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An effective leader adapts his evaluation style

Evaluation systems and performance assessments at organisations are aimed at stimulating better performance from each employee in the same way. But managers seem to use a different evaluation style for employees who perform well and those who do not.

Jan Noeverman studied the influence of managers’ evaluation styles on the behaviour of subordinates. On Friday 21 December 2007 he will defend his dissertation Management Control Systems, evaluation style and behaviour: an exploration of the concept and behavioural effects of evaluation styles at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The philosophy behind performance assessments and evaluations is that it helps steer the behaviour of employees, and ultimately improves the organisation’s (financial) performance. But do these systems work the same for every employer and employee? Noeverman demonstrates that not only the subject of the system is important, but that it is equally important to look into the way in which managers use the system. How does a superior evaluate the performance of his subordinates?

Based on a literature survey, Noeverman describes how we can obtain better insight into the evaluation style of managers, and the influence this style has on the behaviour of subordinates. He also conducted an empirical survey among twelve managers and their subordinates at Van den Bergh Nederland (VDBN). Different styles of evaluation turned up within this organisation; this had an effect on the employee’s trust in his manager and the perceived fairness of the performance assessment.

The manner in which subordinates respond to their evaluation depends on a number of factors: the evaluation system itself, how the superior uses the system (his style), the value the subordinate attaches to the consequences of the evaluation, and the broader organisational context in which the evaluation takes place. Effective leaders take all of this into account. They adapt their evaluation style to the surroundings, the duties, and the assumed knowledge and skills of individual subordinates. In general, managers seem to use a different style when evaluating subordinates who perform relatively well in relation to their age and (work) experience than when evaluating other subordinates.

Jan Noeverman (1971) has been a university lecturer in Management Accounting at the School of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam since 1999. He has also been daily administrator of the sub-municipality of Prins-Alexander in Rotterdam since 2006. His research appears in the series from Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), the research school for management at Erasmus University Rotterdam. ERIM was founded by RSM Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics in 1999 and is officially recognised by the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). The aim of ERIM is to carry out first class research in the area of management and offer a post-graduate programme in Research in Management.

Yvette Nelen | alfa
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