The following appeared in a memo sent by an outside efficiency expert hired by a firm to evaluate employee performance.
"In the six months that I have been watching the employees, their productivity has
increased by over 12 percent. Therefore, my recommendation is that the employees
either be watched by, or think that they are watched by, an outside evaluator at all times
from this point on."
Discuss the merits of the previous argument. Analyze the evidence used as well as the general
reasoning. Present points that would strengthen the argument or make it more compelling.
In this memo, the expert is building his argument on several unsubstantiated assumptions that he has collated over his six month stay in the firm. He is suggesting a permanent employment of an external evaluator based on his observations and neglects other probable causes of an increment in the employee's productivity.
The most conspicuous assumption of them is the expert's absurd conclusion that the reported increased efficiency in the employee's performance was a direct result of his presence as an evaluator. Although it is common knowledge that human beings generally perform better as they are being watched over, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, certain employees crack under such pressure and their performance deteriorates as they are agonizing over the extra pair of eyes observing their every movement. They may waste time in an attempt to be perfectionists and evade any room for criticism or negative feedback.
In addition, this expert builds his argument on a belief that if the employees' performance had indeed been positively affected by his presence, that other outside evaluators will have the same effect. This is simply inane because an evaluator's personality, charisma and general approach to things profoundly affect the final outcome. He might have gathered expertise over the course of his career, which assisted him in being a positive influence onto the employees, something which other evaluators could lack. Just because this single evaluator supposedly succeeded in the 12% efficiency increment doesn't dictate that others from the same or different firm would hold to such standards.
Furthermore, the argument never discusses the possibility of other dramatic changes during those previous six months, that could have partaken in this improvement of productivity. What if the company was cutting back on employees and they were all fighting for a chance to keep their positions? What if the head manager had retired and a new one was appointed? What if a new archiving system had been implemented to keep work in order? What if the working hours had been extended or due to the plummeting economy employees were taking extra shifts to keep cash flowing? All of these are potential logical reasons for the change reported by the evaluator.
Therefore, in order to strengthen his argument, the evaluator should have considered all of the circumstances surrounding the employees which could have caused such changes. He should have corroborated his memo with a report on the employee's productivity for a week or so once he had left the organization and all was back to normal. Also, it is important to report similar changes in productivity reported by fellow colleagues to further buttress his suggestion and aver that such progress can be maintained by other external evaluators.
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