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Old Methods of Performance Appraisal - Traits Approach

The Old / Traditional Methods of Performance Appraisal Traits Approach are :-

square 1. Ranking Methods

Ranking method is the oldest and simplest method of rating the employees. Here, all the employees who are doing the same job are compared with each other. Then, each employee is given a particular rank, i.e. First Rank, Second Rank, etc. The best employee is given the first rank, and the worst employee is given the last rank.

Methods of Performance Appraisal

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There are three ranking methods. viz.,

  1. Simple Ranking Method,
  2. Alternation Ranking Method, and
  3. Paired Comparison
Ranking method can be done very quickly and conveniently.

square 2. Graphic Rating Scale Method

Graphic rating scale method is one of the oldest and widely used methods of performance appraisal. Here a graphic scale is used to rate the employee. Factors such as quality of work, quantity of work, dependability, etc. are rated.

A simple graphic rating scale is shown in the sample table below.

Graphic rating scale

Graphic rating scale method is easy to understand and simple to use. It also consumes less time. However, it involves a lot of paper work and there are chances of bias by the rater.

square 3. Confidential Reports

This is an old and traditional method of rating the employees. A confidential report is a report about the employee. It is prepared by his immediate superior. It contains information about the employee's strengths, weaknesses, major failure and achievements. It also contains information about the employee's personality traits (qualities) and about his behaviour. Confidential report is used to take decisions about transfers, promotions, etc.

square 4. Checklist Method

First a checklist is prepared. It contains some statements about the employees behaviours on the job.

For e.g. check the following sample of a simple checklist.


The rater has to tick mark "Yes" or "No" for each statement. The rater must have full knowledge about the employee's behaviour on the job.

The main advantages of checklist method are :-

  1. It is simple,
  2. It is convenient,
  3. It takes less time, and
  4. it is very economical.

The main disadvantage of checklist method is that the statements are structured, and it does not have depth like the Critical Incident Method and the Essay Method.

square 5. Critical Incident Method

Here, the supervisor writes a brief report about any incident, which affects the performance of the job. The incident may be positive or negative. For e.g. A salesman is very patient with a difficult customer, and he succeeds in selling the goods to that customer. This is a critical incident. The supervisor writes a brief report about this incident. This report is in favour of the salesman. So the salesmen will get a high rating. This method has some disadvantages, as some supervisors only record negative incidents. They do not record positive incidents. Some supervisors are also biased while recording the incidents.

square 6. Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay is the simplest method of rating an employee. Here, the rater writes in detail, the employee's strengths, weaknesses and potential. He also gives suggestions for improvement. If the essays are written well then they can be used to improve the performance of the employees. This method is better than other complex methods.

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