Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ethics Involving Performance Appraisals

Margaret Johnson

"Ethics should be the cornerstone of performance evaluation, and the overall objective of high ethical performance reviews should be to provide an honest assessment of the performance and mutually develop a plan to improve the rate's effectiveness." (Suresh, 2011)

Performance Appraisals
          Performance appraisals are a great tool for employers to evaluate how their employees have been performing at their company. They can be used for administering wages and salaries, giving performance feedback, and identifying individual employee strengths and weaknesses (Mathis, 329). They can also help control the behavior of the employees by rewards, punishments and threats. Appraisals also help with placing their employees in the right type of job or department.
          Performance appraisals are useful for the administrative and developmental aspects of a company. The most important administrative uses are pay adjustments, promoting/demoting, and terminations of employees. These changes are usually derived from the appraisal. The most important developmental uses are being able to identify the strengths and weaknesses, offering training opportunities, and outlining of future career plans.

How They're Measured
          To determine performance appraisals, the management must measure different aspects of the employees job. This will vary from job to job, but for the most part, an employee will be measured on these factors:
·         Quantity of output
·         Quality of output
·         Timeliness of output
·         Presence/attendance on the job
·         Efficiency of work completed
·         Effectiveness of work completed

Examples of Performance Appraisals Forms/guidelines:
          This website provides examples of many different performance evaluation forms that a performance manager might use in an appraisal. It also provides information on each process so the evaluator will know what to look and ask for during their meeting.

Reasons for Unethical Reviews
          Performance managers have been known to skew their results intentionally for many reasons. In a research done by Clinton Longenecker and Dean Ludwig, over 70% of managers did so for the following reasons:
·         Belief that accurate ratings would have a damaging effect on the subordinates motivation and performance
·         The desire to improve an employee's eligibility for merit raises
·         The desire to avoid airing the departments dirty laundry
·         The wish to avoid creating a negative permanent record
·         The need to protect good performers whose performance was suffering because of personal problems
·         The wish to reward employees displaying great effort when results are relatively low
·         The need to avoid confrontation with certain hard-to-manage employees
·         The desire to promote a poor or disliked employee up and out of the department
(Longenecker, 1990) Although this article is dated some years back, it does provide general reasons why a performance manager or an employee may decided to be unethical or bias upon their reviews.

Ethics involved in Performance appraisals
          Having ethics as a manager doing performance appraisals is very important for many reasons. These appraisals can be highly subjective, which can impact the relationships between the managers and the employee being reviewed. There are many different ways that a meeting can do from ethical to unethical. Listed are some of the general appraisal characteristics and an understanding on how it can be unethical:

·         Rewards, punishments and threats
®      These should be used in a positive way. If they are negatively used, it can affect the morale of the employee
®      An appraiser should not be able to reward an employee that he/she likes more than another, when the other is more qualified
·         Reliability and validity
®      The appraiser should provide consistent, reliable, and valid information
·         Job Relatedness
·         Standardization
®      The performance appraisal process, forms, administration techniques, and ratings should be standardized so it affects all employees of the group. For example, if they provide one form or rating system for one employee, they must provide the same for another.
·         Legal Sanction
·         Rater Errors
v  Rater Bias
®      The person filling out the forms and rating the other employee or manager may distort the information by using their own values or prejudices.
v  Similar-to-me/Different-from-me Error
®      This is where the rater creates a bias for a person whose characteristics are similar or different from their own. Instead of measuring the individuals job performance, they end up measuring the individual against another person
·         Training and Appraisers
®      Providing training for the appraisers will help familiarize them with the different rating errors which can improve the rater performance. If they are unaware, they may make these unethical errors during the appraisal
·         Employee Access to Results
®      Feedback is necessary for growth or change to occur. Keeping any results away from the employees is unethical
·         Confidentiality
®      The feedback that the appraiser provides should be confidential. Leaking it to unnecessary employees is unethical

          Performance appraisals are a great way for a company to assess their employees. In a perfect world, the appraiser would leave all bias and unethical decisions away from the meetings. Since this is not always the case, implementing training and awareness for performance managers is a good way for them to become familiar with the unethical possibilities so they can prevent themselves from having them occur during a performance appraisal.

Admin. (July 15, 2006). Managerial Ethics in Performance Appraisals. Retrieved from

Genesis Framework. (2013). Evaluation Forms. Retrieved from

Longenecker, Clinton, & Ludwig, Dean. (Dec, 1990). Ethical Dilemmas in Performance Appraisal Revisited. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 9, no. 12. Retrieved from

Mathis, Robert L., and John H. Jackson. Human Resource Management. 13th ed. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2011. 157-165.  Print.

Suresh, S. (2011). Ethical Issues in Human Resource Management. Management and Labour Studies, Vol. 34, no. 4. Retrieved from


  1. Hi

    Tks very much for post:

    I like it and hope that you continue posting.

    Let me show other source that may be good for community.

    Source: Examples Performance Appraisals

    Best rgs


  2. Performance appraisals are a must in any output-based service industry. Although, as with every assessment instrument, these can be subject to a wide variety of reliability and accuracy impeding devices, such as the various types of bias. The list of reasons why unethical appraisals happen are very real and very widespread. It even happens as early as the hiring phase of employement, and that will snowball in to a bigger problem if left unattended. One solution that I can think of to combat this problem would be to utilize third party consultants, who will be less subject to apparent biases influencing decisons by internal staff. It has a great advantage over the classic strategy, and would certainly benefit the organization in the long-run.

    Donna @

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