Constructive feedback at the right time is the backbone of performance improvement. Are you doing it right? Read this article to find out
When it comes to performance management for employees, you would agree that feedback plays an important role. However, only offering positive feedback and appreciating the performance of your employees is not enough. You need to give them an equal amount of constructive feedback which is specific to ensure high levels of performance. If you feel that your employees may not embrace constructive feedback, think again.
Research shows that 92% of people believe that constructive feedback is effective at improving performance.
In this article we will help you understand how you can give constructive feedback and examples you can leverage.
Constructive feedback is essentially a tool that most forward looking professionals leverage to help others in their team with specific and constructive inputs on areas where one’s performance can be improved. Put simply, if you have an employee who doesn’t pay attention to detail, constructive feedback involves helping them acknowledge that this is a problem area, and more than that, enabling them with the support to overcome the same. It involves not only identifying a performance problem, but also, providing action items and ways to address the same.
Now that you have an understanding of what constructive feedback means, let’s quickly look at some of the top reasons why constructive feedback is important. Constructive feedback:
When delivering feedback, you must understand the difference between positive and constructive feedback and ensure that you use both of them where they fit the best. Here a quick distinction between positive feedback vs constructive feedback:
In a nutshell, positive feedback is a reinforcement tool, whereas constructive feedback is a mechanism to facilitate development.
With an understanding of the fundamentals of constructive feedback, let’s quickly jump to the best practices which can help you deliver constructive feedback in a nuanced and effective manner.
The first thing you need to focus on is ensuring that the timing of the constructive feedback is ideal. For instance, a busy period when the employee is putting in a lot of effort may not be ideal for giving them feedback about their performance from three months ago. At the same time, ensure that you provide constructive feedback regularly and consistently, to avoid recency or primacy bias. However, don’t offer feedback when you are angry about their performance either.
Before you get down to giving the feedback, set the tone. Share with the employee the purpose of the meeting and make them comfortable prior to sharing your reflections. It is important that you build trust so your employees can share their perspective and don’t feel intimidated by what you have to say.
Once the context and tone is set, start sharing your reflections. Your focus should be on sharing what you have observed about their performance. However, ensure that you also share how the same is likely to impact their career growth as well as organizational success. For instance, if you are providing constructive feedback about missing deadlines, you can use the impact of losing clients for the organization and a casual attitude marker for the employee.
When sharing reflections, use specific examples of when you noticed a particular behavior. For instance, in the above example, you can share instances of when the employee missed his/her deadlines. Ensure that you use examples which illustrate a pattern, rather than a one off incident, which is very uncommon. Furthermore, always use concrete examples and not interpretation of what you hear or see.
With constructive feedback, your focus should be on helping the employee improve their performance and work on their areas of development.
However, simply pointing out their weaknesses or negatives in their performance will not help. You need to also talk about some of the positive aspects of their performance and how those qualities can help them absorb and implement their constructive feedback.
Emotional intelligence is extremely important when delivering constructive feedback. You cannot be apathetic towards your employee when delivering the same. Put yourself in their shoes to choose your phrases carefully. We will share some examples in the next section. Also, use your EQ to read the situation when you are delivering the feedback. If you see that the employee is getting uncomfortable, take a pause and comfort them first. Read their gestures and body language to ensure that the employee is not feeling attacked.
Like it or not, constructive feedback involves pointing out one’s weaknesses and areas of improvement. However, you should refrain from equating the performance of the employee with his/her personality or whole self. For instance, if someone misses deadlines, encourage them to be more organized or prioritize important work, than labeling them as a procrastinator.
While you are delivering the constructive feedback, you have to make sure it is a dialogue.
The idea is to give the other person enough room to share their side of the story.
Try to understand whether or not they agree with your feedback and how they perceive the same. They may share the lack of support or resources, which have resulted in a weak performance. Be open to some reverse feedback as well. Again, your EQ must be at play here. If your employee has an outburst, or reacts negatively, you need to stay composed and calm them down.
