How UPS Delivers Objective Performance Appraisals Essay

Executive Summary:
In the analysis below you will read about UPS and how they deliver objective performance appraisals. You will gain an understanding of how the implementation of PDAs has standardized their evaluation process. It will further explain why UPS is not a people-centered company, how they incorporate the critical incidents appraisal technique, the legally defensibility of their evaluation program, how they don’t cross the thin line between supervision and “snoopervision” and what they can do to improve their driver evaluation program.


For the United Parcel Service (UPS) determining if objectivity is accurately being used during a review is a difficult process but an important one. The implementation of personal digital assistants (PDAs) has helped ensure the use of objectivity by standardizing the evaluation process through software. During reviews supervisors conduct ride-alongs with their employees to ensure procedures and policies are being followed. Before the introduction of companywide checklists through the PDAs there was no way of knowing if every employee was receiving the same evaluation and being evaluated on the same scale. PDAs have given supervisors the ability to stay contacted to things such as e-mail while quickly identifying training needs and allowing access to training resources. UPS has seen the advantages of PDAs and will continue to put more in the field as they ensure objectivity and provide a solid structure for employee evaluations.


According to (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2008) on page 273 Jeffrey Pfeffer found a connection between people-centered practices, higher profits, and lower employee turnover. He also identified seven people-centered practices three of which directly relate to this case. The first practice is employee empowerment through decentralization and self-managed teams. Decentralization according to (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2008)on page 254 is “management’s sharing of decision-making authority with lower-level employees.” In this case UPS has decided that supervisors instead of upper management such as human resources would conduct ride-alongs to evaluate how well their employees are performing and following procedures. The second practice is sharing of key information. With the implementation of PDAs supervisors are always connected to e-mail and other important resources.

The PDAs have made the evaluation process more uniform throughout the company and give supervisors the ability to quickly transfer information when they get back to the office. The third practice is comprehensive training. Supervisors can use the PDAs in the field to walk employees through applied methods and identify training needs. Although three of the seven people-centered practices relate to this case according to Pfeffer the seven practices are an integrated package that should not be implemented piecemeal and for this reason he would not call UPS a people-centered company. According to (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2008) on page 280 performance appraisal is “evaluating job performance as a basis for personnel decisions.” Based on the information in the case UPS is using the critical incidents technique.

The critical incidents technique mentioned in (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2008) on page 281 states, “Specific instances of inferior and superior performance are documented by the supervisor when they occur.” By conducting ride-alongs with the employees supervisors are in a perfect situation to fulfill the requirements of this technique. The PDAs with the checklists which are the same and used by everyone throughout the company ensure employees are being evaluated on the same procedures and policies and that supervisors are using the same evaluation scale when determining job performance. To avoid legal action when evaluating an employee’s performance according to (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2008) on page 280 employers need to base their appraisal systems on the following four criteria, job analysis, behavior oriented, specific written instructions, and reviewed results. UPS with the implementation of PDAs has clearly satisfied these requirements. Preloaded software has turned the evaluation process into a standard procedure while identifying and outlining the specific tasks and skills required for an employee to be successful. A series of checklists describing in detail the employee’s duties give supervisors the ability to objectively rate individual performance no matter who is giving the evaluation or where it is taking place.

During an evaluation if an employee is not following procedures supervisors have the ability to show them in the field the proper way it needs to be done. After the evaluation the supervisor has everything needed to give direct feedback and suggestions to the employee so they have a clear understanding of how they are doing and how performance can be improved. Snoopervision is a management style involving spying and intrusive practices. With this definition in mind UPS does not cross the thin line between supervision and snoopervision. Ride-alongs by supervisors are common practice and the best indicator of an employee’s performance. The implementation of PDAs have simply given the employee a fair chance at receiving an honest evaluation based solely on how they preform by standardizing the evaluation process companywide. For most employees in the U.S. a growing concern of their employer looking over their shoulder and violating their right to privacy is becoming more and more evident as technology evolves.

In the case of UPS this shouldn’t be a concern because the implementation of technology is not being used to spy or to implement intrusive practices but to properly train and keep employees safe while preforming their job. After reading the case I think the implementation of the PDAs have greatly improved the driver evaluation program. PDAs offer a companywide standardized evaluation process with easy access to information required to properly evaluate, train, and give feedback to employees. Moving forward a concentrated effort by upper management needs to be placed on making sure the employees are retaining and transferring information provided to them during the evaluation process to the job. They should also get feedback from their employees on how they viewed the evaluation program, if they gained the knowledge and skills intended, and if any improvements are being made. Implementing post-evaluation surveys and quizzes would serve as quick and easy indicators for supervisors if employees are actually learning and understanding the information they are receiving through the evaluation program. Insights /


Researching this case has given me a better understanding of how important the seven people-centered practices are to an organization and why only 12 percent of organizations are currently considered people-centered. It has opened my eyes to the performance appraisal process and how important it is for employers to ensure legal defensibility of their appraisals. Acquiring knowledge and information from employees is the key to properly gaining an understanding of how well an evaluation process is working and if any changes need to be made. Moving forward UPS simply needs to continue implementing procedures and policies that ensure the use of objectivity during employee evaluations. Supervisors need to fully understand these procedures and policies and make sure they continue to evaluate based on the guidelines listed in the checklists. Assuring proper retention and transfer of knowledge to the job will be an ongoing process and should be evaluated by ride-alongs with the use of post training surveys and quizzes. For success to continue in the organization communication along with up-to-date resources are key and it will be the responsibility of upper management to make sure both have a strong presence within the organization.

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