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Abstract The main goal of this short essay is to analyze the part of human resources management in political campaigns that deals with performance appraisal of the party activists and volunteers. There are two main types or techniques for assessing the performance of party activists: formal or objective and informal or subjective type. With polemic method here will be estimated the strength of the hypothesis that most efficient method for performance appraisal of the party activists during political campaigns, in the case of the Macedonian political parties, is the formal and objective type. The paper will be structured in two main chapters. The first one will elaborate and explain the two models of performance appraisal used mainly by the private companies, and the second one will adjust those techniques (especially the formal one) to the human resources management with political campaigns in Macedonia and will explain the arguments pro and contra using the formal model.
Introduction Human resources are fundamental segment of each political organization. Their importance and utility is especially expressed during elections or political campaign period. The management of human resources in political campaigns is a complex task and requires efficient organization, with all its components: recruitment, training, motivation and performance appraisal. Each task or aspect of the management with human resources in political campaigns has its specific rules, characteristics and methods. Sometimes, if it’s a big and extensive campaign, all these branches need to be separated, but also connected, with each having its own leader which is responsible directly to the main campaign manager. However, very often all these tasks are conducted by one team of party supervisors or managers. Each of the previously mentioned segments of the management with human resources in political campaigns, also, has its own importance in achieving the final goal, and that is wining the elections. The quality of the recruitment process determines the quality of the people in the campaign. Their development seeks good training, and their motivation, whether from ideological reasons or for future material benefit, needs to be maintained and fueled continuously in order the activists to give their best. And the last, but not least important, is the process of assessing the performance and efficiency of the party activists and the members of the campaign. Effective assessment can recognize the weaknesses, or strengths, of each particular group or individual, and propose ways for improving their performance.
There are few types or methods for performance appraisal and feedback. There is one division that focuses on evaluation based on traits, behaviors or results. Nevertheless, the main division is between formal or objective and informal or subjective methods for assessing performance.1 These modes and types of performance appraisals derive from the studies and research in the management with human resources, mainly from the private companies or state institutions. However, they can also have significant usage in the management with human resources in political campaigns, especially in the case of Macedonian parties, because they, particularly the bigger ones, use great number of volunteers and party activists during election period. So, the main question that arises here is which type or mode of performance appraisal is more effective and suitable for the parties in Macedonia, the formal or the informal one? With mainly polemic method i.e. estimating the strengths and weaknesses of each one, this short essay will try to argue, and confirm, that the formal and objective type of performance appraisal of party activists is more effective and efficient, than the informal and subjective one. The essay is structured in two main chapters. In the first one, basic explanations and analyses of both types of performance appraisals are given. And in the second part are elaborated and explained all the arguments for and against the usage of the formal type of performance appraisal in the political campaigns of Macedonian political parties.
I Types of performance appraisal In the art of Management, the process of performance appraisal has essential place in the overall management with one organization. The assessment of the performance is an important link in the chain of management. Usually, it is defined as „a review and discussion of an employee's performance of assigned duties and responsibilities”.2 Even more simplified, performance appraisal is the evaluation of employees’ job performance and contributions to the organization.3 Closely related concept or assessment tool, also relevant in our case, is the performance feedback. Performance feedback is the „process through which managers share performance appraisal information with their subordinates, give subordinates an opportunity to reflect on their own performance, and develop, with them, plans for the future”.4 Before performance feedback, performance appraisal must take place. As we can see, all these concepts are defined for the need of the private companies mainly, or for the government agencies. However, that can be adjusted if we only replace the term “employees” with “party activists” or “volunteers”. Then the findings and research made in this field could be also relevant and useful in our case. As was said before, there are few types of performance appraisal (and feedback) of employees, or in our case party activists. The most important and relevant division is between
Jones, Gareth R. and George, Jennifer M. Contemporary Management (Fifth Edition). New York: McGrawHill, 2008, p.493-500 2 The Official web page of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Performance Appraisal Process. 28 Jan. 2012 http://www.wpi.edu/Admin/HR/performance-appraisal.html 3 Jones, Gareth R. and George, Jennifer M. Contemporary Management (Fifth Edition). New York: McGrawHill, 2008, p.493 4 Ibid
formal or objective and informal or subjective type. „Objective appraisals are based on facts and are likely to be numerical-the number of cars sold, the number of meals prepared, the number of times late…”5 Managers often use objective appraisals when results are being appraised because results tend to be easier to quantify than traits or behaviors. „When how workers perform their jobs is important, however, subjective behavior appraisals are more appropriate than results appraisals.”6 Subjective appraisals are based on managers’ perceptions of traits, behaviors, or results. However, because they are based on perceptions, there is always a possibility for inaccurate assessment. Objective appraisals are related to the formal ones, which are „assessments conducted at a set time during the year and based on performance dimensions and measures that were specified in advance.”7 On the opposite, the informal ones are „unscheduled appraisals of ongoing progress and areas for improvement”8. Usually the objective appraisals have the form of formal and the subjective the form of informal. Sometimes these modes of assessing performance are used together, sometimes separately.
