The Critical Incident Appraisal


Critical Incident Appraisal focuses the rater’s attention on those critical or key behaviors that make the difference between doing a job effectively and doing it ineffectively. The appraiser writes down anecdotes describing what the employee did that was especially effective or ineffective. With this approach to appraisal, specific behaviors are cited, not vaguely defined individual traits. A behavior-based appraisal should be more valid than trait-based appraisals because it is clearly more job related. It is one thing to say that an employee is “aggressive,” “imaginative,” or relaxed,” but that does not tell us anything about how well the job is being done. Critical incidents, with their focus on behaviors, judge performance rather than personalities.

The strength of the critical incident method is that it looks at behaviors. Additionally, a list of critical incidents on a given employee provides a rich set of examples from which employees can be shown which of their behaviors are desirable and which ones call for improvement. In drawbacks are basically that: 1) appraisers are required to regularly write these incidents down, and doing this on a daily or weekly basis for all employees is time-consuming and burdensome for supervisors; and 2) critical incidents suffer from the same comparison problem found in essays—mainly, they do not lend themselves easily to quantification. Therefore the comparison and ranking of employees may be difficult.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Lacking Commitment


Why do so many senior people appear hesitant and half-hearted? Why are the communications concerning change programs so anemic, especially when coming from those who have little difficulty in putting their points across in other contexts?

We have to get at the roots of ambivalence. The reasons for concern, quiet dissent, and reluctance to commit need to be probed:

  • Apparent support may only mean that those concerned are crawlers, bootlickers and toadies. There is often reluctance to accept the reality that all manner of loathsome and self-serving creatures inhabit the corridors of corporate bureaucracy. Their wiles, and the games they play, which are so transparent to outsiders, and destructive of external relationships built upon mutual trust and respect, go unnoticed or are ignored within.
  • Those who appear difficult may be the individuals with intellectual reservations. These could relate to the application of a program in a particular area, or to an initiative as a whole. The objectors could be the ones who have thought it through and uncovered missing elements. An implementation process needs to incorporate a means of listening to, and learning from, those who have valid objections.
  • Also, not all customers have the same preferences. What is added value for one person may be regarded as an expensive luxury by other.

Bland ‘motherhood’ statements suggest people have not thought through what needs to be done. People judge by what they see rather than on the basis of what is said. The informal messages, the examples and the symbols, can undercut formal communications.

Too often the changes of attitudes that are sought are not reflected in the language used by managers, the anecdotes and war stories that make up the mythology of a company, in symbols such as the allocation of parking spaces or use of exercise facilities, and in how a myriad of day-to-day matters are handled. Changing structures and processes may not be followed by attitudes where managers themselves, and particularly senior managers, refuse to act as role models.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.