Importance of Reliability, Acceptability, Sensitivity & Practicality in Performance Appraisals

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  • 0:00 Effective Performance…
  • 1:05 Sensitivity
  • 1:34 Reliability
  • 2:14 Acceptability
  • 2:42 Practicality
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

A tool is only valuable if it is useful. The same holds true for performance appraisals. In this lesson, you'll learn that effective performance appraisals meet the requirements of relevance, sensitivity, reliability, acceptability and practicality.

Effective Performance Appraisals

Malcolm is a human resources specialist that is currently revamping his company's performance appraisal system, which is a formal process of reviewing and assessing the performance of individual employees and teams concerning their effectiveness and productivity. In designing an appraisal system, Malcolm needs to make sure five general requirements are met to ensure the performance appraisal is effective. The system should be relevant, sensitive, reliable, acceptable and practical.


Malcolm must make sure that the new performance appraisal is relevant. Relevance means that the performance criteria are correlated to the performance goal it seeks to measure. For example, evaluating the dress and grooming of a research scientist to determine her effectiveness in developing new drugs for the company is not a relevant criterion. There is no link between the criterion and the goal. However, assessing the leadership ability of the scientist may be relevant if the scientist heads a research team.


Malcolm knows that a performance appraisal is a measuring device, and just like all measuring devices, it will be useless if it is not sensitive. A performance appraisal is sensitive if it is able to distinguish between success and failure or between effective and ineffective employees. If the appraisal system can't separate the wheat from the chaff, it has no use. A system that is not sensitive will rate high performers no better than low performers.


Malcolm also knows that an effective appraisal system is a reliable system. A performance appraisal is reliable if different people, often called raters, get the same result when using the system to rate the same employee or team. If different raters get different results, then the system's not consistent and not considered reliable. The more subjective the criteria are, the greater the risk to reliability. For example, assessing a salesperson based upon his likability is subject to reliability problems, but assessing him based upon sales revenue generated is objective and should be reliable.

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