Performance appraisals and reviews are a necessary and important part of work and, for better or worse, are a reality in most organizations. However, traditional performance appraisals fail miserably in evaluating employee behavior.
Managers easily fall into one or more of the many evaluation traps. Here’s a comprehensive listing of the most common mistakes that managers make when evaluating employee performance.
Reviewing another person’s performance from an autobiographical perspective. This occurs when we compare an individual’s performance to how we performed in the same situation, rather than using the established standards or criteria. We tend to accept unsatisfactory performance or make excuses for inappropriate behavior.
This trap occurs when a manager ignores the bad things an employee is doing because he or she is good in other areas.
Creating artificial barriers or obstacles. This occurs when we give special treatment to an individual or a group, thereby arbitrarily changing the standards or process. We tend to give individuals “breaks” that others did not receive, or we tend to ignore or minimize their mistakes.
It’s natural for managers to most remember what employees have done most recently. An employee can be performing poorly all year, but two weeks before the performance evaluation is initiated, his performance becomes outstanding.
As hard as we try, it’s hard not to believe in stereotypes or preconceived notions of how someone believes or will act. You might, for example, be certain that women make better customer service representatives than do men. This stereotyping works to give female employees higher ratings, and men lower ratings.
It’s hard not to compare the performance of two or more employees who you are rating at the same time. Your high performing employees will naturally make your lower performing employees look bad in comparison. In the same manner, mediocre performers are going to look good when stacked up against poor performers.
This occurs when you fall into the trap of rating highly those employees who are most like you (same likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, and so forth) and rating lowly those employees who are least like you.
Many managers absolutely dread conducting performance evaluations because it forces them to acknowledge the failings of their employees and then talk to their employees about those failings. Most managers would much rather give their employees good news rather than bad, but sometimes bad news is all you’ve got.
But every manager must be prepared to give both if employees are to improve in their jobs and become more effective.
Adapted from The Management Bible, Bob Nelson & Peter Economy, Wiley