Objective Versus Subjective Measures In Human Resources Evaluation

The desirability of objective/formulaic evaluation measures versus subjective/impressionistic measures hinges largely on considerations of strategy, technology, and culture. But either of these alternatives involves a number of complex considerations when it comes time to devise and implement a particular scheme.

Foremost among these complex considerations are perceptions of justice: An evaluation system that is purely subjective the evaluator simply announces whether she thinks the employee’s performance is excellent, good, fair, or poor – is apt to score low on procedural justice, being too susceptible to caprice and bias by the evaluator. Some basis for the evaluation should be offered. But highly formulaic systems, applied in a non formulaic environment different individuals face different challenges, have access to different resources, and so on – are equally apt to be seen as unjust, because they miss all the distinctive factors applying to the individual being evaluated. A compromise scheme that uses objective measures, but tailors the “formula” to the individual situation, invites corruption or at least politicking in the formula – setting process, and as a result can lead to perceptions of procedural injustice.

Schemes that rely on unsupported subjective judgments tend to have negligible administrative costs, but they can impose substantial emotional costs on the evaluator. Schemes that are formulaic, especially when the formula involves data that are easily obtained, are cheap both administratively and in terms of the evaluator, who can throw up her hands and tell her “evaluates” (in quotes because she isn’t really evaluating anyone): “It’s the system.”

Formulaic schemes tend to score well on reliability. However, depending on the environment, they can score poorly on validity. On the other hand, schemes that rely on subjective judgments that must be documented and supported are perhaps the most costly to maintain, but they do provide evaluators with some cover when dealing with employees who are unhappy with the evaluations they received.

In trying to strike the right balance here, many organizations have begun experimenting with having evaluations done by multiple sources. This can take a variety of forms: a literal committee – based evaluation process, where the committee typically includes the immediate superior of the person being evaluated; gathering input from multiple constituencies, such as subordinates, peers, and clients; or aggregating assessments obtained from multiple independent persons, all representing the same constituency. The hope is that the greater number and diversity of evaluation inputs can produce overall assessments that not only are more reliable and valid in a statistical sense, but more legitimate and informative from the vantage point of the person being evaluated.

Performance evaluations are literally produced by a group or committee (e.g., all the managers at a given level will collectively evaluate and rank the subordinates whom they manage), a practice that is quite common in both public and private sector organizations. Both from the perspective of evaluators and, in many cases, from the perspective of management in general, evaluations produced in this fashion can have significant advantages. This scheme enables other managers who have had contact with a given employee to provide input into the evaluation, providing a richer assessment than one based solely on one superior’s appraisal. It enhances knowledge about others in the workforce, so that placements, rotations, and transfers can be arranged more efficiently.

It can give a more uniform message as to what the organization desires; in contrast, when one group is evaluated by one manager’s set of criteria and a second group by a second manager’s, and when the two groups interact sufficiently to see that there are differences, the validity of the entire scheme is called into question. Evaluation by a group can give the individual supervisor of employee X some ability to layoff blame for a “poor” or mediocre evaluation of X, attributing the bad outcome to the group, and personal feedback (conducted by X’s supervisor, in most cases) from summary rankings (produced in committee) that are used for compensation administration. Finally, it can enhance the quality of the performance evaluations that are done, because it encourages evaluators to take the process seriously; if managers must justify their rankings in front of others (including, perhaps, their own superiors), then presumably they will take those rankings more seriously.

This kind of process has its potential pitfalls: It can encourage gaming (log-rolling, coalition formation) on the part of the evaluators; it can result in the systematic under-valuation of those who work for a less forceful, inarticulate, soft-spoken, or disrespected supervisor; it can help perpetuate patterns of discrimination that have a history of “social acceptability” within the organization. Furthermore, this process will work better in organizations with relatively low turnover among the managers participating in the collective evaluation process, so that they develop a shared vocabulary and body of experience with which to calibrate one another’s assessments. And (of course) producing evaluations through a committee process can be terribly costly in terms of the time needed to do it right.

If it is useful to broaden the evaluation inputs for a given employee to include the perspectives of other managers, it is not too big a leap to consider broadening things even further to include input from other constituencies with whom the employee interacts, including peers, subordinates, and clients (both inside and outside the organization). In addition to the potential increases in validity, reliability, and legitimacy that such “360 degrees feedback” systems can provide, they can be a useful symbol and tool of cultural change in organizations seeking to promote more internal cooperation and communication. But there are substantial problems to confront: If evaluation by a committee sounds time-consuming, 360 degrees feedback systems are in another league. And eventually all the disparate inputs received have to be aggregated or summarized into a form that can be communicated to the employee (and perhaps used as part of the formal evaluation process), which can be a very challenging task for the person to whom it is as-signed (usually, the employee’s immediate supervisor). What do you do, for instance, if you have solicited evaluations of one of your direct reports from two of your own superiors, say, or from two valued clients, and you receive back two diametrically opposite reports?

