Overcoming Biases in Performance Reviews

Published on
Feb 27, 2023
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Performance reviews are an important tool in the workplace. They provide employees with feedback on their performance and help managers identify areas where improvements can be made. However, performance reviews can also be affected by biases, which can lead to inaccurate evaluations and unfair treatment of employees. It's important for your team to understand biases that can inadvertently pop up and to recognize ways in which they can be overcome.

Types of Biases in Performance Reviews

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is when a person only looks for evidence that supports their preconceived notions about an employee. For example, if a manager already believes that an employee is not meeting expectations, they may only look for evidence that supports that belief, rather than considering all of the employee's performance. This can lead to a skewed evaluation of the employee's performance.

Halo Effect

The Halo effect is when a person's overall impression of an employee influences their evaluation of specific aspects of their performance. For example, if a manager likes an employee, they may give them a high rating, even if their actual performance is not up to par.

Recency Bias

Recency bias is when a person only takes into account an employee's recent performance, rather than looking at their overall performance over time. This can lead to an unfair evaluation of an employee's performance, as it does not include the employee's past contributions and progress.

Stereotyping Bias

Stereotyping bias is when a person makes assumptions about an employee's abilities based on their gender, race, or other demographic factors. This can lead to an unfair evaluation of an employee's performance, as it is not based on their actual abilities and contributions.

How to Overcome Biases in Performance Reviews

To ensure fair and accurate evaluations, it is important to take steps to minimize the impact of biases in performance reviews. Here are some ways in which both managers and employees can avoid the impact of biases and ensure more accurate and consistent evaluation.

Recognizing and Acknowledging the Existence of Biases

The first step in overcoming biases in performance reviews is recognizing and acknowledging that they exist. By being aware of the potential for biases, managers can take steps to minimize their impact.

Using Objective Criteria

Being objective with performance measurement, such as through the use of specific goals and metrics, can help to minimize the influence of biases. This can provide a clear and unbiased picture of an employee's performance versus expectation or the average of the group.

Seeking Input From Multiple Sources

Getting input from a team, such as other managers and employees or via 360 reviews, can help to provide a more well-rounded view of an employee's performance. This can help to minimize the impact of any one person's biases.

Providing Regular, Ongoing Feedback

Continuous feedback can help to ensure that evaluations are based on an employee's current performance, rather than just their recent performance. Additionally, short-term biases can be minimized if a longer-term view is taken into account.

Training on How to Recognize and Overcome Biases

Training managers and team members on how to recognize biases can help to ensure that evaluations are as fair as they can be. As mentioned earlier, simply recognizing that biases exist, can serve as the basis for starting to learn the proper ways to evaluate.

Remove the Fog of Biases

Performance reviews are like a mirror reflecting the true performance of an employee, but biases can fog up the mirror and create a distorted image. By recognizing biases and providing teams with methods to overcome them, companies can wipe the fog off the mirror, and create a clear and accurate reflection of their employees' performance.

WorkStory Performance Review Process Webinar
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In this 20-minute overview and product demo, Cofounder and CEO, Matt Meadows will show you how you can use WorkStory to streamline your performance review process — in just minutes — while significantly increasing the amount of feedback your team members want/need. You’ll learn why hundreds of teams are using WorkStory to operate their performance management process and how they’re getting tons of time and energy back because of it.
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