Comm 392: HR Review Questions 2009 (cont’d)
VI. Managing Employee Performance
1. Explain the key steps in the performance appraisal process.
• Define performance expectations – quantifiable, measurable and clear to all
• Appraise performance – compare employee’s actual performance to
• Provide feedback – discuss progress and plans for development
2. Define two types of performance appraisal methods, and the advantages
and disadvantages associated with them.
• Graphic rating scale (easy to develop and use, less legally defensive b/c
• Critical incident (concrete facts, not just based on recent behaviour, specifies
what’s right/wrong, but not useful by itself or to compare employees)
• BARS (more concrete and accurate, legally defensive, time consuming to
develop, difficult to keep info current)
3. Explain some of the problems that are commonly associated with the
performance appraisal process.
• Unclear standards, employees not aware of expectations, unrealistic/subjective
standards, lenient/strict supervisors who have poor LT memory/discriminate, failure
to use appraisals in decision making, overly optimistic and emotional employees,
ineffective communication turns into argument
4. Describe the key elements of an effective performance interview and justify
your recommendations, given the purpose of the interview.
• Prepare in advance, be direct and specific, focus on job-related behaviours, not
personal character, encourage them to talk by asking open-ended questions,
develop action plan, look for ways to assist employee
• Better for constructive criticism and to deal with defensive employees, leads to
improved performance, removes deficiencies, reinforces strengths
5. Why is coaching such an important element of the performance appraisal
• Motivate through recognition and rewards, strengthen employee-mgr relations,
encourage 2-way communication to identify ind/org problems
6. Many managers are uncomfortable appraising employee performance.
Explain some of the reasons why these situations can be uncomfortable for managers, and recommend some ways for improving the performance appraisal
• Worry about legal issues and how to properly rate employees
• Remedies – training, HR provides guideline, multiple appraisers, corrective guidance
• Example: Recommend a performance appraisal method for salespeople, web
designers, and web surfers (see p. 311 of the text). Why do you recommend this
method? Are there any legal implications associated with this method?
(a) Conduct a job analysis to ascertain
characteristics (eg. “Timely project completion”) required for successful job
performance. Use this information to create job-performance standards.
(b) Incorporate these characteristics into
a rating instrument.
-Rating instruments that are tied to specific job behaviours, such as BARS
(c) Make sure that definite standards of performance are provided to
all raters and ratees in writing.
(d) Use clearly defined and measurable individual dimensions of job
performance (eg. “quantity” or “quality”) rather than undefined, global measures
of job performance (eg. “overall performance”).
(e) When using a graphic rating scale, avoid abstract trait names (eg.
“loyalty”, “honesty”) unless they can be defined in terms of observable
(f) Employ subjective supervisory ratings or comments as only one
component of the overall appraisal process.
(g) Train supervisors to use the rating instrument properly. Give
instructions on how to apply performance appraisal standards when making
judgments. Ensure that subjective standards are not subject to bias.
(h) Allow appraisers regular contact with the employee being
(i) Whenever possible, have more than one appraiser conduct the
appraisal, and conduct al such appraisals independently. This process can help
to cancel out individual errors and biases.
(j) Utilize formal appeal mechanisms and a review of ratings by upper-
(k) Document evaluations and reasons for any termination decision.
(l) Where appropriate, provide corrective guidance to assist poor
performers in improving their performance. VII. Discipline and Fairness in the Workplace
1. Compare and contrast how an employee can respond to discipline in the union vs.
the non-union sector. Under what circumstances can an employee be dismissed?
• Non-union: law doesn’t allow suspension of these employees, may dismiss employee
w/o notice if just cause, if no just cause must give reasonable notice, employee may
sue for wrongful dismissal
• Union: employees may be suspended for misconduct, may file discipline/discharge
as grievance, penalty subject to be reduced by arbitrator
2. Explain the significance of “just cause” in relation to dismissals.
• Just cause – legally defensible reason
• Can terminate with min. reasonable notice if no just cause, or need just cause
3. When does an employee have a legitimate wrongful dismissal claim?
• Wrongful dismissal – employee dismissal that doesn’t comply with law or contract
• If employees feel that there is no just cause, or min. notice is not acceptable
• Watch out for – discharge ppl just before receive pension, females before maternity,
constructive dismissal, etc.
4. How does an adjudicator evaluate a wrongful dismissal case?
• Whether there was just cause, or min. reasonable notice given if none
• Reviewed by court to determine if bad faith conduct
5. Distinguish the differences between culpable and non-culpable discipline and
provide examples of each type.
• Culpable – blameworthy, ex. absent b/c gone skiing
• Non culpable – not employee’s fault (cannot discipline), ex. absent b/c sick
• Employer has right to understand cause and right to take corrective steps
6. Explain the key components of a fair and just disciplinary process.
• Rules and regulations
o Have clear rules, inform employees ahead of time
• Progressive penalties
o Severity increases with number of offences
• Appeals process
o Ensure discipline was fair, gives employee voice mechanism
7. What is the significance of the Wm. Scott case in regard to discipline?
• Arbitration board will ask 3 questions, if culpable conduct: