As “competency based approaches to management development are most likely to be useful in large, mechanistic bureaucratic organisations which have clearly delineated roles and functions that are well documented” (Toohey, 1995, p125), information technology professionals may face difficulties in adjusting to this style of control.
“Faster and more flexible ways to respond to management development needs may be what is required in the present turbulent management environment” (Toohey, 1995, p126) of IT where change is a daily aspect of the job. IT roles are often fairly autonomous in nature, requiring a large degree of independence. Bureaucratic systems of control generally leave IT professionals feeling they are being watched too closely. Also unless supervisors are given a structure to work from, their observations may reflect their own biases, rather than the objective performance of employees (Lane, 2004) as they are not trained in behavioural assessment skills.
Lansbury (1995) argues that in performance appraisal there are conflicting strains and prospects for both employers and employees. The ideal approach to performance management is thus an intangible goal. Lansbury further remarks that, “a well-designed system, based on objective performance criteria negotiated between management and employees, and providing for two-way feedback and communication, may achieve worthwhile outcomes” (Lansbury, 1995, p. 141).
The aim of a performance appraisal is to (Stone, 2002):
1. improve employees’ work performance by helping them to realize and use their full potential in carrying out their firm’ s missions;
2. to provide information to employees and managers for use in making work-related decisions.
Specifically, appraisals may be seen to provide legal and formal organizational justification for employment decisions to promote outstanding performers while also to removing the marginal and low performers (Williams, 2002). They are also functional as a method to train, transfer and discipline others while justifying merit increases/no increases. Finally they are also the foundation of a legal method to reduce the size of the workforce.
Toohey (1995) advocates that appraisal results are correlated with test result from management studies in order to evaluate the hypothesis that test scores predict job performance. Appraisals also present feedback to employees allowing them to use the results to further their own personal and career development goals. This may also present both the employee and management with opportunities to develop and instigate training programs.
Toohey (1995) also notes that the appropriate specifications of performance levels developed from appraisals can help detect “organisational problems by identifying training needs and the knowledge, abilities, skills, and other characteristics to consider in hiring”. Appraisals are the commencement of the process, rather than the end result as they provide a basis for distinguishing amongst successful and unproductive employees.