9 Common Errors in Performance Appraisals in monoTalent


Scoring Errors

Scoring is inaccurate when the manager rates too many performance objectives on one part of the rating scale -- high, middle or low -- without basing the ratings on concrete data or knowledge. If a manager rates the employee in the middle of the scoring scale -- meets expectations -- on 90 percent or more of the objectives, the scoring is probably inaccurate, according to information from Western Washington University's performance manual. If more than 20 percent of your ratings are at the high end of the scale, you may be rating too easily. If more than 20 percent are located at the low end, you may be rating too harshly. Managers can avoid inaccurate scoring trends by basing ratings on their knowledge of an employee's actual performance gathered through recorded data or personal observations.


Focusing only on recent performance within the evaluation period is a common error in performance evaluations. For example, a manager should not consider only an employee's performance within the last three months during an annual evaluation. The entire period of employee performance must be evaluated or the evaluation risks inaccuracy.

Similarity Errors

Managers sometimes rate employees more favorably if the employees consistently perform job functions in the same style or by using the same process as they do. Instead, managers should focus on the outcome -- whether the employee was able to achieve the desired results in an acceptable way.

Contrast Errors

If a manager focuses on a stereotype -- due to race, religion, age or sexual orientation -- when rating, a contrast error results. Each employee's performance, not his background, characteristics or lifestyle, should be rated. Also, a contrast error can result when two employees with similar performances are compared. The error occurs when the manager rates one employee lower than the other because the manager likes the other employee better. Giving ratings based on an employee's traits or likability, rather than her performance, qualifies as job discrimination, which can lead to legal claims and other complications.
Annual vs. Ongoing Reviews

Many managers conduct annual reviews instead of investing the time in ongoing reviews. Annual reviews must cover 12 months of performance, while ongoing reviews focus on smaller blocks of time. A manager conducting an annual review can fail to address problematic issues that occurred 10 months prior to the review, which doesn't help the employee understand how to improve his performance in those areas. With ongoing reviews, managers can discuss performance goals and offer feedback in a timely manner to help improve the employee's performance on the fly.

Insufficient Listening

Not listening is a characteristic of poor interviewing skills -- one of the 10 most common errors of performance appraisals -- according to information on the Belmont University website. Not only is the manager's job to deliver feedback to an employee regarding performance, she should also listen. Employees have the right to respond to the information presented to them during a performance evaluation. They may have questions or concerns about the feedback you provide. After listening to an employee's response, you may find he was justified in his actions. You also may decide to alter the results of the evaluation. If you dominate the evaluations and don't stop and listen to what your employees have to say, the employee may feel undervalued and misunderstood.

Negative Approach

Sometimes managers begin a performance evaluation with a negative slant. Perhaps the employee has failed to apply managerial feedback. Or maybe her performance hasn't been as good as it was in the past. Even though you should address negative issues, don't start the review with them. Acting negative from the start can put the employee on the defensive.

Positive Generalizations

An employee who is always willing to volunteer for extra work and undesirable tasks may make your life easier. However, he may not perform well in some areas of his job. Managers who focus on the fact that an employee exceeds expectations in one single area can overgeneralize the true performance of the employee. This happens when a manager rates other areas of an employee's performance highly based on one thing the employee does well.

Negative Generalizations

Perhaps an employee ignores your advice and completes tasks her own way -- often with poor results. An employee's unprofessional behavior in one area can negatively influence unrelated areas during a performance evaluation. The key to success is to evaluate areas of performance separately.


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