Question 3 (Keith)

Why might executives intentionally inflate or deflate a performance appraisal?
Longenecker, Sims, & Gioila article "Behind the Mask: The Politics of Employee Appraisal".

Rather than accuracy, managers care more about discretion, effectiveness, and survival. General reasons why managers are often politically-minded when conducting PA's:

think about impact, ramifications, employee's future, relationships; think about fallout and having to continue working with subordinates; emotional variability; ulterior motives, protecting self interest; doing what is perceived as best;

Executives must live with subordinates in day-to-day relationships.
Cognizant of the permanence of the written document.
Links to compensation and career advancement.
Help keep employees happy and motivated.

HR sometimes pushes ratings to fit available merit allowances.

ISSUES DEPENDING ON THE ORGANIZATION'S POLITICAL CLIMATE & CULTURE:
not taking the process seriously; lack of training; lack of top management support (modeling effect by executives - poor examples); economic health and growth potential of the organization; executive perception of the value of the PA process; whether or not PA's will be seriously scrutinized, reviewed, and evaluated by superiors - political influence reduced; degree of open communication and trust between executives & subordinates; depends on the appraiser's level in the hierarchy.

Inflating the PA:
Goal and intent is to maintain or increase subordinate's future level of performance. People aspect - appraisers not wanting to be the "bad guy". The overall rating is most often inflated since that's mostly what employees care about. This may lead to backward reviews with the overall rating having an influence on the specific areas of the PA.
JUSTIFICATIONS: maximize merit increases; protect or encourage someone with temporary personal problems; feeling sorry for someone; to avoid "hanging dirty laundry out in public" if PA is to be reviewed outside of the unit; verbal evaluation may be more accurate than the permanent written record;

Avoid perceived unnecessary confrontation.
Recent improvement (momentum and progress).
Recognize effort.


Sometimes to promote problem employees up and out; avoid having to deal with problems.

Deflating the PA:
Managers are hesitant and not as likely to deflate ratings due to subsequent problems.
Jolt/shock employee to raise performance to meet expectations.
Teach a lesson to rebellious employees.
Part of a termination procedure (send an indirect message).

Managers attempting to protect themselves, leaving out positives; Documentation indicating poor performance provides justification and protection from lawsuits.

SUMMARY: Belief of justifiable reasons; feeling of inherent discretion; attempts to minimize barriers between managers and subordinates.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Carefully choose when to alter PA's based on overall effect on the organization. Cultivate openness and trust. Support by management; training on how and why; open discussion on political aspects. minimize unecessary access to PA's; use to motivate and reward; use discretion for effectiveness.

Lecture briefly discussed perceptual errors and bias; cognitive errors (halo, recency, attribution, self-enhancement); proximal influences (self efficacy, organizational climate).