With the end of the year promptly approaching, it is time to yet again brush up on the annual performance appraisal. As the world is getting smaller and the workplace more diverse each day, one of the most challenging aspects of the review has to do with biases. While many organizations address this issue in the hiring process, it still remains widely overlooked in the performance appraisal process. Naturally, reducing the problem of bias must begin before the actual review with an evaluation of the overall performance management system and measurement methodologies. It is also essential for managers to undergo appropriate sensitivity and diversity trainings that will help them recognize their own unconscious biases and learn how to manage them effectively.
Here are five common types of bias that can show up during the performance appraisal process, as listed by the HR Bartender in the article ‘Overcoming 5 Common Performance Appraisal Biases’
1. Contrast – This occurs when the manager compares an employee’s performance to other employees instead of the company standard. When employees are ranked in comparison, someone must end up at the bottom, even if they are exceeding the company standard. The problem isn’t the employee – it’s the goal or standard that has been set.
2. Halo – An employee is rated highly in all areas because of one thing they do really well. I’ve seen this happen with sales people. She hits the numbers and senior leadership loves it. But behind the scenes, she creates havoc and doesn’t have the respect of her co-workers.
3. Horn – On the flip side, an employee is rated as a poor performer because of one thing they don’t do well. For example, the administrative assistant who is great at everything but filing. It piles up because he puts it off – resulting in the company hiring a temp to get the filing caught up. In all other areas, he’s a rock star.
4. Leniency – A manager gives everyone on their team a satisfactory rating. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this occur a lot when a manager has a large span of control coupled with a common review date. The manager has dozens of reviews to work on and a heart full of good intentions. But somewhere around review number 17, the manager gets burned out and starts giving everyone a satisfactory response. Because it doesn’t require any written supporting statements.
5. Recency – The employee’s most recent behavior becomes the primary focus of the review. This can go both ways. A poor performer does something terrific and their past performance is forgotten. Or an excellent performer makes a mistake and it weighs down the rest of the review.