Research Paper: Employee Selection

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Employee Selection & Performance Appraisal in the U.S. Navy

Human resource management (HRM) has always been a critical function and process in organizations, particularly those who primarily depend on human resource or manpower for the organization's everyday operations or activities. Two critical stages in HRM help influence the organization's efficiency and success: employee selection process and eventually, performance appraisal management. These two important stages in HRM are critical to an organization because the appropriate and correct person-job and person-organization fit will determine the success of the organization's projects, from inception/launch to implementation or development.

Employee selection and performance appraisal management are especially critical and rigorous in organizations like the military. In this paper, HRM will be discussed in the context of employee selection and performance appraisal management in the United States Navy. In the sections that follow, discussion will center on the identification and analysis of methods and techniques used in selecting employees and assessing their performance in the U.S. Navy. Further into the analysis, these methods will be evaluated based on their appropriateness, reliability and validity, as well as strengths and weakness as tools in determining the successful applicant for the job or available position. Discussion findings will be used to develop recommendation on improvements in these identified and evaluated methods, including implications of these findings and recommendations in the HRM of the organization.

II. Analysis of Employee Selection and Performance Appraisal in the U.S. Navy

This section will analyze employee selection and performance appraisal based on the methods utilized by the U.S. Navy to objectively assess its applicants and the performance of its employees, respectively. Each stage and their methods will be analyzed separately, with specific emphasis on how systematic and based on empirical data these methods are implemented and criteria are developed to help evaluators / HRM personnel assess applicants and employees objectively during the stage/process.

a. Employee Selection

Bohlander and Snell (2010) identified the job analysis as an important process in employee selection to determine the applicant's person-job and person-organization fit. Job analysis in determining person-job fit is focused in identifying the applicant's competencies, specifically, KSAO -- "knowledge, skills, abilities and other factors that lead to superior performance" (255). Person-organization fit, meanwhile, looks into the individual's competencies, qualifications and personality are appropriate to the organization's vision and mission, values and culture.

In the case of the U.S. Navy, person-job and person-organization fit are determined in two phases: first phase would be through a preliminary qualification process, which includes satisfying the following requirements: high school diploma or equivalent academic / educational attainment, passing the urine test and Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) exam. The ASVAB exams will determine the applicant's aptitude on the following knowledge and skill domains:

Work Knowledge

Arithmetic Reasoning

Mechanical Comprehension

Shop Information

Automotive Information

Mathematics Knowledge

General Science

Paragraph Comprehension

Assembling Objects

Verbal Expression

In addition to these knowledge and skill domains, additional test items are included recently, which focused on the following skills that is becoming mandatory in almost all companies and organizations today: coding speed, numerical operations, space perception, tool knowledge, general information and attention to detail.

After the first phase, the applicant will go through "A school," a mandatory training that will help the new recruit-trainee learn the knowledge and skills required for the job s/he was accepted in. The new recruit-trainee will be immediately sent to fleet once s/he passes the exam.

These recruitment phases integrate the person-job and person-organization fit required in the U.S. Navy. The first phase of the recruitment/application process accomplishes the required person-job fit assessment, while the second phase aligns the individual's competencies with the U.S. Navy's qualification standards, which also includes subsistence to a specific set of beliefs, values and work ethics. The U.S. Navy work ethos focuses on teamwork and discipline, which are evident in its organizational strategy, identifying the following specific skills and competencies required in its strategic imperatives: critical knowledge in warfighting, specialization in science, technology, engineering, and math, preferably obtained higher education, and has "virtual collaboration capabilities" ("Navy's Total Force Vision," 2010:7-10).

b. Performance Appraisal Management

Once a member of the Navy, employees will be further evaluated in terms of their performance for a specific period in the organization. This evaluation is accomplished annually to re-assess the individual's fit in the organization, and potentially, provide upward mobility in the ranks for the employee. Performance appraisal management implemented in the Navy is done in two stages (but this does not necessarily apply to all employees): performance appraisal and counseling as part of the employee's professional/personal development as a member of the organization.

