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Why to Discuss a Manpower Review?
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Why to Discuss a Manpower Review?

by Artur Victoria

Do you know that more productive and constructive man-manager appraisal discussions result from the use of a performance appraisal form prepared by the subordinate as contrasted with the usual form prepared by the manager? Interesting (and useful!)

A number of interesting on-the-job studies indicate that more productive and constructive man-manager appraisal discussions result from the use of a performance appraisal form prepared by the subordinate as contrasted with the usual form prepared by the manager.

When a man has to quantify and review his own performance, he seems to get a clearer perception of his job duties and the causes of under-achievement and to form a more realistic picture of his own performance.

Differences of opinion are often resolved or at least clarified when man and manager talk about where and how they differ in their perceptions of expectations and results. Frequent discussions of issues, problems, and results do contribute to high employee morale and the development of constructive man-manager relationships. When the employee feels that he is really doing important work, his production will improve along with his morale. A majority of managers prefer having the subordinate prepare an appraisal. Some favor having both man and manager fill out a form in pencil, exchange copies in draft form, and hold a constructive discussion. In future sessions, performance is less likely to fall short of expectations following a discussion that is based on the subordinate self-appraisal.

Employees with a high need for independence reacted very favorably to the use of self-appraisal. Ratings are more realistic with this approach than with the traditional manager-prepared form.

It seems clear that the employee must be a full participant both in setting standards and in evaluating and discussing results. Regardless of format used, a number of techniques seem to generate superior results in terms of attaining full benefit from the actual discussion with the employee. Managers should be aware that a number of factors will affect individual receptivity. Some of these factors are age, experience, rivalries, on-the-job and off-the-job pressures, length of time on this assignment, his desire for advancement and recognition, and the extent to which these desires have been met in the past.

With a good performance review behind him, each manager should be prepared to discuss his manpower situation in an annual manpower review. The human resources executive should lead ti s review, which should be separate from annual profit plan or financial reviews. This is exclusively a human resources review. The chief policy makers and appropriate group executives should participate in this discussion.

A manpower review is designed to improve a manager understanding of his subordinates present and potential performance so he can make better promotion decisions that are based on more realistic manpower planning and utilization.

Manpower reviews conclusively demonstrate top management interest in the development of people. Managers should be asked to be thoroughly prepared for these reviews; meetings should be scheduled three months in advance. In their preparation, serious replacement problems will be highlighted in advance. A more critical look will be taken at poor performers as managers prepare a plan for action on manpower problems. The fact that an entire meeting is focused on management manpower resources will help to counter the tendency to delay decisions and action about people because of work pressures. And finally, a sound basis is provided for manpower development because people with high potential become known to the most senior members of the management team.

This is the procedure. At least three months ahead of the scheduled meeting, each key manager who will be expected to review his people is sent a list of questions to be discussed. He is also asked to bring to this meeting copy of his organization chart as one of the base for his review. It should be noted that these reviews are best conducted in an informal atmosphere; structured presentations should be discouraged. But each manager is expected to define his plans to capitalize on his strengths and correct his weaknesses organizationally speaking. The discussion should consider managers, supervisors, and key specialists.

While informality is encouraged, each manager must demonstrate that he really knows his people by covering the following ground:

  • The performance of each key man in terms of managerial, technical, and professional results, including the development of his own people where appropriate.
  • What he himself has done in the past year to improve the performance of his key people and the extent to which his annual review helped, if at all.
  • What specifically he plans to do, including timing, to handle less than satisfactory performance.
  • What are his most likely replacement needs over the next two years? Who are the most likely internal candidates? What is he doing to get them ready? Where no internal candidates are available, what are his recruitment plans?
  • What are some of the more significant things the managers who report to him are doing to improve the performance and promotion of their key people?
  • Who are his own immediate, near-term (two to three years), and long-term (three to ten years) executive backups?
  • How many unsatisfactory performers has he removed from their jobs during the year? Where did they go?
  • Who are his five weakest and his five strongest performers, and what is he doing and planning to do for each?
  • What has he done about establishing personnel development goals at all levels of his organization, and how has he communicated this to get maximum benefit?
  • What has been his experience in delegation-successful or otherwise? How does he plan to improve his delegation of responsibility, authority, and accountability?
  • What has he done to improve the working climate in his operations, and what effects have his actions had on motivation?
  • What problems has he detected in integrating the work of his operations with that of others?
  • How does he tell his people about areas requiring managerial atten¬tion, and what are some examples of results?
  • What has been his progress in recruiting and developing minority group executives?


A manager who has to prepare himself for this kind of review will surely come to know all his key people better; he will communicate more with them and he will spur their own self-development efforts.

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