated and be involved in setting their own goals.

2.3.2 Appraisal Results

Results of performance appraisal exercise must be made available to the employee (Lee, 2010). Results, whether positive or negative, ought to be discussed just as the goals were set in a mutual manner. Coens and Jenkins (2002) have demonstrated that an employee and end up demoralizing him/her if it is less flattering than that of a coworker or a previous appraisal can receive even positive feedback negatively. In the same light, others including Kohn (1999) have demonstrated that positive performance results can also be received negatively if the exercise is seen as controlling and thus damages the relationship between managers and workers. Other scholars have demonstrated that positive results handled in the right manner motivate employees and create a harmonious coexistence supportive of teamwork and continuous improvement (Rath, 2006; Lee 2010)

Mohrman et al, (1994) attributes the rejection of negative results to employee’s wrongful assessment of their own competences and capabilities. Mohrman et al explains that manifests in many forms including discrediting the source and a general lack of interest in the results. Maltz (2008) adds that employees might view recommendation for improvements as an expression of inadequacy in their performance.

Consistent with employees’ resistance to change because of lack of information, worries about their new place in the organisation and their skill gaps (Geneen, 1997; Boswell & Boudreau, 2001), it is likely that the culture of the organisation must be aligned to fit in the new paradigm (Boswell & Boudreau, 2001). As such, effective performance management system is achievable only if employees understand the role and importance of performance management to both their careers and the organisation at large (Geneen, 1997).

2.3.3 Integrating Individual and Organizational Goals.

With the changing business environment, organizations need to change in tandem to remain relevant to their operating environments (Kotter, 2011). In the same way, the individual needs keep changing with time as aptly indicated in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs(Anderson& Anderson, 2001) ). Therefore, both the individual employees and the environment they are in keeps changing and the management needs to align the objectives of both to pull towards common objectives (McLeod, 2007).

A good system of performance appraisal system ensures that the employees fully understand their respective role within the organizational hierarchy (Hunt, 2007). Hunt adds that a poor appraisal system bars career growth and development within organizations. In Hunts view, demotivation sets in once the individual feels his goals are subordinated to those of the organisation. Insubordination of individual goals has also been attributed to lower performance (Pettigre, 2002) and turnover (Boswell & Boudreau, 2001). As a result, goals need to be aligned to achieve the overarching organisational mission.

2.4 What are the Best Practices for Performance Appraisals?

In their research, Katsanis et al. (1996) came up with several recommendations for appraising performance. They explained that the practice must gain support of both human resources and top management, must be based on both qualitative and quantitative criteria, must be consultative, has no distinct periods but its regular, and be responsive to the environmental forces and their effect on the organization. Lawler (2000) adds that the system should not lay a lot of emphasis on ratings and rankings but rather should be aimed at encouraging developmental meetings between managers and employees.

.2.4.1 Job description

Job descriptions should change in response to the changing demands of the operating environment (Hunt, 2007). However, changes in job description should be done in consultation with the employees so as not to create insecurity in employees (Sims, 2007). Sims describes three stages in job description; Job Analysis

Job analysis is the starting point in the development of a job description. Hunt describes job analysis as a breakdown of the tasks that need to be undertaken by a particular employee, ranking them in terms of importance and frequency. It involves collecting data relates to and analyzing it to get standard time for performing set tasks and resources needed (Tomar, 2010). Tomar offers that job analysis assists organizations in recruitment, selection and posting of applicants as matches can be fitted as closely as possible. Tomar adds that the process is helpful in determining the value that the jobs add in the organization’s value chain.

Nash (2008) offers that job analysis is a precursor to job descriptions. Nash adds that job analysis puts to light the similarities and differences of the various roles in the organization and the right people are assigned to the right jobs. As such, job analysis involves observing keenly people performing a job or asking for their daily logs of tasks performed from the supervisor to get a view of the nature of the job. Job Description

Once analysis has been conducted, the next step is the job description. Hunt defines a job description as a list of deliverables expected from the holder of a certain job and forms the basis of conducting an appraisal (Malmi & Brown, 2008). Pearce (2007) explains that a job description creates clarity by listing the expectations of the role upon which performance will be compared. Pearce adds that job description eliminates chances of misunderstanding between the employee and their supervisors as it provides a reference tool in case responsibilities are unclear.

