Performance appraisal, performance management and bias

While doing an evaluation appraisals for considering job promotions, Certain metrics are used which are generally considered as fair medium. But under certain conditions the entire mechanism seems to be a farce and therefore becomes tediously difficult for someone deserving to be preferred over the lot which was rated above because of sycophancy, cognitive bias and lack of procedural techniques.

Let’s discuss.

No matter how bigger the Organization is , one of the most difficult aspect for evaluating someone fairly is an uphill task. Corrupt practices, Halo effect, prejudices , wrong analytical data, Fudged statistics and wrong evaluation due to lack of analytical skill are the greatest inhibitors and challenges for any organization to meet with.

The terms ‘performance management’ and ‘performance appraisal’ are sometimes used synonymously, but they are different. Performance management is a comprehensive, continuous and flexible approach to the management of organizations, teams and individuals which involves the maximum amount of dialogue between those concerned.   
Performance management is a corporate management tool that helps managers monitor and thereby evaluates employees’ work. Performance management’s goal is to create an environment where people can perform to the best of their abilities to produce the highest-quality work most efficiently and effectively.

Performance management can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, an employee, or the processes in place to manage particular tasks. Performance management standards are generally organized and disseminated by senior leadership at an organization and by task owners, it can include specifying tasks and outcomes of a job, providing timely feedback and coaching, comparing employee’s actual performance and behaviors with desired performance and behaviors, instituting rewards, etc.

Evaluation appraisal is a more limited approach which involves managers making top-down assessments and rating the performance of their subordinates at an annual performance appraisal meeting.

Why is performance Management Used?

The Pivotal role of Performance Management is to to link the individual goal with the Organizational goal in order to achieve a win win outcome for the mutual growth. It is a ritual to understand the needs of each other so that they are aligned statically, logically to serve the purpose of each other for a long and healthy relationship.

In other words, performance management is the process of managing an organization’s management strategy. This is how plans are converted into desired outcomes in organizations. The intent behind the performance Management is to improve the performance at an individual level.

The advantages of performance management draws out to enhance broad cross-functional involvement in decision-making, and calculated risk-taking by providing greater visibility with accurate and relevant information, to execute an organization’s strategy.

The intent behind the Performance Management is to to develop people by letting them know about their performance and the way, the performance was evaluated to keep them motivating, improving for greater heights. The Performance allows individuals to know what is expected of them by the Organization so that they meet the expectations and to provide honest and accurate formal evaluations.

The trouble is, when the context and criteria for making evaluations are ambiguous, bias is more prevalent. As many studies have shown, without structure, people are more likely to rely on gender, race, and other stereotypes when making decisions – instead of thoughtfully constructing assessments using agreed-upon processes and criteria that are consistently applied across all employees.

Types of bias in Evaluation appraisal

Following are the common Bias associated with the Evaluation Appraisals.

  1. Assimilation bias and contrast effect: The assimilation effect or assimilation effect is bias in evaluating evaluative judgments towards the position of a context stimulus, while contrast effects describe a negative correlation between a judgment and contextual information.

The Contrast effect 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 Effect : The “halo effect” is a tendency in performance appraisals to assess an employee as outstanding because of one very impressive trait or accomplishment on the assumption that her other accomplishments were equally impressive.

For instance, you were so impressed with the speed at which Priya works that you ignore her rudeness to customers or failure to call back customers with the information they request. She might show a tendency to disrespect the coworkers but the management ignores or fail to judge it appropriately.

3. Horn Effect: The horn effect, closely related to the halo effect, is a form of cognitive bias that causes one’s perception of another to be unduly influenced by a single negative trait. An example of the horn effect may be that an observer is more likely to assume a physically unattractive person is morally inferior to an attractive person, despite the lack of relationship between morality and physical appearance.

One more valid example of Horn effect is that 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  Effect : 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  effect : 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. 


Enjoyed this blog? Please spread the word and share :)