Once you and your employee are aligned on the areas of improvement, the most important part of constructive feedback is to provide adequate solutions to address the performance challenges. Don’t give abstract or vague solutions like be punctual if the employee misses deadlines. Rather, give very specific and action oriented solutions which are directed towards a particular outcome. The idea is to collectively understand the cause of the weak area of performance and use concrete solutions to remedy the same.
Now that you have shared some potential solutions, you must revise the top action items with your employee to avoid any confusion. At the same time, you should focus on creating a time bound plan with key milestones to ensure that development is taking place. Summarize what was discussed and how you will proceed from there. Best is to set up a date to review the progress to ensure constructive feedback is paid heed to.
Read our article on Start Stop Continue Feedback to give action oriented feedback
Here are top 20 constructive feedback examples that you can use during your next conversation. To make your constructive feedback more effective, we have also illustrated examples of what you should steer away from.
I would really like to know how you have progressed on the tasks assigned to you last month. It would be ideal if you could share a progress update on what has been achieved with a small summary of challenges/ support needed at the end of every week to ensure everyone is on the same page.
You have not kept your team updated about your work, this is highly unprofessional.
I was going through the work you submitted last week and I can see you have put in a lot of effort. However, I could see that there were some small errors and inaccuracies in the report across multiple sections. I believe that if you proofread your work thoroughly before turning it in, it will reduce the number of iterations and improve your quality of work.
You seem completely distracted as you have been submitting flawed and below average work, this will not be tolerated.
I understand that you are working on multiple projects, however, you need to ensure that the most important projects are not overlooked and their timelines are not missed. Therefore, I would suggest you create a list of tasks you are working on and check with the respective reporting managers on the priority and set clear expectations to ensure that no deadlines are missed.
You have missed your deadline again, it seems like you are not serious about you work.
I see that you have been able to achieve only a part of the goals that you set out for this year. Maybe you were trying to spread yourself too thin. I would suggest you reduce the number of projects you are working on and ensure that the goals you set you are able to achieve. Furthermore, you must be vocal about the support or resources you need to achieve your goals.
Are you even serious about your work, your level of goal achievement indicates otherwise.
I see that you have been taking some time off lately, without any prior intimation. Let’s try to understand if there is a particular reason for the same. We can work on your schedule to make it more flexible.
You have been missing all meetings lately, this tardiness is not appreciated.
I see that you are excellent at execution of ideas. However, I believe that you need to focus more on coming up with solutions on your own. I would suggest participating more in the brainstorming sessions and coming up with solutions. Try to think on your own, before you reach out to others with the problem.
You lack any problem solving capabilities, and will be stuck to execution for the rest of your career.
Constructive feedback is integral to organizational success. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
50 top 360 degree feedback question examples
‘Onboarding: How to get your new employees up to speed in half the time’ - George Bradt, founder and Chairman PrimeGenesis
Did you know that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%?
However, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job at onboarding new employees.
This clearly states that while employee onboarding has a direct impact on the bottom line, most organizations miss out on how to get it right.
Don’t let that happen to you. To onboard new employees like a pro, keep reading.
By definition, an onboarding survey is a questionnaire that is administered on new hires to gauge their initial experience and level of satisfaction, in an attempt to understand their engagement and retention potential.
As an HR, you can get multiple insights from an onboarding survey, including:
It can help you estimate how long the employees are likely to stay and how you can further optimize your onboarding process to make it more aligned with employee expectations.
An effective onboarding survey can help you reflect on your performance through the onboarding process, which directly impacts KPIs for organizational success, including:
93% of employers believe a good onboarding experience is critical in influencing a new employee’s decision whether to stay with the company. At the same time, 25% of a company’s new hires would leave within a year if the onboarding experience was poor.
20% of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member and an onboarding survey can help you identify the reasons for the same. However, new team members who were asked to provide feedback prior to their start date also had a 79% increase in willingness to refer others. Thus, illustrating how onboarding surveys and feedback can impact eNPS.
Read: How to use eNPS for better employee engagement
Employees with exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and 70% say they have ‘the best possible job’.
