Evolution and Change
Chapter 15: Performance appraisal and beyond: Directions for future research and application
Having established our viewpoint that performance appraisal systems (PASs) are here to stay, in this chapter we identify what we regard as two examples of essential future research directions and practice in performance appraisal, the ultimate goal of which is the search for ways to improve performance ratings that lead (directly or indirectly) to enhanced employee satisfaction and motivation and performance in the workplace. In the light of the shifting road map of performance appraisal (PA) research and practice, and the associated comments interspersed throughout this volume (including the tenuous nature of the new-age evaluation strategies), we have taken a guarded, yet optimistic position on the future role of performance ratings (within the context of performance management best practices), that lead us to argue for fresh approaches to this challenge. Moving forward, we reaffirm that management should address its key questions concerning employee evaluation in the larger context of defining the performance appraisal mission, its ultimate goals, and the means to achieve them for the betterment of the workforce and society as a whole. Thus, future research will, and must, go beyond the relatively narrow search for rating format criteria; the research will need to incorporate a multitude of factors, many of which we have touched upon in this book. In the vein of this discussion, we conclude our volume by presenting two innovative, conflicting approaches to the status of the individual in the appraisal system. The first, presented by DeNisi and Smith (2014), argues that in future research on performance management systems (PMSs), individual-level performance as the major dependent variable (‘the research on which has been exhausted’) should be abandoned in favor of research on the intermediary processes and practices that influence firm-level outcome – and the authors discuss further how this might be achieved. In sharp contrast, Rabenu and Tziner (2016) present a model of informal performance appraisal that is a personalized performance appraisal (PPA) – based on the notion from positive psychology that every employee has individual strengths and virtues – that is amenable and appropriate to the constant changes in organizations’ structure, in particular, and to the work world, in general. The paper describes the rationale behind the model and research findings to support the propositions and the positive effects upon worker motivation and performance. Beyond its substantive content and contribution to the literature, this latter paper serves a critical purpose in the context of this volume: it finally brings us back to where we started, namely, the place of the individual worker, that very important individual that we touched upon in our opening chapter – our revered employee – who almost got lost in the turbulence of argumentation and research over the decades and in the shuffle of our pages. A fitting finale, Rabenu and Tziner’s proposal is in many ways a microcosm of the themes discussed in this volume. This forward-thinking proposal is, in the authors’ view, an example of the type of new thinking necessary in the changing atmosphere in the workplace. The proposal, they argue, is a prototype that finds a balance between the old and the new, between the individual and the collective (the firm). The authors conclude with the hope and trust that this volume, in general, and the PPA model, in particular, have left the reader with food for thought and the impetus to generate new ideas and prototype proposals among both researchers and practitioners. And this, ‘for the sake of the complete enterprise that is our conglomerate of businesses, companies and corporations, and for the good of society as a whole’.
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