The Top 10 Performance Review Biases
The Top 10 Performance Review Biases

The Top 10 Performance Review Biases

When completing performance reviews, psychologists and researchers alike agree that managers naturally exhibit bias in the ratings. To be fair and objective, a performance evaluation must be based on the employee’s job-related behavior, not on the employee’s personal traits, work situation or other factors unrelated to employee performance. Though subjectivity and partiality will never be completely removed from the process, it’s important to keep some of our most common prejudices in mind when completing performance reviews.

Below is a Top 10 list of the more frequent rating errors/biases in the performance evaluation process:

  1. Excessive Leniency
  2. Excessive leniency occurs when the manager rates all employees higher than their performance warrants in an effort to be kind, supportive or well-liked. Sometimes the manager’s underlying motivation is the belief that an underperforming employee will be motivated by a positive performance review. Other managers simply prefer to take the path of least resistance. But it’s important to accurately rate each employee according to his or her performance during the rating period, or the entire performance evaluation system might be rendered ineffective.

  3. Excessive Severity
  4. Managers tend to demonstrate severity bias when hoping to motivate average-performing employees. A manager with this bias tends to rate all employees lower than their performance warrants in an effort to inspire average employees to improve their performance.

  5. Similar-to-Me Bias
  6. This bias occurs when the manager gives higher ratings to employees who are similar to the rater. We tend to like and relate well to people who remind us of ourselves; however, this resemblance should not spill over into performance review ratings.

  7. Opportunity Bias
  8. Opportunity bias transpires when the manager either credits or faults the employee for factors beyond the employee’s control. Managers stricken with the opportunity bias praise or blame the employee when the true cause of the performance was opportunity or a lack thereof. An example of this bias is a manager rating a sales employee favorably overall due to one big sale obtained by a stroke of luck, rather than through normal sales channels such as meeting, cold-calling and prospecting goals.

  9. Halo Effect
  10. The Halo Effect occurs when an employee possesses one exceptional strength and the manager allows this to carry over into other rating categories or to dominate the overall evaluation score. For example, if an employee excels in the category of “job knowledge,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee excels in the categories of “attendance” or “work production.”

  11. Horns Effect
  12. The Horns Effect occurs when an employee has one hindering weakness, and the manager allows this to seep into other rating categories or the overall outcome of the employee’s performance appraisal. For example, if an employee is especially weak in the category of “customer satisfaction,” it’s not necessarily true that the employee may need to make improvement in the categories of “job knowledge” or “problem solving.”

  13. Contrast Bias
  14. A manager afflicted with this bias tends to compare performance to other employees rather than comparing performance to an established company standard. It’s important that the manager does not consider the performance of other employees in an attempt to “rank” employees in the performance review process. Every employee deserves his or her performance review to be based solely on individual performance, not performance as compared with other employees.

  15. Recency Bias
  16. Recency bias occurs when the manager bases the evaluation on the last few weeks or months rather than the entire evaluation period. It’s important to consider the employee’s performance during the entire review period when completing the performance review form.

  17. Job vs. Individual Bias
  18. Some jobs seem to be more vital to the organization than are others. A particular job may be crucial to the company’s success, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee is performing well in that job.

  19. Length-of-Service Bias
  20. It’s important to remember that length of service is not a factor in evaluating performance. Therefore, long-term employees should be evaluated according to the same established standards as other employees.

It’s a great idea to assess your own biases prior to completing performance evaluations. It is also important to review these common biases with your management team prior to the commencement of performance appraisals, so your performance reviews are more accurate and objective in nature. When you can remove some of the bias from the evaluation process, performance appraisals become much more meaningful for organizational decision-making and compensation adjustments. In addition, they become much more useful to the employee in assessing valid areas that need improvement.

Need Help with Performance Reviews?

Paycor HR allows your employees to add goals, track performance and interact with their managers from one point of contact. Easily track workflow processes online and receive alerts when an approval is needed, or a change has been made. Interested in learning more?

Take Tour

More to Discover

Webinar: How Businesses Are Managing the New Reality of Work

Webinar: How Businesses Are Managing the New Reality of Work

COVID-19 changed the way we work and left a lot of unknowns about how to move forward. Recently, Paycor surveyed nearly 600 leaders of small and medium-sized businesses about their plans for 2020. Watch to learn the results of the survey and what approaches business leaders are taking to solve problems caused by the pandemic. Speaker: Matt BergantinoAs Director of Content, Matt leads a team of researchers, journalists and subject matter experts who are plugged into the news of the day, 24/7. Paycor's content team is dedicated to providing business insights that are so valuable, timely and easy-to-consume that people keep coming back for more.

Webinar: Paycor Virtual HR Platform Overview - 10/21 @3pm ET

Webinar: Paycor Virtual HR Platform Overview - 10/21 @3pm ET

Focus on what you do best. We’ll take care of the rest, behind the scenes.Over the years, Paycor has conducted hundreds of user groups, one-on-one interviews, and group discussions with HR leaders. One thing we discovered is that HR teams spend nearly 70% of their time on inefficient administrative tasks, some of which are still paper-based. To make a difference in your organization, your team needs to simplify and streamline HR, benefits administration and compliance so you can focus on what you do best.Join us as one of our solution experts walks through how Paycor’s HR solution can help you solve some of your biggest HR challenges.Speaker: John Redding John is the Senior Director of Deal Success and Pre-Sale Support for Paycor. He is...

[Infographic] Here’s How Businesses are Managing the New Reality of Work

[Infographic] Here’s How Businesses are Managing the New Reality of Work

Paycor surveyed nearly 600 leaders of small and medium-sized businesses about their plans for 2020. In this infographic, the HR and CFO leaders we surveyed describe the impact COVID-19 had on their business, including whether or not they received government funding.Share this Infographic On Your SitePlease include attribution to Paycor with this graphic.

[Infographic] How Manufacturers are Managing the New Reality of Work

[Infographic] How Manufacturers are Managing the New Reality of Work

Paycor asked manufacturing leaders about their plans for 2020. In this infographic, you’ll see how they had to adjust their workforce in response to COVID-19 and how many plan on hiring new employees in 2020.Share this Infographic On Your SitePlease include attribution to Paycor with this graphic.