Malmi and Brown state that outlines the basic information about a position, reporting lines available for its holder, tasks under the job, and the requisite qualifications for the job including qualification and experience and the time allowed for performance of the tasks. Hunt added that the conditions of employment for the holder should be stated. Prior research on job description found that good job descriptions with well defined job procedures, priorities and goals leads to higher degree of learning as focus shifts to performance improvement as opposed to the roles under the job (Lawler, Mohrman and Resnick, 1984). The Person Specification.

Hunt asserts that there is no adequate research on the relationship between personal traits and a particular job owing to the differences in character among personalities. He therefore offers that describing an employee character entails describing the characteristics that are essential for performance in a particular job as well as those traits that predispose one to poor performance. Rakowski (2006) offers that person analysis is critical in the determining training needs in case of engagement as well as gauging capacity for performance within the job and organizational context.

2.4.2 How Is Performance Appraisal Conducted? Developing Key Performance Indicators

Parmenter (2007) defines a performance indicator as a set of values against which performance is measured. They are expressed as a percentage, as a rate, or index or other comparison. Parmenter further explains that performance is monitored at regular intervals to deduce underlying trends (Reh, 2010). According to Reh, performance indicators are depictions of the organizations values and philosophy as well as its clients and their (client’s) needs. Reh adds that performance indicators express the aims of the organisation as at a given time.

Key performance indicators offer employees a summarized view of what is important and what they need to achieve in a specified time. Reh (2010) explains that all the employee’s undertaking within the organisation is focused on meeting and exceeding the set KPIs. In most organizations, KPI are illustrated in a diagrammatic representation to make employees internalize what is expected of them within the entire organization value chain (Rankonda, 2010). Rankonda adds that clear depiction of KPI’s facilitates professional growth of all employees and boosts productivity due to clarity of objectives.

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Fiksel (2002) explains that setting performance indicators involves first identifying the areas that make business successful and then developing appropriate performance measures in those areas. In any given business, there are a number of identifiable performance areas or tasks upon which the success of the entire organisation is based (Parrmeter, 2007). Brudan (2011) came up with guidelines for setting key performance indicators in organizations. He explained that KPIs should not be taken as performance indicators but rather as critical goals set for achieving organisational objectives. He adds that managers should not replicate KPI’s from other organizations as they might not be compatible across organizations. Differences in organizational operational scales, maturity and standard operating procedures limit their transferability across different organizations. KPI’s should be nonfinancial in nature and should not be viewed as targets (Brudan, 2010). They should also be measured frequently such as daily as their effectiveness in guiding organisational performance cannot be realized if measurement is not frequent. After measurement, management should produce reports on the areas of good performance (Brudan, 2010). Brudan also states that performance indicators should be tied to a team or an individual who has responsibility over the metric. He also states that measures under the performance indicators must be understood by all the employees in the organization and the respective corrective action that need to be taken once indicators point to weak performance. As Nelson (2010) notes, KPIs are critical determinants to the success of any organisation. Performance Indicators in Practice

Wiley (2010) explained that Key Performance Indicators provide the missing link between balanced scorecard and performance management. The balanced scorecard, an invention of Robert Kaplan is a management tool that is used to keep track of activities by staff within their control as well as monitoring the consequences arising from their action (Niven, 2006). Dochy, Segers and Wijnen (1990) listed the four major uses of KPI as for evaluation, monitoring, planning and prompting dialogue in the organisation. Evaluation refers to the comparison of degree of attainment of goals set against the set goals. Monitoring helps managers record development in the system while planning involves setting future courses of action in the light of present circumstances. Performance indicators facilitate the establishment of a coherent policy making process and improve coordination among various departments within an organisation. Finally, performance indicators facilitate automation and therefore faster development of solution to identified problems (Coronel, 2011).

