Performance Appraisals

Every year, everyone who works for the government is to be formally and individually judged by his or her boss. The process can cause tension and is widely viewed as ineffective. Most government work depends on team, not individual, effort. And often, a worker's teammates and customers are better able than the boss to judge that employee's effectiveness. Several agencies are experimenting with different evaluation methods that enhance teamwork and give more influence to the customers. The Department of Education is using a 360-degree appraisal, an evaluation from all directions -- the boss, subordinates, colleagues, customers, and suppliers. The other new kind of evaluation is not of the individual, but of the team. It is based on measurable results, and everybody who contributes to the results gets the same grade. Workers are being judged and rewarded in terms of how well their teams achieve measurable results. Several variations of the new systems are being tried, and all have pluses and minuses; the hope is to find better, more productive means of gauging worker performance.

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