II Application of the formal type of performance appraisal in political campaigns Although the final goal of every political campaign is winning the elections, each political campaign has its own specific set of tools, organization and short term objectives which determine the type/s of performance appraisals they will use. Before starting with the arguments pro and contra the formal or informal method, it is important to mention few very important assumptions relevant for the Macedonian political parties. Firstly, their campaigns and electoral successes significantly rely on their mass organization and collection of party activists and volunteers. And secondly, they appreciate primarily the results achieved by these activists, than their traits or behaviors. Although traits and behaviors of the volunteers are important to some extent, in the foreground is always the result. 9 For achieving that objective we claim, that most effective way of performance appraisal and feedback is the formal and objective type. Another confinement will also take place here. In the Electoral Law from 2006 is defined that „from the date of announcement of the elections until the Election day cannot pass more than 90 days, nor less than 70 days.”10 So here will be taken into consideration only that period of the campaign concerning the usage of the techniques for performance appraisal of the party activists. As was said before, the formal type of assessing the performance of human resources consists of numerical measures that provide clearer and more useful picture of the performance of the volunteers themselves. Adjusting the techniques used by the private companies and from the
Ibid, p.495 Ibid 7 Ibid, p.499 8 Ibid 9 Party representative of VMRO-DPMNE. Personal interview. 26 Jan. 2012 10 Собрание на Република Македонија. Изборен законик. Сл.Весник на Р.Македонија бр.40 од 31.03.2006. Член 12, став 4
Obama’s campaign11, we developed two main types of formal or objective techniques, which can be used by the Macedonian parties in assessing the performance of their party activists, during the Election campaign period. The first one, as shown in Figure 1, estimates numerically the activities of the volunteers and members of the campaign, and assesses their performance. This could be applied in the election campaigns of the Macedonian political parties, and can be conducted two times during election campaign period, each formal assessment after one month of the campaign. So the first one would be conduced somewhere in the middle of the campaign, and the second one, one week before the elections. After the first assessment, weaknesses of each member could be found and objective feedback could be provided to him/her, with explaining the ways for improving his/hers performance in the second part of the campaign. The second technique, which we propose is almost similar to the first one, but is more descriptive. The number could be replaced with descriptive terms. For example: 1-unsatisfactory; 2-minimally successful; 3-median successful; 4-fully successful; 5- exceptional.12
Figure 1 Example of formal and objective type of performance appraisal in Political Campaign
Of course, these techniques could be extended and used for more broad and different purposes in the campaign. These methods of performance appraisals in the case of the Macedonian parties have its positive and negative sides. The usage of the formal and objective technique would lead to better organization of the campaign itself. Every member of the campaign will know its tasks and place in the organization. Activists’ performance would be estimated, by their supervisors or campaign managers, by objective measures and in specific and previously determined time. We argue that the benefits for the Macedonian parties of using the techniques presented above will reflect in two main aspects. Firstly, it will cause and improve the efficiency of the overall campaign. There won’t be arbitrarily assessments, which are very often inaccurate and wrong. So the efforts invested by
Delany, Colin. Learning from Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 and Beyond. 2009. 27 Jan. 2012 http://www.epolitics.com/learning-from-obama.pdf 12 U.S. Department of the Interior. Performance Appraisal Handbook (370 DM 430). 28 Jan. 2012 http://www.doi.gov/hrm/guidance/370dm430hndbk.pdf
