September 23, 2023


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Unfair Practices in Performance Management System

The rationale behind the existence of almost every organization in the world is to grow and prosper keeping in view the concern for employees and society as a whole. Organizations have different objectives to exist. Some organizations generate revenues while others require sufficient capital for satisfying greater interest of the general public. The organization follows a chain of command and forms a pyramid. Standards set by the top management are achieved by the employees for efficient working of the organization. Subsequently employees need to be evaluated on certain standards as to identify competent individuals for succession planning.

Policies are designed by the upper management for recruitment & selection, training & development, compensation & benefits and career development. Being one of the most crucial exercises for any organization, ample time is dedicated to this activity. It lays the pillars for the Human Resource Department for further actions. It has been observed that the policies are either not set appropriately, sometimes not communicated well to the people who are going to implement, and if communicated well then there are problems in the implementation. Devising the right policies for employees evaluation is the foundation of the entire system, how would be the employees appraised, who will appraise them, when the process shall take place, how often to conduct the exercise, and what is one supposed to look for in an employee while appraising him, are all very important elements while devising the overall evaluation plan. Very few organizations realize the fact that if errors are made at any step, it will not only ruin the career of an individual but also negatively affect the performance of the organization. Majority of the organizations not realizing the importance of this appraisal process, conduct the exercise as merely a routine process.

As highlighted earlier, policies are made to run the system in a befitting and most effective manner but it is normally observed that at times the system does not run well and most of the employees are not satisfied with the input/outcome ratio. There are multiple reasons of which few are discussed in this article. A main reason is that many a times HR evaluation system is comparatively more prone to outside factors such as individual biases. It is observed that few personnel having authority in the organization try to manipulate policies & set criteria, show favouritism towards known individuals, discourage bright & talented employees who do not work according to their will, etc.

One major reason for unfair evaluation practices in government organizations in Pakistan is that management provide undue favours and definitive incentives to the employees being covertly asked by influential authorities. Hence when employees are promoted on the billet to be filled in, the deserving candidates are left behind in their career progression and incompetent employees move up the hierarchy. All the employees who witness such unfair treatment in the organization get demotivated and loose pure sense of dedication to their job. It is seen that organizations where employees are unequal treated shows high turnover. This dilemma is to be seriously dealt by the top management.

Another root cause of playing with the system is in organizations where Board of Directors or CEOs are frequently changed also face various problems; new management comes up with their own personality based policies. The change in such policies ultimately wipes out the long term HR consistency and considered unfruitful in all respect. Whereas, as per HR ethics, the result of certain set policy become visible after several years. Thus if every new authority would dictate fresh policy to be implemented then employees will never be able to show steadiness in their performance and would also adversely affects the overall evaluation standard.

It has also been noticed that individuals with assertive and dominating personalities, though unable to produce desired results normally get promoted easily. These individuals influence their bosses and other people around them, with their pleasing and extrovert traits. Not necessarily such employees are productive and proficient; they overshadow the competent but introvert employees who are the real asset for any organization.

Unequal distribution of job task is another reason of unfair appraisal, when employees are evaluated on their job description. Some are overburdened and underperform while others perform smartly because of their relaxed workload. In some cases Incompetent Managers often get jealous and threatened by their subordinates & peer and don’t conduct their fair assessment keeping in view that these subordinates if promoted would replace them someday.

It is hoped that reader would agree with the above mentioned reasons, though being just few of the many causes producing unfairness in the evaluation process. Some thought provoking questions arises; is fairness in the performance evaluation process ever possible? What can be done to avoid all human bias? Who is responsible for prejudiced conduct of such practices? Will the human element always interfere in the process or there are methods that can eliminate the human factor? If such questions are addressed timely at appropriate level, fairness in evaluation process can be ensured and organizations can achieve desired outcomes and considering employees satisfaction.

Written by: Sobia Shujaat
Senior Lecturer, Bahria University Karachi Campus.