Conducting employee appraisals is usually one of the least
favorite tasks of most managers. It is easy to understand why.
Traditional one-size-fits-all appraisals bear little resemblance to
the actual job requirements. One-size-fits-all
systems use broadly defined statements to define work
responsibilities. And, the rating scale is more a measure of the
manager’s opinion, versus measure of actual performance.
Typical sample employee appraisal phrases:
To what degree an employee demonstrates the ability to interact
in a clear and logical manner, using verbal and written
Demonstrates the ability to inspire others to achieve higher
goals and business objectives.
A typical rating scale - 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
- Needs Development
- Meets Expectations
- Exceeds Expectations
- Walks On Water
The traditional appraisal rating scale actually increases
appraisal bias. The result of traditional employee appraisal forms
is more opinion poll than performance measure. Unfortunately, some
organizations avoid reviewing performance all together. They resort
to across-the-board raises that actually increase costs and tacitly
reinforce mediocrity throughout the organization. Most managers do
the best they can to make the traditional “finger in the wind”
appraisal process relevant and fair.
Here are some tips to making traditional
methods more relevant and accurate.
Effective “Human Factors" appraisal forms eliminate rating bias
with job specific performance criteria coupled with a behaviorally
anchored rating scale. This ensures pay and promotions are based on
Sample “job specific” appraisal phrases:
- Asks for and includes other people’s ideas into plans, problem
solutions, and assignments resulting in measurable improvements to
critical organization success factors.
- Independently disciplines, documents and/or redirects staff
according to HR guidelines and corporate policy.
- Independently ensures the performance range between the top
performer and the lowest performer is no more than 15%.
- Independently and accurately provides customer’s directions to
all service points, e.g. location, contact person, etc. as well as
information on all assigned products and services.
- Ensures customer information is accurately recorded in client
files and related documents within established deadlines.
Create behavioral anchors for your rating scale
A simple exercise can increase the accuracy and fairness of the
one-size-fits-all employee appraisal process. A pre-appraisal
meeting is set up to review performance characteristics (behavior
indicators) defining rating scale criteria. Through an open
discussion, managers agree on consistent ways to interpret
Once relative consistency is achieved, each manager is asked to
describe the behaviors they would associate with each rating on the
rating scale. The facilitator should make sure everyone clearly
understands the difference between an opinion and a behavior before
proceeding with the exercise. After everyone is finished, the group
compares their examples. Using consistent examples from the
discussion, the rating scale can be defined using behavioral anchors
to help managers calibrate their scoring on an employee appraisal
Managers and employees receiving above-average performance should be
rewarded accordingly. Rewarding performance is the only way to
sustain full employee engagement. However, managers rating staff
members above average may be asked to provide measurable evidence
justifying an above-average score. This simple exercise reduced
above-average ratings in one financial organization from 62.2% to
22% in one performance cycle.
Performance Path® takes the employee appraisal format one step
further, by linking a behavioral-anchored rating scale with stages
of employee development that result in a “Human Factors” rating
scale. The “Human Factors” rating scale enables managers to select
the best practice coaching strategy that matches employee
development, maximizing employee skill and initiative.
“Human Factors” appraisals improve communication between manager and
employee, both during and after the appraisal period. Developmental
planning and behavioral coaching are more likely to be successful
when the manager and employee are rewarded for their efforts. The
performance review shifts from focusing on the pay plan to achieving
performance goals. Managers and employees begin thinking like
owners. Over time a culture of achievement replaces the culture of
Article © Copyright 2010 Performance Path ® LLC. All Rights