Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Robert L. Cardy, M.E. Sharpe, ISBN 0-7656-0966-5, 2003, paperback, 208 pages, $39.95
One of the key ingredients of achieving performance excellence is the management of performance of individuals and teams. Performance assessment and constructive feedback are essential components to channel efforts for continuous improvement. Robert Cardy explains succinctly the six-step performance-management process in seven chapters, supported by 41 skill builder exercises.
Chapter 1 is very short and just gives an overview of the performance management process; and the structure of the remaining chapters of the book. In chapter 2, the basics of job descriptions and analysis are first dealt with and then the three basic levels of performance criteria (goals, characteristics of performance, and operational criteria) are briefly defined. The advantages and disadvantages of defining performance in terms of means (behaviors) and end (outcomes) are explained.
Determining the cause of performance in a systematic manner is explained in chapter 3, with the help of the ''observation cube''. Matrices for recording performance observation based on person or team, tasks/roles/projects/ and observation period are used to explain the process. The application of attribution theory to understand how people make judgments is briefly covered in one of the six skill builder exercises.
In chapter 4, what, why, and how of evaluating both behavioral and outcome performance are considered. The development of suitable rating scales using frame-of-reference training to maximize the accuracy and comparability of performance evaluation is briefly explained. Suitable exercises to develop this capability are also included.
The next two chapters address respectively with issues surrounding providing feedback and dealing with the feedback received, which are critical factors in effecting self and organizational improvement. A seven-dimension tool for evaluating the effectiveness of a performance-feedback session is included in the skill builder exercise in chapter 5. The seven dimensions used for the assessment are structure and control of the session, establishing and maintaining rapport, reacting to stress, obtaining information, resolving conflict, developing the worker, and motivating. The exercises included in chapter 6 can be used to improve dealing with emotional issues involved in receiving and interpreting feedback received.
The topic of improving performance by realistic goal setting, identifying and removing system barriers, and increasing motivation (using the expectancy model) is dealt with in some depth in the final chapter.
The book also contains two appendices. Appendix I, the skill builder summary, is to aid the instructor or workshop leader. Appendix II contains overhead slides that could be used to structure discussions in a class or workshop.
K. NarasimhanLearning and Teaching Fellow, Bolton Institute, UK