Supervisors Need to Internalize HRM Practices

What is the most striking difference?

Mari Rauhala, 12.02.2018

What is the most striking difference between the most positive and the most negative units when comparing the employee perceptions on performance appraisal?

In their article “What determines employee perceptions on HRM process features?” Jennie Sumelius, Ingmar Björkman, Mats Ehrnrooth, Kristiina Mäkelä and Adam Smale study employee perceptions on the visibility, validity, and procedural and distributive justice of performance appraisal in global companies.

One of the findings that comes out from the cross-unit comparison is what makes the difference between the more “positive” and the more “negative” units. In the more “positive” units the employees saw their supervisors’ commitment to and capability in conducting performance appraisal much more favorably.

In the “negative” units, there was a more prevalent perceived lack of connection between performance appraisal and outcomes. “This suggests units may need to pay more careful attention to setting relevant and clear goals in order to make use of one of the strongest motivational forces on employee behavior in organizations.”

The study also concludes that even though the employees mostly considered the performance appraisal practice to be visible, it was felt like something that just had to be done, an effort that was emphasized during certain time of the year. Thus, even though the companies that were researched paid much attention to implementation of the performance appraisal, it seemed that more attention should be put at getting the management and supervisors to internalize the practice. This would improve the employees’ perceptions of the quality of performance appraisal and the level of internalization.

In the multi-national companies, balancing standardization and localization is a well-acknowledged dilemma among both the practitioners and researchers in the field. An interesting finding related to this, is that the lack of adaptation of the performance appraisal system caused negative views towards the whole system. Meaning, that too much standardization result in employees paying less attention to and attaching less value to a system that they perceive not to be relevant in their context. 

One of the writers of the article, Dean, Professor Ingmar Björkman, teaches in the Executive HR Program at Aalto EE Helsinki (in Finnish). The program concentrates on strategic human resource and performance management, and creating efficient HR practices. Read more about the program.

Sumelius J., Björkman I., Ehrnrooth M., Mäkelä K. and Smale A. What determines employee perceptions of HRM process features? The case of performance appraisal in MNC subsidiaries. Human Resource Management 53, 569-592.

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