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The Motivation of Performance Appraisals

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The Motivation of Performance Appraisals

To what extent do performance appraisals motivate individuals in the


A performance appraisal is the process of assessing workers
performance in comparison to certain predetermined organizational
standards. Appraisals not only help employees understand how they are
doing but they also help the worker's supervisor along with the
organization as a whole.

Performance appraisal is one way of giving employees feedback about
their performance at work. According to ACAS (1997) appraisals
regularly record an assessment of an employee’s performance, potential
and development needs.

Performance appraisal is a formal system of measuring, evaluating, and
influencing an employee’s job-related attributes, behaviours and

In some organisation’s appraisal results may be used to determine
relative rewards in the firm -- who should get merit pay increases,
bonuses, or promotions. Similarly, appraisal results can be used to
identify the poorer performers who may require some form of
counselling, demotion, dismissal or decreases in pay.

Interestingly, performance appraisal is a very controversial
managerial issue. Some researchers have expressed doubts about the
validity and reliability of the process. On the other hand, there are
advocates of performance appraisal who claim that it may well be the
most critical of all Performance Appraisal and Motivation.

Motivational research conducted by many theorists including Elton Mayo
Frederick Taylor, who have recognized the power of recognition as an
incentive (Maslow and the Expectancy Theory of Motivation).

Performance appraisals provide employees with recognition for their
work efforts. The appraisal system provides the supervisor with an
opportunity to indicate to employees that the organization is
interested in their performance and development. This recognition can
have a positive motivational influence on the individual's sense of
worth, commitment and belonging.

There have been many theories on the aspect of motivation. Many
contemporary authors have defined the concept of motivation. Krietner
(1995) defined motivation as a psychological process that gives
behaviour purpose and direction.[1]

Motivation is seen as a very important aspect of an organisation as it
contributes to how well it performs. This ultimately has an effect on
the organisations corporate objectives. This includes attainment of
higher market share and profit maximisation as a result of an
individual’s performance. Processes that are used to motivate
employees have an effect on their willingness to stay with the
organisation. Appraisals are prevalent in many companies and are seen
as a crucial ingredient in motivating employees; therefore it
increases the importance of carrying out this study.

The purpose of this study is to examine the statement “To what extent
do performance appraisals motivate individuals in the workplace”. The
findings will be attained from the prominent theories in motivation.
The study will try to find which of the theories from Mayo, Hertzberg
and Taylor are evident from the findings.

The reason that research is being conducted is because motivation and
the fact that it is a broad subject and can be interpreted into many
different functions. Also it plays a pivotal role within different
departments of organisations and it is attributed to the success of an

Literature review

Theories of motivation

In general, motivation theorists focus their work on the "whys" of
human behaviour (Weiner, 1992). Cognitive theorists of motivation
propose a clear relation between beliefs, attitudes, and values as
mediators of task engagement (Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, in
press). That is, the extent to which one engages in a task depends
upon beliefs about one's own competence or self-efficacy, the extent
to which one values a given task, and whether that value is intrinsic
or extrinsic in origin (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Motivation researchers see
these individual beliefs, values, and goals for achievement as
critical determinants of achievement-related behavior (Weiner, 1992;
Wigfield & Eccles, 1992). These constructs can be conceptualised as a
series of questions an individual asks themselves with respect to a
given activity or task (Wigfield, 1997), including

q Can I succeed?

q Do I want to succeed and why? and

q What do I need to do to succeed?

Researchers in this area have developed a number of motivational
constructs to describe how they relate to various achievement
behaviors. These include perceptions of ability and self-efficacy,
task values, achievement goals, control beliefs, intrinsic and
extrinsic motivation, and achievement attributions (Rigby, Deci,
Patrick, & Ryan, 1992; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992).

