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September 30, 2011

More Common Mistakes Managers Make When Appraising Employees

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Performance Management6:26 pm

Last month, I shared 3 common errors managers make when appraising employees.  You may find it “surprising” to discover there are actually 15.  Here are another 3, including the most widespread– Lenient or Inflated Appraisals.

Overemphasis on Isolated Events
A particularly recent or significant event may skew overall judgment of an employee. Take informal notes about employees (both good and bad things) throughout the year to ensure your evaluation is based on the entire appraisal period – not just what happened last week.

This is similar to the Halo effect, but instead of basing an appraisal on a single characteristic or behavior, this is based on one or several events that stick in an appraiser’s mind. These events may have happened right before the appraisal or possibly really upset the appraiser at some time during the year. Perhaps the appraiser had one particularly ugly confrontation during the year or received a complaint about the employee from upper management or a key client. That may impact the appraisal more than it should. The appraisal should be based on what happened during the entire appraisal period.

Lenient or Inflated Appraisals
It’s difficult for most managers to give employees poor ratings. However, not doing it simply avoids the problem and doesn’t give the employee the opportunity to correct it. It’s also awfully difficult to later discipline or terminate an employee whose appraisals have always been good. It opens up risks of discrimination charges.

Appraisers are lenient or inflate scores for a number of different reasons.  Regardless, this mistake has the potential to create large problems for your organization. It is important to educate appraisers about the potential problems that can result from this practice.  Identify the reasons your managers are falling into this trap and take the necessary steps to eliminate the problem.

Appraisal of Potential Worth
When managing a new or inexperienced employee make sure you rate her on actual job performance, not on what she might become. Evaluate the employee based on current results and action. You can use comments to address her potential

Don’t be too generous on an appraisal because you believe that an employee has incredible managerial potential or could be outstanding “some day.” Rate an employee on what he/she can do today. In the comments, a manager can always add that the employee is doing very well given his/her experience.


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