Human Resources

Employee Relations | Avoiding Evaluation Errors

Avoiding Evaluation Errors

Common Errors Managers Make When Appraising Employees

The halo effect
Letting a positive area prevent you from providing constructive feedback in another area.

Recency effect
Considering only recent performance and not considering the entire review period. Take informal notes about employees (both good and bad things) throughout the year to ensure your evaluation is based on the entire appraisal period – not just what happened last week.

Not knowing employees – no news is good news

Not knowing employees and not being able to provide credible feedback.

Unforgettable event
A significant mistake or contribution lingers and skews overall judgment of an employee.

It’s difficult for most managers to give employees poor ratings. Avoiding the issues and showing a lack of managerial courage.

Giving a more favorable rating to someone perceived as being similar to him or herself.

Central tendency

Rating all employees as average. Managers that are unclear about their expectations may rate everyone the same or they may be unable to differentiate between levels of performance.

Postponing or skipping the appraisal or allowing for interruptions

Delays create the wrong impression. Employees begin to perceive that neither they nor the appraisal are important.

Poor preparation
Impromptu meetings rarely produce effective results. It quickly becomes apparent that the appraiser is not well prepared. The employee may assume the manager does not know what is going on or that she simply doesn’t care enough to prepare.

Using the evaluation as corrective action
The appraisal meeting should not be a disciplinary session. Inappropriate behavior must be dealt with when first observed. Discipline and discussion of performance/goals don’t work well together. Corrective action should have been addressed earlier. The evaluation is a time to discuss strengths and weaknesses, perhaps assessing how an employee has done in correcting past behavior. However, it isn’t the place to raise new disciplinary actions.

Overemphasizing good performance

Praise and positive reinforcement are terrific. However, compliments quickly become meaningless if they aren’t specific and substantive. They can also give an employee the false impression that you are completely pleased with everything he/she does. Be honest and direct.

Not following through
Most of the time and effort spent in planning for and conducting an effective interview is lost if you don’t follow through with the actions/plans discussed in the evaluation. Performance management should be a daily (not annual) activity.

Avoiding the tough issues
Employee problems rarely correct themselves. Nearly everyone is uncomfortable raising sensitive issues or criticizing others. However, unless the tough issues are addressed they inevitably get worse, the manager loses credibility, and the employee may not ever know there is a problem.

Evaluating attitude
While we all are forced to deal with employees’ attitudes (whatever that means!), attitudes are basically impossible to evaluate and even harder to change. Focus on results and objective, observable actions. They’re easier to complete and much more readily justified.

Accepting excuses

There may be legitimate reasons why an employee has been unable to complete assigned goals. However, don’t immediately accept excuses for poor performance. Often they’re simply not valid. If they are appropriate, a solution and action plan should be developed to avoid such problems in the future.

Ignoring employee feedback

Asking employees for input only to ignore their comments can be very damaging. It makes evaluation meetings much less effective and communicates to employees that while their ideas may be asked for they’re not listened to or acted upon.

Surprise employees

The performance appraisal should not be the time for employees to hear bad news or harsh judgments that have not been previously addressed.


Employee Relations Contact

Kevin Sansberry II

Senior Human Resources Manager