Many theorists on practical aspects of motivation in the workplace
have conducted motivational research. Research that has been
undertaken in this field notably by Douglas McGregor [theory y],
Frederick Herzberg [two factor motivation hygiene theory,] Abraham
Maslow [theory z, hierarchy of needs] Elton Mayo [Hawthorne
Experiments] Chris Argyris Rensis Likert and David McCelland
[achievement motivation] But within this Literature review the
prominence and analysis will be concentrated solely on the three

- Elton Mayo (Hawthorne Experiments)

- Douglas McGregor (theory Y)

- Abraham Maslow ( hierarchy of needs)

- Frederick Herzberg (two factor motivation hygiene theory)

The most important issue that will be evaluated while analysing the
affects of the above theorist and their views will be their
significance to the overall selected research topic in addition to
their individual failings in their theory’s and research.

Introduction to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Maslow’s Hierarchy Needs

Maslow's theory consisted of two parts:

q The classification of human needs, and

q Consideration of how the classes are related to each other

Maslow summarized the hierarchies of needs relevant to the chosen
research topic as follows:

- A person starts at the bottom of the hierarchy (pyramid) and will
initially seek to satisfy basic needs (e.g. food, shelter)

- Once these physiological needs have been satisfied, they are no
longer a motivator. The individual moves up to the next level

- Esteem needs are about being given recognition for a job well done.
They reflect the fact that many people seek the esteem and respect of
others. A promotion at work might achieve this.

Problems with the Maslow’s Model

The problem with the above study is although Maslow's model has great
potential appeal in the business world. The message is barely clear if
management can find out which level each employee has reached, then
they can decide on suitable rewards so therefore only then can they
increase motivation..

There are several problems with the Maslow model when a real-life
working practice is considered:

- Individual behaviour seems to respond to several needs - not just

- The same need (e.g. the need to interact socially at work) may cause
quite different behaviour in different individuals

- There is a problem in deciding when a level has actually been

- The model ignores the often-observed behaviour of individuals who
tolerate low-pay for the promise of future benefits

- There is little empirical evidence to support the model.

Therefore linking this to the research proposal question in Maslow’s
analysis appraisal will come below the fourth level of the hierarchy
this can be criticized, as a number of people may believe without
appraisal in a workplace they may not be with the organization for a
long period of time.

Motivator Factors

Motivator factors are based on an individual's need for personal
growth. When they exist, motivator factors actively create job
satisfaction. If they are effective, then they can motivate an
individual to achieve above-average performance and effort. Motivator
factors include status, opportunity for advancement, gaining
recognition, responsibility, challenging/stimulating work, sense of
personal achievement & personal growth in a job.

There are several similarities between Herzberg's and Maslow's models.
They both suggest that needs have to be satisfied for the employee to
be motivated. However, Herzberg argues that only the higher levels of
the Maslow Hierarchy (e.g. self-actualization, esteem needs) act as a
motivator. The remaining needs can only cause dissatisfaction if not

Applying Hertzberg's (model to de-motivated workers. What might the
evidence of de-motivated employees be in a business?

Low productivity, poor production or service quality, strikes /
industrial disputes / breakdowns in employee communication and
relationships, complaints about pay and working conditions and
according to Herzberg, management should focus on rearranging work so
that motivator factors can take effect. He suggested three ways in
which this could be done job enlargement, job rotation job enrichment
good quality training, Focus on quality of communications

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

McGregor developed two theories of human behaviour at work: Theory
and X and Theory Y. He did not imply that workers would be one type or
the other. Rather, he saw the two theories as two extremes - with a
whole spectrum of possible behaviors in between.

Theory X workers could be described as follows:

- Individuals who dislike work and avoid it where possible

- Individuals who lack ambition, dislike responsibility and prefer to
be led

- Individuals who desire security

The management implications for Theory X workers were that, to achieve
organisational objectives, a business would need to impose a
management system of coercion, control and punishment.

Theory Y workers were characterised by McGregor as:

The management implications for Theory X workers are that, to achieve
organisational objectives, rewards of varying kinds are likely to be
the most popular motivator. The challenge for management with Theory Y
workers is to create a working environment (or culture) where workers
can show and develop their creativity.

