Abraham, S.E., Karns, L.A., Shaw, K., and Mena, M.A., (2001), ‘Managerial competencies and the managerial performance appraisal process’, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 20, No. 10, pp. 842-852, MCB University Press.
Abraham et al’s (2001) study initially surveys the literature concerning the term “competency”, identifying that there is some disagreement over the definition of a personal or managerial competency. However essentially, competency is referred to be inclusive of “panoply of characteristics, behaviours and traits necessary for successful job performance” (Abraham et al. 2001). With competencies defined, the article is then quick to establish the connection between competencies and effective performance management, and this adeptly captured by Pickett’s (1998) statement:
Managerial competencies provide a sound basis for an effective performance management program. Using the information obtained during the review of competencies required by the job and those possessed by the person performing that job, an integrated process can be introduced linking competencies with the annual performance review program and the determination of objectives.
The crucial part in that statement identifies that is it vital to review competencies required for the job, and compare with the competencies a person possesses as a part of the organizations performance management and appraisal system. Consequently, the main aim of Abraham et al’s (2001) study was to determine if companies assess and appraise their management employees on the same competencies that they identify as being necessary for success in a managerial role.
On the surface, this standpoint appears to make perfect sense. Organisations ideally should appraise their people on the components they identify as crucial in achieving success as guided by the organisations strategic objectives. Moreover, Grote (2000) asserts that core competencies can be easily identified, and then highlighted, communicated and reinforced via the organizations performance appraisal system. However many organisations do not follow this basic premise.
For instance, findings in a study conducted by Pettijohn et al (2001) indicate that the criteria used are not always the ones that salespeople for instance, view as being the most appropriate. Generally, the literature indicates that behavioural criteria is preferred over more results-based output criteria, as proponents argue that these criteria are subject to a greater degree of self-control than output criteria (Churchill et al (1985); Challagalla and Shervani (1996); Oliver and Anderson (1994). Despite this Jackson, Schlacter and Wolfe’s (1995), study of 215 sales managers indicated that the criterion was most based output related to sales volume. Hence, although behavioural competencies which have a significant potential to impact on company culture and the way an organisation operates, are identified as being important they are not adeptly reflected upon in performance appraisal. This then impacts on the employee’s self efficacy in terms of what competencies employees believe are achievable, and which ones they have the power to influence successful results.
Comparably, Abraham et al’s (2001) study reflects these findings in their study, illuminating that “for every one of the 23 competencies surveyed, the percentage of organisations that identified a competency as describing the successful manager was substantially greater than the percentage of organizations that used the same competency as a criterion in the performance appraisal process”. The data indicates that organizations are not appraising their employees on the competencies they deem to be most crucial to business success, which then places huge limitations on the effectiveness of the performance appraisal system and subsequently, the way in which organizations facilitate improved performance from its employees.
Does your organization assess its employees on the competencies they deem to be most crucial for success?
Have a look at this example.