77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process were able to meet their first performance goals. However, 49% of individuals who failed to reach their first performance milestone had no official onboarding instruction. An onboarding survey can help you determine the effectiveness of your onboarding process.
In addition, your new employees might also have an inclination towards providing feedback as a part of the onboarding survey, which you will lose out if you don’t conduct the same. Research shows that only 26% of new employees recall being asked for feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date wherein 91% of new hires are willing to provide this feedback.
Now that you understand the importance of an employee onboarding survey, let’s quickly discuss how to effectively run an onboarding survey.
You must coincide your employee onboarding survey with important milestones for the new employee in the organization. Mostly, these milestones coincide with the end of the first few months. Thus, you should circulate your onboarding survey after 30, 60 and 90 days respectively, with different objectives for each. Furthermore, you can send interim surveys in case you feel the need, for instance, when the employee starts a project, or when the orientation process is over.
“Effective employee onboarding isn’t about swag, stickers, & company value pamphlets on their desk the 1st day. But, how you help them understand their goals & how co values are interwoven in operating are more important.”- Suhail Doshi, founder and chairman of Mixpanel, Inc.
Based on the milestones or cadence you have set up, it is important to identify areas you would want to cover with each milestone. For instance:
In the first 30 days, you should focus on themes like:
In 60 days, you can touch on themes like:
By the end of 90 days, focus should shift towards:
Once you have decided the themes, you can start building questions, a snapshot of which is covered in the next section or you can download the template now here. The themes can be fluid across milestones, depending on the context for your organization.
Once the milestone arrives, you should roll out the onboarding survey and drive participation. It is important to explain to your new employees why the onboarding survey is important and how they can fill it up. Give them the requisite time, deadlines and communicate what will be the next steps to encourage them to participate.
Simply rolling out the survey is not enough. You must reach out to your new employees to remind them to fill the onboarding survey as amidst numerous new things, they might lose track of it. Don’t push too hard, yet send subtle reminders to get genuine responses. For instance: employee survey tools such as SuperBeings integrate with chat tools like Slack, Teams, Gchat to send personalized nudges to fill out the survey in the flow of work at set intervals as well as allows them to participate directly without switching context.
Unlock a wide array of survey questions and employee analytics. See how SuperBeings can help
Once your onboarding survey responses are in, slice and dice them to get insights into what your employees feel and leverage the data points to further refine your onboarding process to facilitate engagement, retention and advocacy from the beginning.
Taking cue from the section above, here are 50+ onboarding survey questions that you can leverage to gauge the pulse of your new employees as they complete different milestones.
You can also download these questions as a template and use it whenever you need. Click here to download
By now, it would be very clear to you that an employee onboarding survey can help you in multiple ways to create a high performance culture. It can enable you to augment retention, engagement, satisfaction and advocacy among employees to ensure that there is minimal turnover and you are able to attract high quality talent. Ensure that you roll out an onboarding survey at 30/60/90 days frequency to check onboarding experience, knowledge transfer, manager support, role clarity, etc.
You should focus on other forms of employee feedback on culture, training and development opportunities, level of engagement, manager effectiveness, workplace collaboration, work-life balance, among others.
Finally, you should focus on leveraging technology and automation to add efficiency and effectiveness to your onboarding survey and process.
Research shows, automating onboarding tasks resulted in a 16% increase in retention rates for new hires.
Thus, consider partnering with a survey platform which enables you to:
How to use employee engagement survey comments
While performance management has been a key priority for organizations, for a long time, year end reviews were considered to be the most effective way to facilitate the same. However, recently organizations are observing a shift towards continuous performance management with an introduction of the performance management cycle. This article will focus on different aspects of the performance management cycle and how it enables unlocking the potential of high performance teams.
Before going into the diverse aspects, you should first understand what a performance management cycle essentially is. If you have an idea of what continuous performance management is, you’re already a step ahead in the understanding. Performance management cycle primarily is a way or a model in which you evaluate or focus on the performance of your employees throughout the year. The idea is to break down the different elements of employee performance into different stages and focus on them consistently. It starts with setting goals and ends with rewards for a job well done, which leads to setting of new goals and the performance management cycle resets.
