CASE STUDY

CASE STUDY HOW UPS DELIVERS OBJECTIVE PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS
Determining whether a supervisor is using enough objectivity during the employee review is one of the most dif?cult aspects of any company’s employee evaluation process.
With this in mind, the United Parcel Service (UPS), based in Washington D.C., is deploying personal digital assistants (PDAs) to its supervisors to use in on-road driver evaluations. The PDAs are equipped with proprietary software that standardizes the evaluation process, helping to ensure that each driver review is as objective as possible.
“Our supervisors do ride-alongs to see if the driver is following procedures and adhering to our health and safety policies,” says Cathy Callagee, vice president of applications development for UPS’s operations portfolio. “But this is problematic because supervisors have to write notes on paper, then bring their notes back to the of?ce and type them into reports.”
Paper is eliminated with the help of PDAs, which display a series of checklists for the supervisor to use during the evaluation. The checklists guide the supervisors through a list of duties the driver should be performing. The supervisor simply checks off each duty as the driver completes it. Additionally, the checklists are uniform across the UPS network, so each driver receives the same evaluation, regardless of who is conducting the review.
The new PDAs also are helpful for supervisors because they serve as a remote of?ce, allowing supervisors to receive e-mail and check the status of other activities while they are on the road with drivers. Currently, UPS has 1,400 PDAs in the ?eld, with plans to deploy an additional 600 this year.
“Supervisors can now electronically write how their drivers are doing and if they are following procedures,” Callagee says. “If not, the supervisor can bring the applied methods right up on the PDA and walk the driver through it.” Before PDAs, drivers and supervisors were forced to memorize these instructions or put notes in their back pocket, but since the data is transmitted electronically, they can simply plug the PDA into their PC and it automatically uploads the information to the PC.
“The use of PDAs eliminates paperwork, makes the rides more consistent and complete, improves the accountability of UPS supervisors and also increases the professionalism for the group,” Callagee says. “This is going to become a way of life for UPS supervisors.”
The PDAs also identify training needs, which will be particularly helpful to new drivers who might need additional safety training. “Our objective is to have drivers follow procedures that will help make their job safer, [make them] more ef?cient and provide better service for customers,” Callagee says. “From a workforce perspective, the use of PDAs will make training easier so we can accomplish these goals.”
For Discussion
1. Would Jeffrey Pfeffer be likely to call UPS a people-centered company? Why or why not?
2. Which one (or what combination) of the performance appraisal techniques discussed in this chapter is UPS using? Explain.
3. How would you rate the legal defensibility of UPS’s driver evaluation program? Explain.
4. From an ethical standpoint, there is a thin line between supervision and “snoopervision.” In your opinion, has UPS crossed that line? Explain.
5. How could UPS improve its driver evaluation program?
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