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11.12: Performance Management Errors

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    Learning Outcomes
    • Discuss common performance management errors

    As alluded to in our discussion of appraisal methods, there are a number of factors that can distort appraisal results. In this section, we’ll discuss perception errors and how to avoid them.

    Indiana University’s Human Resources identifies the following eleven perceptual errors:[1]

    • The Leniency Error. Giving everyone high ratings regardless of actual performance, in an attempt to avoid conflict or to make yourself look good.
    • The Central Tendency Error. Clumping or clustering all employees in the middle performance categories in an attempt to avoid extremes.
    • The Recency Error. Failing to take into account the entire evaluation period and focusing on a recent performance episode, positively or negatively.
    • The Halo Effect Error. Letting one favored trait or work factor influence all other areas of performance, resulting in an unduly high overall performance rating.
    • The Horns Effect Error. Allowing one disfavored trait or work factor to overwhelm other, more positive performance elements, resulting in an unfairly low overall performance rating.
    • Contrast Error. Evaluating an employee in relation to another employee rather than relative to his/her duties, goals and stated performance standards.
    • Past Performance Error. Rating on past performance rather than present performance.
    • Biased Rating Error. Allowing personal feelings toward employee to influence rating.
    • High Potential Error. Confusing potential with performance.
    • Similar to Me Error. Similar to me and therefore feeling of comfort and compatibility
    • Guilt by Association Error. Evaluation influenced by employee’s associations rather than performance.

    Avoiding Errors

    Three tips to avoid these errors:

    • Cultivate awareness or potential errors
    • Rely on the data and documentation you’ve compiled, rather than your perceptions. That is, focus on the performance, rather than the person.

    Note that there is a tendency to avoid accurate ratings—particularly on the downside—when there’s a significant amount at stake—for example, a promotion/demotion, raise or PIP. Let the person’s performance make the decision.

    Two people in discussion during a performance review.

    Developing and practicing techniques—for example, participating in appraisal and feedback simulations—for having difficult conversations will help you develop skills that will pay off in a variety of work and life situations. On her website, author, speaker, and trainer Judy Ringer provides a step-by-step checklist for having difficult conversations, including how to prepare yourself, 4 steps for a successful outcome and practice tips. For perspective, the four steps are highlighted below:[2]

    • Step #1: Inquiry. Cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity.
    • Step #2: Acknowledgment. Show that you’ve heard and understood what the person is saying.
    • Step #3: Advocacy. Clarify your position without minimizing the other person’s position.
    • Step #4: Problem-Solving. Begin building solutions.
    Learn More

    Check out Dana Caspersen’s “Conflict is a place of possibility” TED Talk to learn more about this subject.

    1. "Evaluate Job Performance." Indiana University Human Resources. August 2018. Accessed August 20, 2019. ↵
    2. Ringer, Judy. "↵

    Contributors and Attributions

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    This page titled 11.12: Performance Management Errors is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Nina Burokas via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.