Common Mistakes Managers Make when Conducting Employee Reviews II

Unfortunately, there are a lot of different mistakes that a manager can make when conducting an employee review.  We have addressed some of those pitfalls, but not all of them.  In this section, we will discuss some additional issues.  By the end of this module, you should understand some of the major pitfalls of employee reviews. 

Leniency/Desire to Please

Leniency, or desire to please, is a huge pitfall of employee reviews.  Leniency, or desire to please, means giving a favorable rating to an undeserving employee just to avoid conflict.  Giving constructive criticism is never easy.  No one wants to make an employee upset.  Even though the employee may not be thrilled by the constructive criticism you’re giving, they still need to hear it.  Here are some ways to give constructive criticism:

  • Be specific.
  • Sandwich criticism between compliments.
  • Offer solutions to problems.
  • Don’t overwhelm employee with too much criticism.
  • Be direct.
  • Show them that you care and understand.

First Impression Bias

Another thing to watch out for is first impression bias.  We have all been there, had a bad day, and made a poor first impression on someone. First impression bias means allowing a prior impression of an individual to cloud all future decisions.  An annual review should consist of the employee’s full year, not just a first impression.  

Rater Bias

Rater bias means rating an employee based on personal feelings instead of actual facts.  It’s easy to let your personal feelings cloud your judgment.  Regardless of if your bias is in favor or not in favor of your employee, it’s wrong to let your personal feelings effect an employee’s review.  Annual reviews need to be based on an employee’s performance only.   Your personal feelings are not valid in this arena.  

Recency Effect

When giving annual employee reviews, you also will want to avoid the Recency Effect.  The Recency Effect is allowing the most recently concluded evaluation rating to skew the rater’s judgment with regards to the present performance evaluation.  Have you heard that saying “I’m only human?”  As humans, we are prone to error, but also have the ability to learn and adapt.  Employee reviews help employees learn what they need to improve.  Having previous performance reviews in mind while doing one’s current review doesn’t allow them to grow.  The point of an annual review is to show the employee what it is they need to work on, and what they are doing well.  If you don’t take into account their growth, they will only become disengaged from the whole process. 

Case Study

Greg is a supervisor at the Dust-off Cleaning Company.   Today, Greg has given Bethany her annual review.  Bethany feels like her review was unfair, for the third year in a row.  When she first met Greg, she made a joke about the shirt he was wearing. Ever since that day, she feels like Greg hasn’t liked her, and that discontent has reflected her reviews.  She keeps getting the same poor marks on every review.  She asked Greg how she should fix the issue, and has taken steps to do so, but she still gets the same poor rating.  Bethany is so upset by this last evaluation, she is really considering looking for another job.