Giving Fair Performance Evaluations

Businessman studying resultsThe art of giving a useful, fair and unbiased employee evaluation benefits the employee, manager, and the organization. Giving fair and impartial evaluations is critical to any manager’s success. Avoiding the pitfalls of many beginning managers is the first step towards improving your own success as well as the success of your team and your organization.

The Recency Effect

Never fall into the trap of basing a performance evaluation only on a subordinate’s most recent performance – known as the Recency Effect. Most people know when they are due for performance evaluations and go above and beyond as they approach their due date. They may volunteer for extra hours or be uncharacteristically upbeat and positive. The sharp ones even bring unexpected doughnuts or treats for the boss.

The best plan is to keep notes all year long. Depending on your position, this may mean carrying around a notebook or it may mean keeping notes in a spreadsheet on your computer.

But having something to review when evaluation time rolls around can keep a manager from being seduced by a savvy employee. Whatever you do, make sure these notes are kept strictly confidential. Legal matters can quickly spiral out of control if a manager’s notes on specific employees are made public.  

Evaluating Favorites

Also beware the trap of giving great evaluations to your favorites. It is natural to get along well with some people more than others. Some people just click. But you have to leave emotions behind when performing a subordinate’s evaluation.

It isn’t fair to them to give them excessively positive or negative feedback. Think critically about their roll in the organization and what they do well, and in what areas they can improve.  

Don’t Go Easy On Them

Many green managers find it easier to give positive evaluations and avoid the tough confrontation. This does seem easier at first… but it will come back to haunt you. Eventually you’ll want to let one of these poor performers go and your own evaluations will work against you.

Whether it is due to a poor business environment or just a bad apple in the bunch, under-performers eventually become too much of a problem for any organization to carry. And getting stuck with one of these people can put a black mark on your own record for years to come.