While you may want to divide your performance management cycle into any number of stages, mostly there are four stages.
The first stage, at the very beginning of the performance management cycle, focuses on creating a plan for the performance ahead. The idea is to have a clear understanding on what your employee must achieve and how you will eventually review and evaluate them. During the planning stage, you and your team member, collectively should:
Thus, the planning stage of the performance management cycle sets the tone for the year ahead and ensures there is clarity at all levels.
Once the goals have been set in the planning stage, you enter the monitoring stage of the performance management cycle. This stage essentially focuses on ensuring that things are moving as planned. The idea is to ascertain that your team members are more or less on track for specific milestones outlined as a part of goal setting. Additionally, this stage will help you address any performance challenges that you may observe, sooner than later. Monitoring stage includes:
The monitoring stage essentially focuses on tracking the performance of your employees against the set goals to provide constructive feedback and help them perform better.
The third stage of the performance management cycle comes into existence towards the end. It involves reviewing the performance and providing ratings based on the established KPIs and metrics. While this is the formal review process, if you have been constantly monitoring the performance of your employees, this will essentially be a consolidation of all the reviews and feedback shared overtime. While delivering performance reviews, ensure that you:
Since you have been connecting regularly with your employees, the reviews will not come as a surprise to them, but will help you monitor the trends of their performance and guide the next stage for the employee’s professional growth.
Finally, the rewarding stage in the performance management cycle acts as a culmination to one cycle and sets stage for the commencement of the next. The objective is to take into account their performance over the performance management cycle and create a culture of rewards and recognition to celebrate and appreciate high performance. Some of the quick ways to reward your employees include, giving them:
This stage is important to make your employees feel valued and motivate them to keep the performance going. It will also push average performers to step up their efforts and enable you to create a high performance culture.
Now that you understand the various stages of a performance management cycle, let’s quickly look at why the performance management cycle is important for your organization. It will help you:
In addition to the above mentioned benefits, a performance management cycle can help you build a high performance culture in a number of ways. Some of the top aspects include:
What constitutes high performance can be abstract. For some, closing 5 deals can be high performance, for others, it might be closing 15. Planning stage in the performance management lifecycle will help your employees understand what constitutes high performance and thus, proceed towards it.
A key part of the performance management cycle is the rewards and recognition. When employees feel their performance is being valued and recognized, they tend to double up their efforts, leading to a high performance team.
Monitoring and tracking followed by 1-o-1 conversations can help you communicate with your employees regularly. Not only will you track their performance, but will also listen to their concerns or challenges and offer them feedback. Such conversations and feedback have a positive impact on performance, leading to a high performance culture.
One of the foundations of high performance is enabling your team members to undergo the right training. Performance management cycle can help you understand which training is important for your employees at which performance stage, realizing high quality results.
As a manager, there are several ways in which you can unlock the true potential of a performance management cycle. You are one of the key stakeholders who plays an important role in every stage of the cycle. Here are a few tips that can help you augment the effectiveness of the performance management cycle:
A performance management tool can significantly help you streamline your performance management cycle by offering the following benefits.
Get automated performance snapshots of your employee’s performance over the 9 box grid to track performance trends over time and provide reviews without recency bias.
Leverage guided templates with AI based suggestions for your 1:1 conversations with employees during the monitoring stage based on performance over time. Receive suggested talking points for goal-centered conversations.
Look at historic feedback to see improvement in performance and compare performance over time. You can also compare performance of peers over specific parameters.
How to create a high performance culture using OKRs
7 steps to effective performance management system
Biases are common to all humans. If you look back at your day, you’ll realize that most of the decisions you made were based on some belief, prejudice or bias. While being biased is inherently human, its manifestation in some situations can lead to results which are far from ideal. And, that’s a topic we are discussing with this article, Performance Review Biases.
Essentially, performance review biases and preconceptions, notions or beliefs that you may hold, which may consciously or unconsciously impact your judgment when you are evaluating the performance of your team members. Performance review biases, even if unconscious, can lead to serious implications for your team member whose performance is being evaluated. For instance, if you have a certain bias against someone, you might give them a poor rating, unconsciously, which might impact their promotion, increment and career trajectory. Thus, as a leader, it is very important for you to check if you have any performance review biases and introduce preventive strategies, wherever needed.
