Performance evaluation methods generally vary according to occupation, field or industry. For accountants, a 360-degree feedback evaluation may not be the most effective appraisal method. Performance evaluations for accountants focus more on competencies and proficiency instead of leadership style and management skills, which are traditionally evaluated using 360-degree feedback. However, other appraisal methods are suitable to successfully evaluate the performance of an accountant.
In a narrative performance appraisal format an accountant receives constructive and meaningful feedback that isn’t simply a form with a box checked for fair, satisfactory or excellent performance. Narrative evaluations encourage two-way conversation about competencies, goals and professional growth. A comprehensive evaluation for a professional accountant includes performance standards concerning adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, relationships between accounting functions and corporate governance, and current knowledge of laws that apply to the industry, commerce or economic and finance issues. An accountant’s evaluation also must assess performance in the areas of ethical responsibilities, completion of continuing education, training and professional development and use of technology to improve efficiency.
Accountants and other professionals whose performance have an impact on overall organizational success benefit from management by objectives (MBO) evaluations. In an MBO evaluation, the accountant and manager work together to establish goals and set out guidelines and resources for achieving these goals. Using MBOs enables accountants to demonstrate their proficiencies which help move forward organizational goals. An example of an MBO for an accountant is “audit fiscal operations to create a budget that reduces organizational expenses for accounting functions by 15 percent.” For MBOs to be effectively measured, goals can be revisited quarterly to monitor progress. In addition, MBOs also require the accountant to identify the resources and time necessary to achieve the goals. Performance is measured by the percentage of goal attainment, achieving results far above the original threshold and successful completion of all goals.
Graphic rating scales focus almost entirely on quantitative measurements for productivity and efficiency. A graphic rating scale may not be the ideal performance evaluation for professions such as accounting. However, if you have a large workforce of accountants who are project-specific workers, it's possible to implement a graphic rating scale for evaluating proficiencies and competencies. When staff accountants are promoted into positions with greater responsibility, it's advisable to modify their performance standards and, thus, the type of appraisal method.