But our impression is that the trickiest issue raised by 360 degrees – type schemes has to do with the tension between performance feedback and performance evaluation. For obvious reasons, organizations implementing schemes that solicit performance information from peers, subordinates, or clients will generally want to be extremely cautious about using that information as the basis for high-stakes reward decisions (bonuses, promotions, etc.), The potential for abuse, dysfunctional competition, politicking, and all the other pathologies that can accompany performance evaluation is simply too huge. Hence, organizations generally adopt these types of systems with the intention of using them to provide performance feedback, not as the basis for formal performance reviews. For several reasons, however, things often don’t work out as the architects intended.

People tend to find it difficult and time-consuming to provide detailed performance feedback, and they often will be more in dined to do so to the extent that they believe their input will have consequences. Of course, the flip side of this coin is that we have also noted a tendency for people to be reluctant to be critical or harsh in their assessments when they know this may have severe consequences for the person being reviewed. Therefore, it is conceivable that reassuring people in their input will be used purely for developmental and feedback purposes can induce them to be more candid, especially peers and subordinates who may be fearful about bringing harm to a colleague or a superior. The difficulty, however, is that if the firm is operating a separate performance evaluation process that is used for purposes of compensation, promotion, and the like, there is the risk that the 3600 system comes to be perceived either as duplicative or, even worse, as a sham, thereby undercutting its symbolic and cultural benefits and possibly producing a variety of negative effects.

A second reason why inputs solicited for “feedback” purposes often end up becoming used for “evaluation” purposes is simply that once information has been collected, it is difficult for decision-makers not to attend to it. This is particularly true given the aversion that most decision-makers have to performance evaluation: If managers wish to economize on the time they devote to performance evaluation, and they already have a large stack of data gleaned through the 360 degrees process, we think it is fanciful to expect that they will disregard this information and carry out a thorough and independent evaluation for purposes of formal review.


Source by Artur Victoria

Autism in the Workplace: Things Changing for the Better

While it’s true that people with autism spectrum disorder often find it difficult to adjust themselves in a workplace, it’s heartening to note that some of the leading multinational companies across the world have changed their human resource (HR) policies. These companies are trying on their part to forge a conducive environment for autistic people in their corporate structure. While discrimination and prejudice still dominate the mindset of majority of the HR managers regarding the recruitment of people with autism, some of the recent developments are undeniably encouraging.

All over the world, business processes have largely become tech-oriented. For instance, the benefits of hiring people who may excel in data processing, has become apparent. Many autistic persons excel in such kind of jobs also known as “autism savants”. The Silicon Valley is already employing a more the average numbers of autistic persons, because such people are known to excel in their tech jobs.

Experts are of the opinion that the time has come for companies and organizations to recognize the skills of the neglected class of prospective employees. Some multinational companies have already recognized the untapped talent pool and have incorporated the changes in their manual. Experts say that if the changes bear fruit, they may further open up the job market for autistic people and also help the companies realize the technical ability of these people.

In most cases, it doesn’t take much to become a bit more inclusive. It’s often just as simple as empowering an individual so that he/she can feel more comfortable to share their feelings as well as listening to them patiently.

Studies into autism employment trends have revealed that a minimum of 50,000 individuals will become autism adults every year. This not only includes autism but other special needs condition like Asperger’s and Down syndrome. Autism spectrum disorder is taken as an umbrella condition. People with Asperger’s syndrome, the mildest form of autism spectrum disorder, usually show some perceptible symptoms beyond the social awkwardness. Those at the far end of the spectrum may lack verbal skills. They may also be hypersensitive to sensory activities. Worse still, many of them are prone to self-inflicted injuries. While the latter section of people with autism spectrum disorder may find it difficult to land gainful employment, the former section may find it relatively easy.

But the fact remains that more companies have to open up hiring for autistic people. Else, a large section of people will be kept out of the ambit of successful contribution to the society.


Source by Kevin Carter

Autism Employment: It’s Difficult for Such People

Let’s be honest. Job interviews, to most of us, are pretty stressful. You are bombarded with questions from an absolute stranger who supposedly hold the future of your career. Those who have been unemployed for some time in their lives, will understand how much the pressure to succeed actually is. Getting a job is often a make or break situation for most people.