Let’s quickly look at the top 12 most common performance review biases that are observed in growing organizations, how they look like and how you can prevent them for your company.
The Halo effect, like the term suggests, is when you put a halo over a person which is reflected in every perception you have about them. From a performance review bias perspective, it translates to a situation, where if a person has performed well in one aspect, you will have a bias that all other aspects of their performance are equally good which may not be the case. This suggests that their one good trait tends to overshadow all others.
If an employee has shown attention to detail to a particular project, which resulted in positive outcomes for the organization, a manager may consider attention to detail as their primary trait and all other parameters of performance review will be negated. Chances are that even if the person is not punctual, misses deadlines, etc., the manager will still give them a higher rating, because their one trait that impressed the manager will overshadow the other performance incompetencies.
To prevent the Halo effect, it is important for managers to evaluate the performance of their team members on multiple parameters and score them on each individually. In addition to the positive trait, you must objectively evaluate other factors which ultimately contribute to organizational success and assess the employee on a holistic level. This will ensure that one quality does not overshadow others, which equally determine the level of performance.
A counterpart of the Halo effect is the Horns effect. Here, one negative trait or performance parameter tends to bring down the overall performance review for an employee. If you have had a poor experience with an employee on a particular aspect, you may believe that they are overall a poor performer, which may reflect in your rating, despite them performing well on other aspects.
If an employee missed a particular deadline due to some personal reason, a manager might build a perception that they are not serious about their work. The delay in delivery of work then becomes the only important trait and other positives are ignored or overlooked.
Like the Halo effect, the best way to prevent the Horns effect is by taking into account multiple performance parameters and to get a clear understanding of the reason behind rating for each individual parameter. This will encourage you or any manager to rationally review a performance rather than being susceptible to performance review biases.
Leniency bias in performance review biases refers to a situation where you are more lenient in your rating, giving employees a higher rating than what their performance truly would yield. Leniency bias generally leads to overestimating the performance of some, resulting in the inability to differentiate average performance from top performers. Invariably, you may end up promoting some who still have room for improvement, while leaving others dissatisfied who truly deserve recognition and incentives.
Mr X and Mr Y are at a similar level and perform the same role of running ads to drive online traffic. During the performance term, Mr X managed a traffic of 6000+ leads while Mr Y brought in only 1000+. Leniency effect kicks in when the manager rates both of them at a similar level, despite the difference in their outputs. Naturally, both of them will have similar increments and career paths, despite unequal efforts and results. This might lead to dissatisfaction, lower levels of engagement, and ultimately attrition.
To differentiate between above average and top performance and to prevent falling prey to leniency bias, it is ideal to have a rating scale which increases the number of rating options after average. Instead of simply saying if a performer was average or above average, add options like excellent, high potential, high performer etc, after above average.
Centrality bias occurs if you rate your employee’s performance just in the middle of the spectrum. This generally occurs when you find it difficult to make a decision and go with a safe option. However, like leniency bias, this is also one of the performance review biases which makes it difficult to differentiate between low and top performers.
Centrality bias is evident if for a particular manager most employees have received the middle rating or the average review. In the case of a 7 point rating scale 4 is the most common rating received by many.
One of the easiest ways to prevent this performance review bias is to eliminate the middle option from your rating scale. For instance, if you follow a 5 point rating scale, you should move to a 4 point scale and eliminate the middle option of average. This will push your managers to give a below or above average rating, and help differentiate between different performance levels.
Generally, performance reviews occur at the end of the year, and recency bias comes in if you take into account only the most recent performance of the employee as opposed to reviewing their performance through the year. Chances are if the performer delivered poorly in the end, their entire rating will be dependent on this performance if this bias is at play. This generally occurs because it is easiest to remember the things that happen most recently. However, they reduce the employees to a few weeks and overlook their contribution across the year.
