Critical Incident Method

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Definition: Critical Incident Method

Critical incident method or critical incident technique is a performance appraisal tool in which analyses the behavior of employee in certain events in which either he performed very well and the ones in which he could have done better. Critical incident technique is used to collect data using a set of procedures. In critical incident method the observer observes critical human behaviors, skills used, incidents that occur on the job.


In Critical incident method, the manager of the employee gives all the details of the incident. This method is quite subjective in nature as compared to other methods which may be very objective and would require just ratings out of 5/10 etc. It helps to define the competencies and Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and other attributes (KSAO) required for a task or set of tasks that entails a job. The observer not only looks at the hard skills used but also the mental abilities that are required by the job incumbent.


Importance of Critical Incident Technique

Critical Incident Technique is very helpful while making a Job Specification and Job Description. The respondents, usually the job incumbents are asked to tell a story about the experiences they had while performing the job, the interviewer notes down the necessary incidents, skills, mental abilities, knowledge and other attributes that were used during the job by the job incumbent. Critical incident technique is very important and helpful technique to create a Job description and a job specification for a job. Providing a job description and job specification is essential to attract the right candidates for the job and can help to cut down the turnaround time for filling up a vacancy in the organization. Critical Incident technique notes down the important skills, knowledge, mental abilities and other attributes that are required in the job. Critical Incident Appraisal is used as a performance appraisal process method for employees.


Critical Incident Method Steps

Critical Incident Technique

Critical incident technique has the following steps.

1. We start with determining and reviewing the incidents that have taken place during the course of the job

2. Fact finding which involves gathering information of the incident from the members.

3. The third step is to analyze the facts and the data collected by the interviewer from the participants and determine the issues

4. The fourth step is to determine possible solutions for the issues that have been identified

5. Finally the last step is to evaluate whether the solution will be able to remove the cause of the problem that was identified.


Advantages of Critical Incident Technique

A few advantages of critical incident method are:

1. Helps to identify rare events which might be missed by other methods as they focus only on common events.

2. The technique is cost effective and provides rich information

3. The respondent’s perspective is taken into account

4. The respondents are not forced into any framework

5. Many ways to implement the technique like observation, questionnaires and interviews


Disadvantages of Critical Incident Technique

1. Many incidents may go unreported or might not be precise as the reporting of incidents relies on memory of the respondent.

2. Biasness might creep in towards the incidents that happened recently.

3. The incidents narrated may not be representative of everyday situation that takes place during the job.


Example of Critical Incident Method

A few examples are:

1. Critical Incident Technique is a technique to help find facts about a job. Example of critical incidents technique is an interview being taken of the incumbent of the job to know the facts of the job. These facts are collected by various techniques like questionnaires and survey as well and can be used for organizational development and market research. The interviewer should try to extract data related to description and outcome of the critical incident, the feelings, perceptions and thoughts that the person had at the time of the incident. The actions that were taken during the incident and what changes should be undertaken next time this incident takes place.

2. On a particular day one Salesperson stayed 60 minutes beyond his break during the busiest part of the day. Whereas another salesperson fails to answer store manager’s call thrice.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Critical Incident Method along with its overview.

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