But imagine what’s the situation is like for those having autism spectrum disorder. That is, those who have not been exposed to communicative apps like “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences”, and lack social interaction. Friends and family of an autistic person may understand the circumstances. On top of their condition, is the pressure to answer the questions honestly.

But autistic persons are not sure how much honesty during job interviews is enough. Can an autistic person say that he/she was relieved of the job because of social and communication difficulties, and that they were not considered as a team player? Besides, there’s likely to be big gaps in the CV regarding unhindered employment and the autistic person may have a tough time explaining why they are there.

Most autistic persons have to undergo several job interviews where they face ignorant managers who lack empathy and understanding about the challenges such people face in a typical work environment.

Researches on autism employment have thrown up some startling numbers. Only 16% of all autistic adults are engaged in full-time work. Only about 32% are employed in some sort of paid work.

But not everything looks bleak and negative. While people with autism spectrum disorder struggle with many workplace interactions and activities, an increasing number of companies have finally begun to incorporate “neuro-divergent” hiring in their human resource (HR) policy. They are now actively looking for people whose brains are tuned differently. They can bring with them a range of abilities and skills to the workforce.

Some companies have started to nurture special needs employees and have put in place programs that recognize people with autism spectrum disorder, dyspraxia, Asperger’s syndrome, and dyslexia. Companies have started to look at these conditions as qualities and not drawbacks. Strengths of autistic people may include anything from mathematics to logical skills and an almost photographic memory. Many autistic people take the “tunnel vision” approach to solve problems and other intermediary talents.

It’s the responsibility of companies to make the hiring process more conducive and induct more autistic people.


Source by Kevin Carter

Consistency With Human Resources

Consistent human resources practices are desirable for (at least) five sets of reasons. First, there are some obvious technical benefits of consistency. For example, a firm choosing to invest heavily in training its employees will see increased value in careful screening of applicants and in practices that are intended to decrease turnover. When on-the-job training accumulates over a period of years, practices that reward seniority (and thus reduce turnover among employees with longer tenure) make sense. When the firm employs informal training, provided by more senior workers to their more junior colleagues, seniority-based rewards also help by putting senior workers at no disadvantage when they share their knowledge. To cite another example, a firm that wishes to broaden its workforce (hiring, say, more women and minorities) may find it relatively advantageous to move to a cafeteria-style benefits plan. These reasons all pertain to single-employee consistency. At the same time, temporal consistency and among-employee consistency have different (and fairly obvious) technical benefits, having to do with economizing on costs of administration.

A second set of reasons why consistency is desirable concerns the psychology of perception and cognition. From basic psychology, we know that messages are more salient and recalled better when the multiple stimuli being transmitted are simple and support the same theme, as in an effective advertising campaign. Consistency, which also entails simplicity (i.e., everything follows the same basic principles), is thus desirable because it aids in the learning process that individuals must undertake, to understand what is expected of them and what they can expect in turn.

For example, owing to their technologies, some firms find that they must give their personnel wide discretion in some (but not all) matters. In these cases, the firms must choose whether to provide direct incentives for employees to perform as desired versus using indirect control based on the perception of mutual interests. When it comes to other activities that these individuals perform, the firm may be able to monitor its personnel quite closely and thus control them by rules. Should the firm use rules? The choice depends on how the firm aims to control its employees in the first set of activities. If the firm chooses close supervision of those activities that can be closely supervised, its employees may infer that they are not trusted and adjust their behavior accordingly by acting in ways that are consistent with not being trusted. Control of the first set of activities by trust will then be compromised: Employees will infer that they are not trusted (and thus not trustworthy), and react accordingly.

This category of reasons-largely about single-employee consistency as phrased above-can is extended to among-employee and temporal consistency. In most cases, an employee assumes that how she and others have been treated in the past, as well as how other similarly situated employees are being treated contemporaneously provides good data for how she can expect to be treated now and in the future. Consequently, if human resources practices changed frequently or varied considerably across similar employees, the process of learning what to expect and what is expected would be seriously impaired.

A third category of reasons for pursuing consistent human resources practices involves social forces. Consistency in the sense of congruence with external social norms and preconceptions – aids learning. It is easier to mold individuals’ tastes and expectations when the organization’s practices consistently (and symbolically) mimic previously internalized patterns of relationships in other contexts, whether these patterns are akin to an anonymous marketplace (dog-eat-dog) or a family relationship (mutual caring).

