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August 26, 2011

Common Errors Managers Make When Appraising Employees

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Performance Management5:03 pm

When done right, the performance appraisal process can be very effective.  Managers and employees both have an opportunity to give and receive valuable feedback.  Reviewing past performance and planning for future growth can engage and motivate your employees.  When done wrong, the process can create a number of problems in an organization.  Here are 3 common errors managers make when appraising employees:

The Halo Effect:
Allowing one highly favorable (or unfavorable) employee behavior or characteristic to affect judgment about the entire appraisal while ignoring other employee strengths and weaknesses.

An employee may have outstanding customer service skills. The manager may have even received compliments or letters from customers telling how professional, helpful and courteous this employee is. However, the manager would not want to let this very positive skill overshadow problems the employee may be having in other areas (e.g., perhaps tardiness is a problem or deadlines are not met). Likewise a manager would not want to let a single employee problem, perhaps a quality or teamwork issue, cloud judgment regarding everything an employee does. Recording critical incidents (discussed earlier) can help appraisers avoid the Halo Effect.

Bias or Prejudice:
We all have our biases. However, allowing personal biases or prejudices to influence the appraisal process can make evaluations unfair and inconsistent. Know your biases.

Be careful to check personal biases or prejudices. Perhaps an appraiser simply does not like an employee’s personality or elements of his/her personality. Some appraisers are biased against certain types of workers (e.g., older workers or students). Be aware of biases to make sure appraisals are clearly job-related. 

It is helpful to take a moment to consider the feedback you are giving your employees.  Ask yourself, “Why is this behavior or performance trait a benefit or detriment to our company?  What core values does this exemplify or counter? How does this positively or negatively impact our department or company as a whole?”  Considering the business reasons behind the feedback you are giving will help to remove personal biases.

Not Knowing Employees:
Unfortunately, many supervisors don’t really know their employees or the quality of their work. Such evaluations aren’t credible.

It is impossible to give honest, direct feedback when you are uninformed.  Make sure enough information and specific examples are available regarding an employee’s performance before an evaluation is completed. Appraisals are more meaningful and more accepted by employees if the appraiser takes the time to interact with the employee on a regular, day-to-day basis.

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