Performance reviews not always accurate, professor says

February 18, 2002

Performance reviews - those often-dreaded work evaluations - are not very accurate, says a University of Toronto human resource management expert.

"Two employees may engage in the same behaviours on the job yet receive completely different performance ratings by their managers," says Maria Rotundo, a management professor at U of T's Rotman School of Management and co-author of The Relative Importance of Task, Citizenship, and Counterproductive Performance to Global Ratings of Job Performance: A Policy-Capturing Approach.

Rotundo and co-author Paul Sackett from the University of Minnesota asked 504 North American managers to rate the job performances of 34 hypothetical employees. These "employees" were engaged in various levels of task, citizenship (for example, helping co-workers) and counterproductive performance. The study found that the managers - from fields such as nursing, retail and accounting - were not always in agreement in selecting the most important criteria on which to rate employees. Some chose task performance while others picked citizenship. This can lead to inconsistent reviews for employees, Rotundo says. "This finding tells me that supervisory ratings of job performances are not always reliable.

"Organizations must clearly communicate to managers and employees what aspects of an employee's job performance are valued to ensure more accurate performance reviews," says Rotundo. "Managers will be able to rate employees using the same policy and employees will know what areas of their job they should focus on."
This study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

CONTACT: Professor Maria Rotundo, Rotman School of Management, 416-946-5060,

University of Toronto

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