“This year, despite HomeStyle’s move to new office space, we have seen a decline in both company morale and productivity, and a corresponding increase in administrative costs. To rectify these problems, we should begin using a newly developed software package for performance appraisal and feedback. Managers will save time by simply choosing comments from a preexisting list; then the software will automatically generate feedback for the employee. The human resources department at CounterBalance, the manufacturer of the countertops we install, reports satisfaction with the package.”
In this passage, which argues that a performance and feedback software will rectify problems that the company is seeing after a move to a new office space, the author makes several weak assumptions to support the use of the described software package. There are weak points in the causation/ correlation of the problems the company is seeing and performance appraisal and feedback, false association between high administration costs and feedback automation, and wrongful comparisons between dissimilar bodies.
The first implication the author makes is that the software proposed will truly rectify the issues seen with morale, and productivity. While the managers may be saving time in generating performance appraisal and feedback, this does not account for both manager productivity outside of reviews as well as the morale and productivity of the individual contributor. A manager may save time with performance reviews under the automated system, but performance reviews are typically only a small fraction of a managers job. The impact from this system to the overall productivity of the manager is likely to be rather negligible in comparison to other aspects that their role would require, showing that the conclusion of improved productivity from this software alone is largely overstated. Additionally, the morale and productivity of the individual contributor is not considered in the passage at all. Even if the productivity of the management was improved by the proposed software, managers as a percentage of total company staff is likely under 10% (assuming no more than one manager per 10 employees) and will not likely see a great increase in overall company productivity at this level. To strengthen their argument, the author could provide examples of how the automated feedback and appraisal from the software would impact the morale and productivity of other employee types that represent a greater percentage of the company’s population.
Automation of the software does not necessarily equate to lower administrative costs as the author claims. This argument is weak as it does not take into consideration where the administrative costs are coming from; the software package would reduce costs by automating one area of the company’s day-to-day operations, but there would likely be a plethora of administrative costs that were associated with the company’s recent move. This shows that the solution considers the company operations, rather than considering the one-time event that would have likely driven up the administrative costs. The author would best offset this argument by providing information on how much the software would save the company in administrative costs and the amount of time it would take to offset the associated cost of the move.
Finally, the author compares to dissimilar entities to draw a conclusion that their company will also see satisfaction with the software. The fact that the human resources department at their countertop company saw satisfaction with the software does not equate to its success at HomeStyle. HomeStyle and CounterBalance are similar entities in that their titles suggest that they support a similar industry, but different employee make-up, size, and preferences are all factors that can make these two entities different and alter success of the software from one to the other.
The passage has many weak arguments, and several opportunities for improvement to strengthen the conclusion for this passage.