Literature review for Performance Appraisals

Armstrong (1994) defines performance Appraisals as "a process designed
to improve organisational, team and individual performance". Quoting
from Rogers (1995), “Performance management is a joint process that
involves both the supervisor and the employee, who identify common
goals, which correlate to the higher goals of the institution. This
process results in the establishment of written performance
expectations later used as measures for feedback and performance

Performance management is about harnessing the abilities and
creativity of each employee. In order to get the most out of
performance management, organizations need to put in place systems and
methods which translate the goals of strategic management into
individual performance terms. (Storey and Sisson, 1993).

Armstrong (1994) describes performance management as a continuous
self-renewing cycle whose main activities are:

q Role definition

q Performance agreement or contract

q Personal development plan

q Managing performance throughout the year

q Performance review

Mabey, Salaman and Storey (1998) argue that performance agreement
should cover the following points:

• Objectives and standards of performance

• Performance measures and indicators

• Competency assessment

• Core values or operational requirements

Kitay and Lasbury (1997) suggest that there has been a growth in pay
for performance schemes, flexible employment practices, training,
performance appraisals and broader job structures. These developments
imply an emphasis on improving employee performance while at the same
time increasing the flexibility of labour

Capelli and Crocker-Hefter (1996) argue that there is no single best
practice in performance management to which all organizations should
aspire. Moreover, the literature shows that each firm has a
distinctive performance management system that represents a core
competencies required for the survival and sustainability for that
particular organization and does not put emphasis on one single

In short, there is no best performance management theories or
practices. What was best for one company may not be best for another.
What was best last month may not be best today. The concept of “best”
is highly subjective and non-specific.

Aims and objectives

The following are the aims and objectives that will be examined during
the research:

- Do performance appraisals motivate in the workplace?

- To what extent do performance appraisals motivate the workforce?

- Which other factors other than performance appraisals affect
motivation of the workforce?

The answers to the above questions will determine whether or not the
statement “performance appraisals motivates in the workplace” is true
and if it is, to what extent and conditions does it apply. The main
aim is to carry out research to conclude if performance appraisals are
the only factor driving towards motivation. Therefore it has been
emphasised that obtaining the highest possible wages through working
in the efficient and productive way would motivate workers[2]. This
will also lead to establish the relationship between performance
appraisals and motivation looking at the sheer scale of the strength
of this relationship.

The second aim will then move on to find out to what extent
performance appraisals motivates at the different hierarchical levels
of the organisation. It will then illustrate whether there are
alternative factors that drive motivation or if it is a combination of
the two.

The final aim set out for this proposal is to investigate the
alternative factors that motivate. This is because even the most
performance appraisals-orientated theorists such as Fredwick Taylor
have addressed that there are other factors that motivate, even though
they may disagree with the extent to which each affects motivation.
Therefore, by addressing these other factors, critical understanding
can be attained through justifying the alterative factors by
investigating why and how they motivate.

Research Question

To what extent do performance appraisals motivate individuals in the

The variables below will be measured throughout the research

Independent variable Intervening
variable Dependent variable



Octagon: Performance

Moderating variable


Population and sample

The proposed research will be conducted on a market research company
called National Opinion Poll (N.O.P), which is based in Luton. This
company was chosen as performance appraisals are very prevailing in
this business and are undertaken a number of times each year.

In this study the effects of appraisals within the organisation N.O.P
will be investigated. The most important factor that will be looked
into while analysing the affects of appraisals will be if they have a
considerable impact on motivation with regards to the employees within
N.O.P. Furthermore, the views of employees of N.O.P will be given as
to what their views and feelings are on performance appraisals.

Population and sample

I have chosen the complete workforce of my organisation as the
population, which consists of 750 employees together with, management,
supervisors, and team leaders across three different shift-patterns
(9am-1pm, 1pm-5pm, 5pm-9pm). A record of all employees on different
shift patterns will be attained from the human resource branch by

The recommended sample size is 254 with a 95 percent level of
certainty. This leaves a margin of error of 5 percent. A reasonable
response rate for interviews (kervin, 1992) theses responses rates
will be taken into consideration when carrying out the research.

The sampling techniques that will be as a rule suitable in this
organisation are systematic and stratified random sampling. The
workforce will be divided into two separate strata. One stratum being
management consisting of managers, supervisors and team leaders, the
other stratum consisting of the telesales staff.