the activists would be the measure for the performance of one party activist. When everyone knows his/hers role in the campaign, the campaign itself will be more effective and efficient. And usually, the parties and campaigns which are better organized win the elections. There could also be established rewards, for example, someone who gets grade 5 to be promoted to some higher position in the campaign, which will bring for greater motivation of the party activists. That lead us to the second major benefit of using the formal performance appraisal technique, and that is the enhanced motivation of the campaign members. Other argument in favor of our hypothesis is the fact that VMRO-DPMNE, in the last three Parliamentary election campaigns had used similar kind of formal performance appraisal technique 13 which obviously had positive impact because they won those elections. However, here we must have in mind that there could be many other factors causing that outcome. Beside the benefits and positive characteristics, the system of performance appraisal proposed above, could be criticized from two main standing points. Firstly, it can create too much competition among party activists for accomplishing the tasks and gaining promotion, and that can discourage cooperation and teamwork. Teamwork and cooperation are important, especially, in political organizations and campaigns in order to keep the cohesiveness and unity on high level. The second anticipated critique argues that this type of performance appraisal is too much impersonal, almost mechanized, and that sometimes there is need for subjective assessment, because these mechanized techniques could overlook some important qualities of one activist. Although these critiques have their own weight and strength in their arguments, their relevance could be significantly diminished in the case of the Macedonian political parties and their campaigns. What Macedonian parties lack most is inner competition and inner conflict of ideas between people with different capabilities. And we argue that the techniques proposed above will stimulate that inner-party competition. Cooperation could still be maintained through establishing same set of rules for everyone and creating effective system of supervision and control. The other critique has also lack of relevance in the election campaigns in Macedonia and organization of the Macedonian parties. The highly personal and often kinship relations and unquestionable solidarity are the main features and characteristics that define the inner culture of the political parties in Macedonia. And those features are reflected and copied in the culture of state institution, after particular party wins the elections, and even in the culture of the Macedonian society itself. That creates nepotism and corruption which hinder the economic development and the reform process for approximation to the European Union. The formal and objective techniques for performance appraisal could accelerate and increase the inner-party competition and increase the impersonal and technocratic relations in the parties that could positively affect the overall society.
Party representative of VMRO-DPMNE. Personal interview. 26 Jan. 2012
Conclusion The part of the human resources management in political campaigns that analyzes the performance of the party activists differentiates two main types or techniques. The first one is the formal or the objective type, which is numerical, easily measurable and conducted in previously determined time sequence. The other one, the subjective and informal, relies more on the perceptions of supervisors and managers in assessing the performance of their subordinate. In this essay, using mainly the polemical method, we argued that the formal type of performance appraisal could be more relevant and useful in the case of the Macedonian political parties. The using of the objective performance appraisal techniques could increase inner party competition, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the campaign itself and could increase the motivation of the party activists or volunteers. There are, however, some critiques, which claim that formal techniques could discourage cooperation and teamwork among the activists, claiming as we show has little relevance in the case of Macedonian political parties. And in the end we can assert with high level of confidence that the formal and objective techniques for performance appraisal of the party activists, could improve the overall efficiency of the campaign in terms of better results and winning the elections.
Bibliography Delany, Colin. Learning from Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 and Beyond. 2009. 27 Jan. 2012 http://www.epolitics.com/learning-from-obama.pdf Gregory Scott and Stephen Garrison. „The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual (Forth edition)”. New Jersey: Upper Saddle River, 2002 Jones, Gareth R. and George, Jennifer M. Contemporary Management (Fifth Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008 Party representative of VMRO-DPMNE. Personal interview. 26 Jan. 2012 The Official site of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. 27 Jan. 2012 http://www.barackobama.com/ The Official web page of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Performance Appraisal Process. 28 Jan. 2012 http://www.wpi.edu/Admin/HR/performance-appraisal.html U.S. Department of the Interior. Performance Appraisal Handbook (370 DM 430). 28 Jan. 2012 http://www.doi.gov/hrm/guidance/370dm430hndbk.pdf Собрание на Република Македонија. Изборен законик. Сл.Весник на Р.Македонија бр.40 од 31.03.2006
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