Why A Subjective Performance Evaluation System Is Important

Employee performance evaluation is one of the important ways of finding out the value that different employees deliver to their employer. Performance evaluation and its findings can have a big impact on lots of other related aspects, such as allocation of work, bonuses, and promotions amongst others. There are two different ways through which organizations can evaluate the performance of their employees – subjective performance evaluation and objective performance evaluation – both of these types are fundamentally different.

Objective performance evaluation is done to determine how good employees are doing on a few predefined quantitative measures. This gives HR managers and organizations a more tangible way of basing their future actions. On the other hand, subjective performance evaluation takes a more subjective or independent view of an employee’s performance over a period of time. In this type of performance evaluation, the key figure is the performance evaluator. It is their subjective measurement of how employees have done on certain parameters that counts.

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It is up to the evaluators to decide whether or not they want to take the quantitative indicators of the objective evaluation into account. Subjective evaluation puts more focus on an employee’s overall value to an organization – objective evaluation gives similar importance to numbers.

Objective evaluation is a formula based approach to award appraisals and promotions. However, subjectivity also plays a key role in even the most objective of evaluations. There are several reasons why organizations should go subjective to ensure that all performance appraisals are merited. Evaluation is done to gauge what businesses make of an employee’s performance in a given time.

Objective evaluation is a good way to substantiate insights but the final decision still rests with the evaluator. In addition to taking numbers into account, it is also important for organizations to learn the tactics and approach employees adopted to get there. It won’t be right to give good performance appraisals to those who have turned to unethical means to achieve their targets. Rewarding people who look great on paper but not in practice can hurt businesses in the long run.

This is where subjective performance appraisals come in. One of the biggest advantages of subjective performance evaluation is that it doesn’t discount the efforts of those who fell short because of things that weren’t in their control or because they used their time in contributing to other areas. The subjective evaluation also helps employers in doing away with the weaknesses associated with bonus structures and compensation plans. This is especially important because it helps to retain those employees that can leave due to organizations over reliance on numbers for evaluation.

The biggest disadvantage of subjective performance evaluation is how it makes certain employees feel hard done by. It could make employees believe, which in some cases could also be true, that some colleagues are being given special treatment. This could result in charges of bias on the performance evaluators. The best way to avoid such situations is to create a balance between both these approaches. So instead of objective vs subjective performance appraisal, it should be objective and subjective appraisals working together to reward the deserving employees.


  • “The benefits of evaluating performance subjectively” | Michael Gibbs, Kenneth A Merchant, Wim A Van Der Stede, and Mark E Vargus
  • “What Is a Subjective Performance Evaluation?” | Neil Kokemuller

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