In the essay method approach, the appraiser prepares a written statement
about the employee being appraised.
The statement usually concentrates on describing specific strengths and
weaknesses in job performance. It also suggests courses of action to remedy the
identified problem areas.
The statement may be written and edited by the appraiser alone, or it be
composed in collaboration with the appraisee.
The essay method is far less structured and
confining than the rating scale method. It permits the appraiser to examine
almost any relevant issue or attribute of performance. This contrasts sharply
with methods where the appraisal criteria are rigidly defined.
Appraisers may place whatever degree of emphasis on issues or attributes that
they feel appropriate. Thus the process is open-ended and very flexible. The
appraiser is not locked into an appraisal system the limits expression or
assumes that employee traits can be neatly dissected and scaled.
Essay methods are time-consuming and difficult to
administer. Appraisers often find the essay technique more demanding than
methods such as rating scales.
The techniques greatest advantage - freedom of expression - is also its greatest
handicap. The varying writing skills of appraisers can upset and distort the
whole process. The process is subjective and, in consequence, it is difficult to
compare and contrast the results of individuals or to draw any broad conclusions
about organizational needs.
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