Biases in Performance Appraisals - Part 2

Biases in Performance Appraisals- Part2

Horn effect bias in performance reviews

In the world of organizational life, performance appraisal if not done carefully and diligently can cause anger and resentment for both parties involved in the discussion. And one of the most difficult aspects in the performance appraisal process has to do with biases.

This article is the second part of a 2 part series which talks about a few common biases in performance appraisals. For the first article in this series which talks about some cognitive biases in performance appraisals please go to the link below:
Biases in Performance Appraisals – Part 1 (Recency and Primacy effect)

Here are some more biases which can influence employee performance appraisals in incredibly negative ways:

1. Halo Effect

The Halo effect bias is roughly defined as when a manager forms a generalized positive impression of an employee on the basis of one or two things, qualities or features. The manager would then rate the employee high on unrelated areas even where the employee’s performance was mediocre. This apart from inflating an employee’s rating also keeps the employees from knowing about their faults in other areas, which keeps them from growing, as well as diminishing their value to the company.

2. Horn Effect

This is the opposite of Halo effect. It is also known as the Devil effect bias. Here the individual’s performance is completely appraised on the basis of a perceived negative quality or feature. This results in overall artificially low ratings of an employee.
For example, an employe may be good at marketing but his/her manager dislikes something as simple as personal style about them. And so, the manager rates the employee poorly on ALL areas including marketing, even if the person is good at marketing.

3. Stereotyping/ Personal biases

This refers to classifying people into our own predefined categories. This bias can come from the manager’s attitudes and opinions about race, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, hair color, weight, height, intelligence, etc. This bias goes both ways – people the manager personally likes will benefit and people he personally dislikes will be punished. This is one of the most detrimental forms of review bias.

These and other biases can cause your entire performance appraisal process to lose credibility among your employees. Managers should be educated about these common evaluation biases, so they can try to eliminate them. Also, instead of simply using manager’s subjective judgement, we should move towards more objective and quantifiable indicators and targets. We believe that when parameters are easily understood, measured and quantified, it can greatly reduce subjectivity, and possibly, bias in the appraisal process.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and other tips on avoiding biases in performance reviews… share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Vijay is the Co-founder at HappyOffice and has a vision of shaping a world where everyone is truly happy at their work.


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