Human resource management and the appraisal system (self-test)

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ABC Accounting Co is a medium sized accounting firm that operates in Homeland. The firm employs 10,000 staff in Homeland, based in 20 offices around the country. The mission of the company is ‘To provide excellent service to our clients, and to support and develop our people to achieve their full potential.’

The Human resources department is located at head office, and provides support to all other offices as well as developing company wide HR policies. Recruitment takes place locally, but members of the HR department are involved in the recruitment and interview process for all offices.

The assessment process for junior staff in the audit department works as follows: At the end of each assignment, the supervisor (a member of staff with typically three years of experience) writes a report on the performance of each member of the team. There is no pre-determined structure to the report, the supervisor simply writes in freehand form any comments. The junior staff do not see the comments until their six monthly management appraisal. During the six monthly management appraisal, the line manager reviews the supervisors’ reports and provides any other feedback that he thinks is relevant. The manager then has to grade the member of staff as being ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘fair’ or ‘below expectations’. Staff must achieve a grade of ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ to be promoted.

Many members of the audit staff have become demotivated after receiving poor feedback. One employee told her friends ‘I had no idea that I was under performing. My supervisors were always friendly to my face, but seem to have stabbed me in the back!’ Another commented, ‘I should joined the office football team, even though I can’t stand the game. It seems that unless you are one of the boys, you have no chance of being promoted.’

A new HR director has recently been appointed, and is looking at changing the approach to HR at ABC Accounting Co. She has indicated that she wishes to adopt strategic human resource management within the firm. She has also mentioned developing competence frameworks for all grades of professional staff.


(a) Explain the meaning of the term ‘strategic human resource management’ and discuss the benefits of applying it within ABC Accounting Co.

(b) Explain what a competency framework is, and describe how it could be used within ABC Accounting Co.

(c) List three competencies that might be appropriate for a professional accountant working in practice for a company such as ABC Accounting Co.

(d) Evaluate the system of appraisal that is in use for the junior audit staff at ABC Accounting.

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