The first is the performance appraisal itself. The Evaluation Report analyzes the individual's performance using different criteria and performance ratings. Employees are evaluated based on different domains, using a five-point performance traits scale (1- below standards / not progressing, 2-progressing, 3-meets standards, 4-above standards, and 5-greatly exceeds standards). These domains focus on the following knowledge, skills and competencies: professional knowledge, quality of work, equal opportunity, military bearing/character, personal job accomplishment, teamwork and leadership.

Apparently, these domains for evaluation and performance ratings included in appraisal forms trace their 'history' a systematic statistical process. A report by the Navy Human Resource Center demonstrated how the domains and performance ratings were statistically analyzed and checked for their reliability and validity. These domains or "dimensions" were created and developed based on the experiences and judgment of Navy officers themselves, and these domains were further 'dissected' and described through behavioral statements (Bourne, 2006). After which, these behavioral statements are categorized again to come up with the ideal or desired performance traits (i.e., final set of domains) for the employees to critically think about. For high level performance appraisals, the following domains are included: communication skills, coaching/mentoring, displaying integrity and professionalism, embracing personal and professional development, leading change, leading people, resource stewardship, organizational savvy, and mission accomplishment.

Even though these domains have been finalized and are implanted in the Navy's performance appraisal programs, these domains, constructs and behavioral statements are periodically updated for their statistical validity and reliability. In fact, this periodic updating and testing-retesting of performance domains and traits are based on "critical incident generation" from both rank and non-rank officers/employees. These incidents are said to be a "good representation across dimensions and effectiveness levels," ensuring also that translations of the domains and behavioral statements have acceptable accuracy (currently, these traits and domains are 99.2% accurate).

In addition to quantitatively determining the performance of its employees, the Navy also strategically enforces professional and personal development by helping its employees create and follow their own (approved) performance plans (Naval Service Training Command, 2006). The development of the performance plan would be the second stage to the Navy's performance appraisal management. At this stage, the employee implements his/her own performance plan, which includes counseling to aid the employee in determining new or additional trainings s/he should take to further enhance his/her competencies. These additional development trainings or programs could be implanted and accomplished as either a move to provide the employee in-depth or broader knowledge and skills about a certain area of expertise. The following year, the employee will again be evaluated based on his/her performance in the past year, which will include the accomplishment of counseling recommendations / trainings suggested for his/her further improvement as an employee of the U.S. Navy.

Given these methods of assessing applicants and employee performance in the Navy, each has their own relative strengths and weaknesses. In the employee selection process, military organizations remain susceptible to inaccurate or false information from applicants/prospective employees. During the preliminary screening of applicants, thorough conduct of background checks are critical and ensure that the military organization's confidence is rightfully entrusted to qualified and trustworthy individuals. Further, pressure from the HRM to comply and deliver to human resource needs or requirements of military organizations could lead to selection of applicants with low or poor fit with the job and organization. Thus, job analysis, especially determining the applicant's fit to the job and organization, should be done with the right balance of meeting the deadline and conducting the correct job analysis for each applicant under consideration. It is also critical that evaluators conducting the job analysis are skilled in aligning the applicants' competencies with the organizations vision, mission and values to ensure that hired applicants will have higher probability of staying or being retained and promoted in the organization for years.

Testing and retesting constructs and ratings used in appraisal forms should be periodically conducted, as these constructs and even standardized rating systems tend to change over time. Further, these constructs' content validity must be periodically monitored and re-assessed to determine if they are still responsive to the organizational structure and values. A combination of both quantitative and qualitative assessment tools within the appraisal form provide the right balance for both employees and evaluators to generate objective yet in-depth information about the employees' performance for the year (Schwerin, 2006:230 and Scroggins, 2008:186).

III. Recommendations

Currently, methods utilized by the U.S. Navy to assess its applicants… [END OF PREVIEW]

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