Absolute standards is a method of performance appraisal used to evaluate the performance of an employee in comparison to standards established by the firm. Evaluation is done on an individual basis rather than comparing co-workers. These standards can be set using research on work sampling, production data or expert opinions. Methods can be of qualitative nature, quantitative or a mixture of both.
The following performance appraisal techniques can be categorized under absolute standards:
1) Essay Appraisal: - A qualitative form of absolute standards wherein the appraiser writes a narrative with the aim to describe the employee’s performance, including strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, potential etc. The statement is written for individual employees based on the organization’s expectations. Although the appraisers can freely express their thoughts, it is too time consuming.
2) Critical Incident: - A qualitative method whereby behavioral traits exhibited by each employee are documented with the aim to evaluate performance as opposed to personality. Since actual behaviors are observed the appraisal is more objective, however negative incidents are more likely to be noticed and remembered compared to positive incidents.
3) Checklist Appraisal: - A simple questionnaire with Yes/No responses in which the appraiser checks off all the tasks that have been successfully completed by the employee.
4) Forced Choice Appraisal: - A type of checklist where the rater is given a choice of two-three statements and is asked to pick the most descriptive of the employee. Although this method mitigates personal bias, the statements may not be framed in the best way to properly evaluate the employee.
5) Graphic Rating Scale: - A scale with a list of traits (for example reliability, teamwork) and a corresponding continuum of performance measures that range from “below expectations to role model”. The appraiser is expected to rate the level of performance for each given trait for individual employees.
6) Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS): - A list of descriptive statements of behaviour that are rated against a scale from least to most effective. The appraiser must identify the level of effectives for each given statement in order to determine the employee’s overall performance.