How can a manager prevent Haloes, Horns, and other performance rating pitfalls?

In Performance Appraisals, what are some ways to prevent Haloes (rating an employee higher than results merit), Horns (rating an employee lower that results merit), and other rating pitfalls such as stereotyping, applying subjective standards, and rating all employees the same? The following approaches may be helpful:

  • Develop a very clear definition for each performance factor and its supporting behaviors.
  • When an individual is particularly impressive in one area, avoid the tendency to let results in that area affect ratings in other performance areas.
  • Ask yourself how you feel about this person in general. If you realize that this person is your favorite employee or if you dislike him/her, be very careful to base ratings on documented results rather than on perceptions.
  • Develop an accurate understanding of the type of performance that represents each rating level, and apply that measure consistently.
  • Calibrate your rating scale with your Management Team’s rating scale.
  • Before the evaluation, gather as much information as you can about pertinent areas of performance.
  • Maintain a Performance File for each employee. Keep records of satisfactory performance and one-time successes as well as of development opportunities.
  • Don’t let a single experience determine your opinion of an employee’s performance. Gather as much information as possible and try not to weigh one incident too heavily. You may find that a certain behavior is typical of the employee, or you may learn it is extremely rare.


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