Employers contemplating individual appraisal systems vs. team appraisal systems weigh the pros and cons of developing and implementing a performance management system that works in the best interest of the company and its employees. Team appraisal systems have their benefits as they attempt to evaluate every team member on an equal basis, while individual appraisal systems are subject to bias based on a supervisor's subjective assessment of one employee that cannot be justified for an entire team of employees being evaluated.
It may be easier to determine employees' abilities related to collaboration in team-based appraisals because team success depends on collaborative working relationships. However, as supervisors assign individual employees to teams, collaboration is an obvious expectation and may, therefore, appear to be forced upon employees. Individual appraisals that evaluate an employee's ability to collaborate with coworkers measures collaboration on an organic level, instead of the expectations associated with teamwork. When supervisors appraise individual employees' abilities to work collaboratively with others, the appraisal also includes an employee's ability to determine when or if collaboration is necessary.
Team members with greater job knowledge or higher levels of functional expertise often pick up the slack for team members who lack their cohorts' experience in the field. Using team appraisals, evaluating job knowledge is difficult at best. Individual appraisals often focus specifically on an employee's ability to demonstrate proficiency in certain job-specific duties, and therefore, provide more accurate assessments of employee strengths and weaknesses.
The difference between measuring outcomes for teams vs. individuals is minimal where appraisals are concerned. The same time management skills necessary to complete assigned projects in a team-based situation are virtually the same requirements for individual accomplishments. On the other hand, when the team misses deadlines and is unable to fulfill a supervisor's expectations, team members' working relationships tend to suffer. Evaluating the ability to develop productive working relationships then becomes an additional factor upon which a supervisor has to assess team performance. Resolving time management issues in a team-oriented situation is much more challenging than addressing time management problems an individual employee may have.
Compensation and Rewards
Many employers' compensation structures are tied to employee performance, meaning salary increases, bonuses and incentives reflect how well employees perform their job duties. Compensation rewards for team-based appraisals aren't impossible, but some team members might consider them unfair because there are likely to be inequities in the distribution of rewards for team achievements. The disadvantage of team rewards is that they cannot reasonably acknowledge individual employee contributions. Using individual appraisals in performance management to justify compensation and employee rewards is easily accomplished.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.