Critical Incident Performance
BUS 375: Employee Training
Kopp (2012) describes critical incidents withing performance appraisals as “The
supervisor’s attention is focused on specific or critical behaviors that separate effective from
ineffective performance.” (sec. 3.4, para. 8) Using this method, the supervisor observes the
employee and gathers behavioral data to examine the critical incidents throughout the year. The
rating is determined by assessing which behavior, negative or positive, had more of an impact on
their job performance. There are advantages and disadvantages of using this performance
appraisal method. I chose this performance appraisal method because if it is executed properly,
you can train, motivate and develop your staff effectively.
There are advantages of using the critical incident approach that include it’s based on
direct observations, time tested and provides more face time. Basing evaluation is one of the
greatest strengths of the is approach. By the supervisor observing the employee firsthand, they
can see how the employee is executing on their responsibilities. (Rowe, 2018) This can
also be used if a was observed and the employee was given feedback on how to
address the opportunity. The supervisor can observe if the employee is implementing the
feedback or not. Based on the observations the supervisor can identify if it is a will or a skill
issue of the employee which can also assist with what talk track to use that would discuss more
training or possibly corrective action. The data is gathered by the supervisors throughout the
This allows monthly evaluation and feedback to be given to the employee to address and make
corrections or continue using their current methods. It also allows the supervisor to review the
employee’s entire performance instead of their most recent performance or a last-minute attempt
to scurry and gather information for review. Another advantage to the critical incident approach
is the ability for the supervisor to give that real-time feedback and coaching. Being in the
moment and providing the immediate feedback allow the opportunities to be addressed
immediately so both parties can utilize the momentum while the incident is still fresh.
Some of the disadvantages are rating satisfactory/unsatisfactory behaviors as equals,
possible delayed feedback, and there is a tendency to record only negative incidents. If an
employees tend to exhibit more good behaviors than bad, or vice versa, one will outweigh the
other. This might not give an accurate depiction of the employee’s performance. For instance, if
an employee has five positive incidents and one negative incident it might be natural to measure
the good outweighing the bad. However, if the negative incident has more bearing like costing
the company money, that one incident could outweigh the positive incident. Feedback is a gift,
however, if not expressed in the right manner or delivered timely it can also be a curse. Not
giving feedback in real-time or enough feedback can cause confusion and be challenged by the
employee as they both can recall the incident a different way and because too much time has
passed, it can lose impact. (Rowe, 2018) If a supervisor only records negative incidents, it
doesn’t showcase what the employee did right. One might struggle to recall things that were
done correctly and that wouldn’t be a fair assessment of the employees’ overall performance.
Within the ADDIE training design, the critical incident method can be instrumental. In
analysis stage, one would witness how the employee performs the job currently. It is observed
firsthand and you can ask questions in real-time as things occur to get an accurate description of
the events. This will help you identify your training plan. Once the analysis is completed, you
would move into the design phase in which you would utilize what you have witnessed firsthand
and strategize delivery methods, structure, duration assessment and feedback. (Flanagan, 1954)
This would come from your observations and the feedback as to why a certain task was
performed in a way. In the development stage, you would begin to create your courses
making sure they align with the design you structured. This would include be obtained from
reviewing the timing in which tasks are demonstrated. Evaluating would be useful in the critical
incident by way of obtaining the employees feedback. The feedback should answer if all the
goals of the training were met, identify other training requirements that are needed or change the
media type in which the training was executed.
In conclusion, the critical incident method can work if the supervisor is careful to ensure
the employees are evaluated correctly. By observing the employee on a regular basis, the leader
can make observations and ask questions and review opportunities with the employee. The
employees could also express their ideas of why the opportunity exists which could help remedy
the issue. The leader can also train the employee properly. If they are observing the employee
they can give immediate instruction on how to perform job functions. Errors can be limited
immediately and the leader can set expectations and follow up dates and times. Development of
the employee is important as well. As a leader, you want all your employees to be versed in
their job function and perform to maximum capacity.
Kopp, D. M. (2014). Human resource development: Performance improvement through learning [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://ashford.content.edu
Flanagan, J. C. (1954). The critical incident technique. Psychological Bulletin, 51(4), 327–358. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0061470
Rowe, R. (2018). Performance evaluations: investigating effective solutions. University of Wisconsin – Stout Retrieved from: https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/79786?show=full
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