Some objectives are more important than others. And some sections of the form may be more important than others. For example, although most managers would feel that both competencies and objectives are important, it is more important to do a better job at producing results than it is to do a good job in demonstrating the competencies. Obviously, not all objectives are of equal importance to the organization. Should the form reflect the fact that some objectives are more critical than others?
Weighting is a matter best left up to the manager and the individual to discuss during the performance-planning discussion. Trying to provide for predetermined weights for various sections of the performance appraisal form that will apply to a broad range of jobs is probably not going to be useful.
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During the performance-planning discussion, the manager and subordinate should discuss the relative importance of the items to be accomplished in the upcoming year. Although developing a specific index of relative priority might help the worker make good decisions when faced with conflicting priorities, the ultimate accuracy of these weightings is questionable. Individual situations that require discretional judgment cannot be predicted in advance (and the likelihood of a change in priorities during the appraisal period is high).
The primary benefit to specifying the relative priority among different objectives may be in providing general guidance to the subordinate on where he should concentrate his efforts over the year, rather than providing a formal multiplier for use in assessing the overall performance rating and recommending the resultant salary change.
If an appraisal form is crammed with predetermined weights, managers will be reduced to making statements like ‘‘Let’s see, Fosdick, on your first objective I rated you as superior but since that had only a relative weight of .3 it becomes ultimately less influential than the ‘barely meets standard’ I assigned you on the second objective with a priority value of. . . .’’ This is foolishness. No value is gained through this exercise in managerial numerology.
It is best to keep the weighting process simple and, if possible, optional. Assigning different weights to different objectives can indicate clearly that some are more important than others. Providing predetermined weights can also perform the more important task of highlighting objectives whose importance changes during the course of an appraisal year, or indicating the relative importance of key job responsibilities versus competencies. The best approach is usually to encourage managers to discuss the relative importance of varying performance factors during the performance-planning meeting. Managers and subordinates, in the course of setting objectives and entering them on the form, might be asked to provide no more than A, B, C, or high, medium, low indications of relative priority.