A fourth advantage of consistent human resources practices relates to recruitment and selection. Workers are not all alike, and they will do better or worse in a given organization according to how well they are matched to its attributes. Just to keep turnover costs in line, the firm should hope that prospective employees can understand the nature of employment on offer, so that mismatch and concomitant quits don’t result. Indeed, even if a somewhat mismatch worker doesn’t quit, he may be less happy and productive if the job doesn’t fit his tastes in employment.

Consistency in human resources practices allows for better initial matches in three ways. First, insofar as consistency promotes understanding, prospective employees are better able to comprehend at the outset what they are getting themselves into. Second, to the extent that there are correlations among the preferences of a given worker-for example, someone who feels comfortable with performance-based compensation also desires similar hard-edged practices when it comes to promotion criteria, benefits, decision-making authority, and the like-then clusters of human resources practices that are consistent in matching those correlations will achieve better matches. Third, individuals may have a taste for co-workers who have the same preferences they do-warm and fuzzy types may not interact well with very competitive types-and consistent human resources practices, insofar as they lead to a workforce that is homogeneous in terms of such preferences, may promote teamwork and worker cohesion.


Source by Artur Victoria

Thanksgiving and Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thanksgiving is just round the corner; which means that it’s now time for friends and relatives to visit your home. It’s the time of the year when families cook special foods like that on Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. It’s that time of the year when holiday foods like collard greens, tamales, empanadas, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and potato latkes are spread on the table.

But for children with autism spectrum disorder, the coming few weeks could be quite overwhelming. They’ll experience new tastes, new smells, and new sounds and sights almost everywhere. The routines are changed. Special religious symbols and trees suddenly appear in the house. The usual foods disappear from the dining table. And that often poses a challenge to the family of the autistic child.

Special needs teachers know that these are difficult times for autistic children. They experience so many new things. Setting up the classroom, so that it mirrors the holidays, can make the transition easier in both school and home. Autistic children can enjoy the fun seasonal activities of how to wrap Christmas goodies and gift them to other children. A talking raven and curved pumpkins would transform into colorful leaf arrangements and turkeys. A Christmas tree and some Christmas music, along with a Santa are put up in front of classrooms by early November. More holiday symbols and activities are gradually added to help the autistic children adjust to the season.

In many special needs schools, new foods are introduced. This helps them to prepare for the thanksgiving and Christmas parties. The thanksgiving platter may include traditional items like turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and pumpkin pies.

Elsewhere, winter holiday parties are a great time to introduce Santa to autistic children. Besides, it’s a great time to experience a large gathering of family, friends and strangers. The “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps, developed to impart communication skills to children with autism spectrum disorder, are of a great use in these times. These two apps help autistic kids to express themselves even to total strangers.

With all the decoration around, the look on the children’s faces is priceless when grandparents, parents, and siblings walk into the classroom. An annual event like this is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand how “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps have helped children with autism pick up key communication skills. And for the children, waiting for Santa to speak to them, is the most eagerly-awaited moment.


Source by Kevin Carter

Autism Apps: Enabling Tech in Their Lives

Sophia Nelson, a 37-year old special educator, is often considered as an evangelist by her students and their parents. She has been a staunch advocate of reaching technology to the hands of children with autism spectrum disorder and other cognitive disabilities. She has changed the lives of these children with the “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps. Unfortunately most schools often don’t see the value in providing technology to help autistic kids and special needs children. As a result, people like Sophia have to spend a hard time convincing schools about the benefits of using the “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps.

Learning the use of these basic apps can have a big impact on autistic children and special needs kids. Digital media allows students to showcase their skills in a way which is usually not apparent in traditional assessments.

Sophia says that she just wanted to teach children with autism all that she herself learnt as a kid in junior school, with the help of the “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps. We live in a world where almost everything has gone digital in the last few years. Special needs kids and autistic children, Sophia says, should be able to participate in that.

The “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps are designed for junior and middle school students. They include a large number of separate lessons. These lessons use research-based techniques to break down the concepts and the teaching skills in several explicit steps. They offer short animated videos for introducing important educational concepts in stages. The special needs children are then asked to demonstrate what they have learnt. They are rewarded with virtual badges if they can successfully demonstrate their knowledge.

The curriculum of “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps helps autistic kids to imbibe skills that they can later use in their workplace. The curriculum is divided into multiple modules that impart key communicative and sorting skills.

Sophia says that she has received favorable response from children, educators, experts, and counselors regarding the introduction of technology-based teaching methods. She wants to work with companies and other organizations in the future and develop certification programs. This, she claims, can be modified to suit specific workplace skills. She is aware that not many companies have opened up to hiring people with autism spectrum disorder, because these people lack technical skills. But a determined Sophia wants to change all that.


Source by Kevin Carter