The author of "Performance Appraisal Reappraised" participated in designing a study on best practices in performance appraisal for the American Productivity and Quality Center. During this work, the author learned that contrary to expectations, the public sector offered creative approaches to performance appraisals from which private sector enterprises could learn.
Specifically, the Air Force research lab on Dayton put together a performance appraisal system based on how each job contributes to the overall mission of the lab. Individuals are drawn toward those tasks which are difficult, but which offer a significant potential for personal and professional reward (the lab has also structured its pay system around its performance assessment and the value of each job to the lab's operation). This assessment program was developed by the scientists who work at the lab (in other words, by the individuals who are subjected to the assessments) (Grote, 2000).
In Minnesota, the state department of transportation also reworked its performance assessment program to bring it in line with department's mission and strategic plan. A team composed of workers, supervisors and support staff reviewed the goals and objectives of the department, and identified the job skills necessary to meet those objectives. The skills were initially given vague titles, such as "leadership," but the team then spent a considerable amount of time detailing the specific characteristics of each skill. In this way, those individuals responsible for conducting assessments now have "concrete descriptions" of what an employee must accomplish in order to meet each skill level (Grote, 2000, p. 21).
The city of Irving, Texas adopted a similar approach to its performance assessment system in 1999. Here, the individuals designing the new system identified 23 areas of competency considered necessary for success. Within these competencies, specific examples of varying d...