If Ms Y brought in 3 new customers at the start of the year, resulting in 50 Lacs of business, however, she was unable to convert any clients in the last quarter. With recency bias, the manager will rate her performance below average or poorly, because of the most recent performance, despite having a worthwhile performance across the year. The manager will end up overlooking her performance in the initial months.
Preventing recency bias requires adopting a continuous performance review framework. Here, you can focus on capturing performance feedback at regular intervals, when an employee achieves a milestone, completes a project, etc. All the feedback can then be consolidated to create an annual performance report based on which the final rating should be allocated. This will help you get sufficient data points to get a holistic performance view.
First impressions last. That’s the best way to define the primacy bias. It stands on the flip side of recency bias. Here, the first or the first few instances of one’s performance tend to influence the final performance review. Whether the performance has been good or bad in the beginning is what defines the final appraisal call.
When Mr O joined work, he was a little under confident in a new territory and could only close 1 deal in the first two months. However, as he learnt more about the product, his performance improved and by the end of the year, he closed 5 deals in just 2 weeks. However, in the event of primacy bias, his performance review will evaluate his performance as poor because he was unable to make a lasting first impression.
Preventing primacy bias follows the same principles as recency effect. The idea is to make performance feedback a regular practice where it is taken at pre decided intervals and sometimes after completing some important milestones. This will help managers to get a snapshot of performance over the year with clear points to avoid being fixated on one or two incidents from the very beginning.
As the name suggests, this is one of those performance review biases in which you may unconsciously give a higher rating to an employee who shares similar beliefs, skills, perceptions, etc. The rationale is quite simple, we tend to like people who are like us and often believe that the skills we possess are most desirable. However, this often leads to the creation of a homogeneous culture where diversity and inclusion don’t exist, leading to poor innovation and creativity.
A manager Mr T has three employees reporting directly to him. Mr T is very process driven and appreciates the same quality to drive outcomes. While one of those employees, Ms S is also process driven, the others are not and all three have similar outcomes. With similar-to-me bias, Mr T is likely to give Ms S a higher rating because she works in the same way as him, despite equally good performance from the other two.
As a performance review bias, the similar-to-me bias can be prevented by making assessments more objective and evidence backed. Encourage your managers to bifurcate performance reviews based on different parameters along with a reasoning behind each parameter.
Contrast bias occurs when a manager is evaluating performance for more than one employee and the performance of one becomes the benchmark for evaluating the performance of others instead of the company standard. At times, despite performing extremely well, an employee might just get an average rating because of the goal or the standard being used, leading to low engagement and satisfaction.
If the sales target for a team is getting 5 new clients individually over a period of 6 months and one employee gets 10 new clients and others get 7, 8 and 9. Contrast bias occurs when the manager gives an average rating to the employee who brought in 7 clients because it is lower when compared to the performance of the employee who brought in 10. Despite performing better than the company standard and goal, the performance of this employee is not considered up to the mark, because of contrast bias.
To prevent this performance review bias, it is important that managers set clear performance expectations at the beginning of the performance period and evaluation is done strictly according to those parameters. It is even a good idea to define performance evaluation based on different levels of achievement and managers must be encouraged and trained to review each performance in silos, rather than comparing one with another.
You display attribution bias during a performance review when you attribute the reason behind a performance based on your beliefs and perceptions, rather than objective facts and logic. In attribution bias, we generally attribute our good performance to internal factors like hard work, dedication, etc. and poor performance to external factors like lack of support, collaboration. However, when it comes to evaluating the performance of others, we turn the tables.
A classic example of attribution bias as one of the performance review biases is if Mr L has not been able to perform up to the mark and his manager has to evaluate his performance. With attribution bias, the manager, who might think Mr L is not hardworking, might believe that the reason for poor performance has been the casual attitude of Mr L, even if clearly, he wasn’t provided with the right tools and software needed for the job.
To prevent attribution bias, it is important that managers clearly define the reasons they believe led to the good or bad performance and a similar exercise is undertaken by the employee as a part of self reflection. It is important to assess both internal and external factors and focus on continuous feedback from diverse sources to understand which factors have been behind the performance more than others.
