Sources of Performance Information

Posted on February 1, 2013 by Katherine Razzi

Are you interested in re-vamping or creating a performance appraisal process for employees? The performance appraisal process is a tricky one that involves a great deal of planning and thought. Moreover, no performance appraisal system can be perfect so leaders in organizations tend to be on the look for the latest trends and best practices in the field. While I may not be able to provide a fool-proof answer to all performance appraisal problems, I can share some tips on choosing sources of performance appraisal feedback based on my studies.

To begin with, consider:¬†who should have input when rating an employee’s performance at work? The supervisor? A subordinate? A peer? Oneself? The following are a few advantages and disadvantages to obtaining information and ratings from these sources that should help managers decide which sources would be most appropriate in their organization.

  • Upper management:
  1. Supervisors are likely to see many of the day to day tasks completed by employees and know how the employees’ outcomes relate to overall organizational objectives
  2. Supervisors may not be aware of how employees interact with one another
  • Subordinates:
  1. Subordinates tend to closely monitor their supervisor’s behavior, making them a good candidate for rating supervisor performance, but
  2. They may not see the supervisor’s day to day tasks that do not directly involve the subordinate and would not be able to speak to these behaviors
  • Peers:
  1. Peers are well-equipped to rate other team members’ performance since they would work closely with them on a daily basis. They would also witness typical performance as opposed to maximum performance that might occur if an employee knows a manager is watching.
  2. There may be interpersonal problems that arise if a team member rates another negatively which could in turn reduce group cohesiveness.
  • Self:
  1. Being able to rate one’s self (along with at least one other source) can help to reduce defensiveness or other negative reactions to negative feedback from someone else because this gives the individual more voice in the process about how he or she perceived the performance level.
  2. People are not humble when rating themselves and tend to attribute success to internal factors and failures to external factors (a.k.a. the self-serving bias).

As you can see, there are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to each source so, dependent upon situational constraints of the organization, each one should be weighed accordingly.


Murphy, K. R., & Cleveland, J. N. (1995). Understanding performance appraisal: Social, organizational, and goal-based perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

About Katherine Razzi

Katherine Razzi hails from the Midwest and holds a B.A. in Applied Behavioral Science from National-Louis University, Evanston Campus. Coursework in cultural diversity, management, organizational dynamics, morals and ethics, group interaction, and psychology.

What Others Are Saying

  1. chebet robert October 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

    very informative

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