Types of Assessment in Performance Management

What is Performance Assessment?

Any performance management process involves an assessment or an analysis of achievements and planning which form the basis for an employee’s career plan, potential development, and performance agreements.

Flawless assessments can never completely be a reality as it is subject to various errors or glitches like Halo Effect which means that the manager acquires a tendency of generalizing a few professional experiences with the other aspects of performance and easily relate to the problems of poor perception, selectivity and poor interpretation.

Assessments require the capacity to appraise performance, and sound judgment requires applying defined criteria, considering only relevant facts, the proper weighting of probability, and the avoidance of projection.

The two main techniques which may be adopted for assessing the performance of employees in an organization are as follows −

Narrative Assessment

A narrative evaluation is simply a written summary of perspectives on the degree of performance attained. It is normally prepared by the managers. This assessment requires managers to gather their ideas and document them down. However, various individuals will evaluate performance differently, and there will be no uniformity in the evaluation standards utilized.

Narrative assessment could generally be composed of one written narrative or it can be structured using pre-designated categories. For example, a manger could include categories such as employee’s ‘Punctuality’, ‘Attendance’, ‘Project Handling Skills’, ‘Productivity’, etc., or use any other categories relevant to the particular employee’s work performance.

This technique lacks consistency in the criterion used for assessments as different managers will consider different aspects of performance.

Advantages of Narrative Assessment as follows −

Extreme Flexibility

The most useful advantage of the narrative technique is its extreme flexibility. This technique allows managers to customize the contents of the employee review according to project, skill, type of job profile, length of employment, or any other factors that seem applicable.

Same Evaluation Method

The same method of evaluation can be used both for different candidates from different department. This means that the same method can be used both for the Accountant and for the maintenance staff. The difference involved would be the categories and content, which would be derived from the main job responsibilities of each. For example, one of the categories on a maintenance staff review might be “Knowledge of Cleaning Methods.” Obviously this category wouldn’t be fit to use for the accountant; however, categories like “Time Management” might fit.

Though narrative assessment has advantages of flexibility and freedom to document points in details; however, there a few disadvantages as well.

Disadvantage of Narrative Assessment as follows −

Lengthy Document Writing

Every manager or reviewer doesn’t prefer writing long document descriptions, rather most managers prefer to use number ratings. This is because it saves a lot of time and energy.

Possibility of Friction

Furthermore, many feel that those kinds of summaries often can be inaccurate, subjective, and likely to create friction between employee and manager when pinpointing every detail of the employee.

Possibility of Missing Out Details

If the review is to be submitted at the yearend, then there are chances of missing out minute details from the employee’s performance. Thereby missing out on writing in the review. The yearly review is based on both parties’ abilities to remember what had happened over an entire year and to summarize a year’s events sometime after the facts.

The only purpose of incorporating a narrative evaluation is to highlight the path forward for future action, which cannot be accomplished by jotting down a few notes. It is preferable to allow for the development of action plans due to the systematic examination of performance in terms of outcomes and behavior that should occur during a review meeting.

Visual Methods of Assessment

Visual assessment method is accomplished by an agreement between the management and the person about the individual's placement on a matrix or grid. A different strategy for rating is to use a visual evaluation method.

Visual assessment is graphically represented, offering a more robust foundation for analysis and debate than a mechanical grade. Contribution is evaluated in terms of outcomes and behaviors, attitudes, and overall approach.

Some of the features of this type of assessment are as follows −

Comprehensive Evaluation

An employee and the management must agree on a comprehensive evaluation. It will be noted on the summary page, which will appear at the start of the review document. The objective is to get a fair appraisal of the employee’s contribution throughout the year. The evaluation will include the performance against the obligations of the job as outlined in the Role Profile, and the achievement of goals and competence growth over the year. The appraisal will become essential for future wage hikes.

Grid Summary

The grid on the summary of employee’s yearly performance assessment is intended to represent the total contribution visually. This technique supersedes the more traditional rating scale approach. It highlights the notion that employee’s contribution is not just decided by the outcomes but also the entire attitude toward the job and the interactions with colleagues and customers.

The performance evaluation material will be used to justify where the boss puts a mark on the grid. Their evaluation against the vertical axis will be based on the employee’s performance about their goals, the performance criteria established in the position profile, and any other work accomplishments documented in the review.

Complete Transparency

Visual assessment method demonstrates complete transparency and eliminates the distance between management and other levels of employees. Information is not hidden, and the entire company is united on the same goals, aligned around shared visual management.


Every organization applies the most appropriate system of performance management best suited for them and their goals, a process that helps in the commitment of all employees towards achieving the objectives of the organization. However, an organization would always look for a system that saves time, energy, and money with zero error.

Updated on: 29-Apr-2022


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