2.4.3 Recommendations for Effective Performance Management Senior Management Commitment

The role of senior management in the process of performance management within organizations has been widely documented (Geneen, 1997; Marshak, 2005). Marshak explains that without senior management commitment and leadership, performance management initiatives are bound to fail. The views are also supported by Bradford and Burke (2009) who observed that senior managers should aim at preempting the possibility of performance lag as opposed to dealing with poor results that have already been realized. In essence, when performance stalls, it is an indication of failure of management to foresee and preempt such a possibility (Dunbrack, 2005).

The senior managers are also crucial in production pro­cess improvement that is in turn a major performance booster (Marr & Schiuma, 2003). Marr and Schiuma explain that the senior managers must be at the forefront in under­standing and internalizing the culture and behavior that will boost process and performance improvement. Support must be in both words and deeds (Marshak, 2005). That way, the rest of the organization will naturally follow suit Visionary action will con­vince the senior manager’s peers and sub­ordinate mana­gers to support the effort as well and forces of resistance can­not derail the effort. Sheard (2001) reinforces this view explaining that the senior man­agers need to set example in a manner that is visi­ble to their subordinates as the custodians of the continuous change effort. Benchmarking

Geneen (1997) and Kirby (2005) cite that effective performance management in organizations is sustainable only if performance results are compared with set standards on a continuous basis. After comparison, aspects that fall below the benchmarks are investigated and corrective action is taken o ensure that future performance falls within the set parameters. Hutton(2012) defines benchmarking as a disciplined process that identifies organizations that excel in a given area of focus, investigates their basis for success, projects the performance gains achievable and sets performance goals based on the projections. Identifying the source of outstanding performance allows organizations to borrow best practices and thus reduce waste while boosting efficiency. The last stage of benchmarking process is where organizations adopt the ideas and best practices chosen (Hutton, 2012). Performance Management System

The choice of a particular performance management system affects the output of an organization (Bacal, 1999; Daniels, 2006). Daniels explains that a good performance management system opens up dialogue about improving performance in a friendly and participative manner. As a result, the confidence level among employees rises and stress levels fall. Conaty and Ram (2011) add that the frequent performance reviews often result in identification of emerging needs of the business for achievement of set objectives. Defined performance review periods motivate employees and prompt them to ask for necessary support from management.

Effective performance management makes performance appraisals become relevant for every employee regardless of his/her cadre (Schraeder, Becton & Portis, 2007). Schraeder, Becton and Portis offer that frequent reviews facilitate early adjustments in line with the fast changing operating environment. In addition, effective performance management reveals the frequent nonperformers both departments and individuals for further action to be taken. In this light, the organization can make the need adjustments to strategy to ensure that the firm stays on course to achieving its objectives. Alternatively, if it is evident that the objectives cannot be met, the expectations can be modified appropriately. Sudarsan (2009) further adds that a good performance management system obligates all employees and the management to evaluate all their objectives before holding them as deliverable. Sudarsan aptly points out that it is only through an elaborate performance management system that employees and managers can commit to a performance and development plan a point at which organisational learning begins. This way, all stakeholders are able to work together for the common achievement of the organizational goals without grabbing credit or buck passing (DeNisi & Pritchard, 2006).

Performance management assists managers in development of dashboards (Eckerson, 2005). A dashboard is a single-screen presentation of the most important information needed in the performance of a given job. The dashboard concept gained prominence following the Enron scandal that highlighted how organizations need to have control over their organizations (Few, 2006). Few adds that shareholders require the management to have a grip on all organisational activities more so its finances. Dennis (2006) compares informational dashboards to that of conventional automobiles noting that one pays attention to a few of the measures displayed such as speedometer and fuel gauge. The rest such as temperature and oil pressure are checked only when there is a major problem. This way, management effort is applied to the critical activities leaving the rest when there is no major problem.