This is one of those performance review biases which are clear by the name. It suggests that when it comes to performance reviews, women are often evaluated based on their personality and behavior, while the performance of men is evaluated on the basis of their work. This leads to a skewed understanding of the contribution made by both genders, resulting in unfair distribution of rewards and recognition.
Suppose there are two colleagues who are being evaluated, Mr G and Ms K and both of them have had similar achievements, milestones and areas of improvement. A performance review which says Mr G has great coding skills and is able to write perfect codes in a short time, while Ms K has a pleasant demeanor and is able to collaborate with everyone well. While both the reviews are positive, the former one for the male employee is based on functional competencies, which yields better rewards and promotions for him, leading to gender inequality at the workplace.
To prevent gender bias, it is important to make performance reviews structured and objective. You may want to steer away from open feedback and give your managers a pre populated template with a few blocks. Furthermore, encourage your managers to quantify how each performer’s contribution led to organizational impact, focusing on behavior and outcome rather than performance itself.
All of us have preconceived notions about others and their performance. Confirmation bias occurs when you pay more heed to actions and information that confirm your bias about a particular performance than others which challenge your beliefs. Put simply, you are more likely to agree with opinions and facts which align with your evaluation of an individual’s performance, while negating those that give an alternate view. This gives a partial picture of an employee.
If a manager believes that Ms B has performed well due to her high functional skills, punctuality and attention to details, you will give her a higher rating. If the manager received feedback from external resources reinforcing the same belief, they will add that to their narrative. However, if a contrary comment comes to the picture, a manager with confirmation bias might discount or completely ignore it.
To prevent confirmation bias, managers need to think of their perceptions as potential truths and not the ultimate truths. An initial perception should be made, which should be confirmed or negated based on proofs and behaviors that come along the way, rather than the other way round. It is important to pay attention to and accept feedback that goes against one’s belief to get a complete picture of the employee’s performance.
As a manager, you may have some functional competencies which you are great at. However, there might be others where you have limited experience and expertise. One of the performance review biases in this case is the idiosyncratic bias. Here, you may end up being more lenient towards those who possess skills that you may have limited expertise with, while being more strict with those who share common skills like you. Often the reason behind is that, when someone evaluates performance based on skills that one has limited knowledge of, even small achievements make an impression, however, when it comes to evaluating skills one possesses, the standard for evaluation goes up. In either case, the performance review is not holistic.
There is a manager Ms H who is great at sales, but has limited expertise in building proposals and attention to detail. She has two team members working with her Mr T & Ms L, where the former has sales experience and the latter has experience in creating proposals with utmost accuracy. Idiosyncratic bias creeps in when unconsciously, Ms H gives Ms L a higher rating than Mr T, because the standards set for what constitutes good performance are based on her level of expertise.
To confront and prevent this performance review bias, managers must be encouraged to go beyond rating them based on their performance and what they believe has been the impact they have created. It is best for managers to consider whether or not their performance left an impression where the manager would want to work with the employee again.
As humans, we are inherently biased and unconscious bias training can go a long way into helping us keep our biases in check. However, to ensure that biases don’t impact performance reviews for any employees, it is best to implement a performance management tool to reduce their incidence. A performance management tool, like SuperBeings, will help you:
Prevent performance review biases like primacy effect and recency effect, etc. which rely on one a year bias prone 9 box grid assessment, by replacing it with a system generated grid based on performance snapshots collected throughout the year. Not only will you get a holistic view of the performance, your managers will also get a clear understanding of which employees need help more than others.
Equip your managers with a pre-built customizable template to answer simple questions about employee performance and potential at regular intervals to get a true snapshot of the performance and improvement from time to time. This will help managers objectively review performance at the end of the year.
Get inputs from diverse team members with automation to get a holistic view of an employee’s performance. This will help reduce the rater biases towards or against any employee and ensure that the reviews are genuine and authentic.
While performance review biases are common, if you are able to prevent them, you will unlock a high performance culture which greatly recognizes and incentivizes good performance. Using a performance management tool can help you achieve the same.