After carrying out the calculation it was found that 1 in every 3
cases needs to be selected from the sampling frame to represent the
telesales staff.

The sampling fraction formula that was used to attain the fraction for
telesales staff sample selection is 322/750=1/3

Research question

To answer the research question and meet the objectives a multi-method
approach will be taken.

The first method that will be used to collect data is through the use
of semi-structured interviews. The interviews will be conducted on a
one-to-one basis and voice recorded. Consequently the data will be
used to understand the relationships between the variables. Interviews
will be conducted with the staff in various departments to fully
understand their experiences and views on performance appraisals as a
motivator; however, interview method will take more time in gathering
information. Furthermore, some information gathered from interviews
might be bias. But the interview method was chosen because it allows
flexibility to get full range and in-depth information from the
participants. Response rate very high use of panel is easy

The interviews will be carried out randomly on a few people from each
department. This may give an overview on the extent to which
appraisals motivate and will exemplify the relationship between
appraisals and motivation whilst moving along the hierarchy.

The second method that will be used will be in the form of
questionnaires, which will be handed out, this method was chosen as
questionnaires are a less expensive way to reach more people, data
analysis can begin right away..

Thoughts on questionnaires

Potential Advantages on questionnaires

• Easy to administer

• Can cover a variety of topics in a brief amount of time

• Helps to establish relationship with participants

• Easier to communicate results

Potential Disadvantages

• Information (perception and opinion) considered to be indirect data

• Good surveys and questionnaires are difficult to develop

• Voluntary participation may result in biased results

• Forced-response choices may not allow individuals to respond as they

I can over come the disadvantages of this method by; -

• Pilot all instruments

Non-appropriate methods

Mail surveys this method was considered to eliminates interviewer bias
but the disadvantages involved with method was that no one would be
available to prod respondent to answer questions, no on would be
available to answer respondent questions and also mail surveys would
take longer to get back in addition to blank responses are more
frequent so this method was not preferred.

Data analysis and presentation

Microsoft data analysis software i.e. Excel will be used to analyse
data. Graphs are one way to visualize data and will be used as they
help when looking for patterns. Data will be constructed into graphs.
This will sufficiently analyse the descriptive information. It will
also allow the research aims and objectives to be examined and allow
the hypothesis “To what extent do performance appraisals motivate
individuals in the workplace” to be established.

From the analysed results, the findings of the value of performance
appraisals or the impact of the appraisals on motivation inside NOP
can be acknowledged. This information can then be used to make
recommendations for improvement to the company.


Task Carried Out

Section 2

Attain permission from NOP head office to conduct research

Section 3

Setting up

Section 4

Monitor conditions

Section 5

Start observations

Section 6 to 9

Evaluate and study results put together recommendations

Section 10

Report Writing

Gantt Chart Showing Project Time Management



























Research Task

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Report writing

Section 11



Presenting the study

Gantt chart showing project time management

Project Budget

The research will be self-funded.




Constructing questionnaire e.g. printing costs


Material e.g. stationary, paper etc


Travel costs


* Floyd, D. (1994). Business Studies London, Letts Educational

* Holborn & Haralambos. (2000). Sociology Themes and Perspectives
Third Edition. Colloins

* Mullins, L.J. (2003). Management and organisational behaviour 6th
Edition. FT/ Prentice Hall.

* Torrington, D. & Hall , L. (1995). Personal Management – HRM in

Prentice Hall.

* Saunders, M.Lewis, P. & Thornhill. A. (2003). Research Methods for

Students 3rd Edition . FT/Prentice Hall.




* Reinterpreting the performance of immigrant wages from panel data.
By : Hum, Derek; Simpson, Wayne. Empirical Economics, 2004, Vol.
29 issue 1, p129,19p

* Latest Surveys offer Insigths into how to motivate and retain your
top performers.


* Pg.423. Mullins, Laurie J. (2003)

* Pg. 423 Mullins, Laurie J. (2003).



[2] pg423.mullins,laurie J.2003

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