2.5 Chapter Summary

Chapter 2 is an overview of various scholarly works in the subject of performance management in line with the objectives of this study. Each section is dedicated to a subject within the wider discipline of performance management. Chapter 3 is a description of the procedures and methods that were used to carry out the study. It explains the adopted research and sampling design, method of data collection and the data analysis procedures.



3.1 Introduction

This chapter is a description of the conduct of the study. It examines the research design, the size of the sample and population studied, methods of data collection, research procedures used, data analysis techniques applied and the methods of presentation. The objective of the study was to identify the performance appraisal system, the main challenges faced in the appraisal process and the best practices that KUC can adopt for performance appraisals.

3.2 Research Design

The study was conducted using a survey research design. Survey technique involves collecting primary data from respondents using questionnaires (Cooper & Schindler, 2011). Cooper and Schindler recommended that the responses must be recorded for analysis and a questionnaire sample be indicated as appendix to the report.

Survey research design was chosen due to its ease o collecting different types of information. Compared to the rest, the design was one of the most efficient means of gathering the information about the population as it is fast, accurate and inexpensive.

3.3 Population and Sampling

3.3.1 Population

Cooper and Schindler regard population definition as the first and most critical step in the sampling process. They define a population as the total collection of all elements about which inference will be made (Cooper & Schindler 2011). Weeks (2001) also defines a research population as a set of objects, individuals or items from where a statistical sample can be drawn.

In this study, the population comprised of faculty working at Karatina University College School of Business.

3.3.2 Sampling Design Sampling Frame

This is the list of all those within the population that qualify for sampling (Deming, 1966; Cooper & Schindler, 2011). This study used the population of the faculty in the School of Business at the Karatina University College. They include faculty working at the four departments namely Business and Entrepreneurship, Human Resource Development, Tourism and Hospitality Management and Economics and National Development. Sampling Technique

The sample will be determined in a manner that will facilitate testing of some hypotheses about the population (Cooper and Schindler, 2011). In this case, the study will adopt a convenience sampling approach using available respondents in the various departments. Sample Size

Smith (2009) defined a sample size as the number of observations used to estimate population parameters. In this study, a sample refers to the number of participants who are selected to fill the questionnaires.

The sample size for this research was estimated as 50% of the total number of full time faculty at the school of business. The level of confidence was 95% and the margin of error taken as acceptable was 6%.

As noted, the research design for this research is based on a simple random (convenient) sample, the following is a calculation of the sample size required was done as follows;

n = z² x p(1-p)


 n = required sample size

z = confidence level at 95% (standard value of 1.96)

p = estimated full time faculty at the school of business

m = margin of error at 6% (standard value of 0.06)

n= 1.96² x .005(1-.0.05)  


 n = 3.8416x .0.0475 


n = .0182


n = 50.68 ~ 51

3.4 Data Collection Methods

Primary data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. In addition, supplements of secondary data were used to add efficacy to the results. The questionnaires were administered on randomly chosen members of faculty in the staff room.

The questionnaire had two sections with section one giving demographic information with/without the name of respondent while section two measured their levels of perception of variables on performance management.

3.5 Research Procedures

The questionnaires used in the research were designed based on specific objectives. Questions asked were standardized for validity and reliability before the questionnaires administration. In the pretesting phase, grammatical and typographical errors were checked to ensure the questions were interpreted as intended.

3.6 Data Analysis Methods

Being a descriptive study, descriptive statistics were used including percentages and frequencies. This was made possible by first inputting data into SPSS and later tabulating and analyzing it to bring out the underlying relationships. The results were presented in tables in the analysis for each objective.

3.7 Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the conduct of the study. It examined the research design, the size of the sample and population studied, methods of data collection, research procedures used, data analysis techniques applied and the methods of presentation. The next chapter presents the findings of this research.

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