Eliminate managers’ bias in year-end Performance Appraisals

Many of us put our heart and soul into our work, expecting a high rating in our annual appraisal as it leads to several opportunities in the organisation, be they monetary or non-monetary. Expectation soars as we approach the month of December as it’s appraisal time in many organisations while some may implement it in February or March. Establishing fairness in performance management, be it at goal setting, mid-year review, ongoing conversation or year-end appraisal, is always a big challenge for many organisations. The challenges lie in the difference between the policy and paper and the practice in real scenarios.

The year-end appraisal that takes place between the manager and employee on an annual basis can be a tough conversation for both parties. Every employee expects a fair appraisal, taking into account key achievements and justification for non-completion of KPIs etc. In reality, if these two aspects are not fulfilled, it can lead to frustration among employees, followed by retention issues for the organisation.

In order to avoid such a situation, these four points can help managers to avoid bias in year-end appraisals and, to a certain extent, demonstrate fairness to all subordinates. Eliminating such bias helps to establish harmony in the workplace and leads to higher employee retention.

Bias 1

This can appear to be common as it’s human nature to confuse a person with a problem. Managers provide ratings merely based on one specific incident that occurred in the year, which is completely unfair to the employee. A year-end appraisal should cover the overall year’s performance and should not be based on a particular incident or issue. Such an incident can be positive or negative yet it does not reflect the overall annual performance.

Bias 2

Inexperience or a lack of confidence may result in a manager ending up in this situation. In order to ensure they are in the safe zone, they rate the majority of their team members as average, as this at times doesn’t need a concrete justification. As this can be the best bet for an average manager or inexperienced manager, it’s completely unfair if it’s imposed on subordinates.

Bias 3

Managers have the tendency to rate high-grade roles with better ratings, assuming they contribute more to the organisation compared to people in lower grade positions. One of the reasons for this could be the insecurity of the manager to defend their rating with a higher job grade employee in their team. They lack the confidence to justify their appraisal rating to the respective position and they assume a lower job grade position is much easier to be tackled.

Bias 4

In the event where the employee seems to have some similar characteristics to the manager, the manager once again tends to rate them higher, using themselves as a benchmark for the performance rating instead of the agreed KPIs for the year. This serves as a complete bias for the rest in the team despite their contribution to the business and individual goals.

Briefly, managers need to have an awareness of the above-mentioned biases. Such a realisation serves as a remedy to the challenges in performance appraisals. Keeping all these points in mind, managers should emphasis fairness and transparency during the appraisal as it reflects on employee performance. A solid justification is essential in ensuring employees are engaged and motivated and, most importantly, retained by the organisation. Managers have a significant role in ensuring this and creating an impact on the retention plan. It’s crucial they realise this and move forward in empowering employees.

Prakash Santhanam is a highly passionate Blockchain, Meta NLP, BRMP, CIPD, DDI, DiSC, Hogan and Harrison certified Talent Management/HR professional with over 10 years of global experience He has a Master of Information Technology and Corporate Communication and an international track record across various countries in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Read Previous

How to rethink your Rewards Strategy for gig workers 

Read Next

Marshall Goldsmith at the Australian HR Summit

Select your currency
ZAR South African rand