Who should do the appraising? and Rating errors

Traditionally, the person’s direct supervisor appraises his or her performance. However other options are available and are increasingly used. Some of the main ones are discussed as given below:

The Immediate Supervisor: Supervisor’s ratings are the heart of most appraisals. This makes sense. The supervisor usually is in the best position to observe and evaluate the subordinate’s performance and is responsible for that person’s performance.

Peer Appraisals: With more firms using self managing teams, peer or team appraisals, the appraisals of an employee by his or her peers – are becoming more popular. Typically, an employee chooses an appraisal chairperson each year. That person then selects one supervisor and three or four peers to evaluate the employee’s work.

Peer appraisals can predict future management success. In one study of military officers, peer ratings were quite accurate in predicting which officers would be promoted. Peer ratings have other benefits. One study involved placing undergraduates into self managing work groups. The researchers found that peer appraisals had an immediate positive impact on [improving] perception of open communication, task motivation, social loafing group viability, cohesion and satisfaction. However, logrolling – when several peers collude to rate each other highly can be a problem.

Rating Committees: Many employers use rating committees. These committees usually contain the employee’s immediate supervisor and three or four other supervisors.

Using multiple raters make sense. While there may be a discrepancy among ratings by individual supervisors, the composite ratings tend to be more reliable, fair, and valid. Using several raters can also cancel out problems like bias and halo effects. Further more, when there are differences in ratings, they usually stem from the fact that raters at different levels observe different facets of an employees’ performance, and the appraisal ought to reflect these differences. Even when a committee is not used, it is customary to have the manager immediately above the one who makes the appraisal review it.

Appraisal by subordinates:

Many employers let subordinates anonymously rate their supervisor’s performance, a process some call upward feedback. The process helps top managers diagnose management styles, identify potential people and take corrective action with individual managers as required. At firms such as FedEx subordinate ratings are especially valuable the used for developmental rather than evaluative purposes. Managers who receive feedback from subordinates who identify themselves view the upward appraisal process more positively than do managers who receive anonymous feedback. However, subordinates (not surprisingly) are more comfortable giving anonymous responses, and those who have to identify themselves tend to provide inflated ratings. Sample upward feedback items include; I can tell my manager what I think and my manager tells me what is expected.

Potential rating Errors

1) Focusing on one or two critical incidents: Basing assessments on one or two big incidents and disregarding the person’s total performance.
2) Lower rating for less challenge: rating some employee lower than others because they are in jobs that you believe are less challenging.
3) Nobody can be that good: strictness error, in other words, being overly stringent believing that one can be that effective.
4) Similarly: Giving high ratings to employees who strike you as very similar to you in background work habits or experience.
5) Being influenced by prior performance: believing based on the person’s prior performance ratings, that you must be wrong about how you appraise his or her current performance and that you must have overlooked something.
6) Rating for retention: Giving your employees higher ratings because you’re afraid you’ll lose them.
7) Style differences: Lowering an employee’s rating because he or she approaches the task differently than you might.
8) Emotional rating: Allowing strong feelings about individuals to influence the rating (positively or negatively)
9) Recent performance only: Also called the ‘recency effect’, letting what the employee has done recently to blind you to what his or her performance has been over the year.
10) Friendships; letting personal relationships outside the office influence employee’s rating.