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How Can a Manager Avoid Bias in Employee Evaluations?

When performing employee performance evaluations, there are several forms of unconscious bias that can negatively impact your organization’s results – Our goal today is to help you understand the forms of bias you need to look for, as well as some tips for managers to prevent bias.


Forms of bias that can skew evaluation results:

  1. Confirmation bias: Managers may look for evidence that confirms their preconceived notions about an employee's performance, rather than objectively assessing all available information.

  2. Halo/horn effect: Managers may let one positive or negative trait of an employee overshadow their overall performance.

  3. Implicit bias: Managers may unconsciously hold stereotypes or prejudices that affect their evaluations of employees.

  4. Recency bias: Managers may give more weight to an employee’s recent performance, rather than considering their overall performance history.

  5. Self-fulfilling prophecy: Managers may have expectations for an employee’s performance, which can influence their evaluations and ultimately lead the employee to meet those expectations.

  6. Similarity bias: Managers might tend to rate employee who are similar to them more positively.

  7. Leniency/stringency bias: Managers may be too lenient or too strict in their evaluations, leading to inaccurate or inconsistent assessments across the organization.


These are just a few examples, and it's important to note that bias can manifest in many different ways.


To prevent bias in employee evaluations, a manager can take the following steps:

1. Establish clear, objective criteria for evaluating performance

Before conducting evaluations, create a set of specific, measurable, and objective criteria that will be used to assess an employee's performance. This will help to ensure that evaluations are based on concrete, observable behaviors rather than subjective opinions.


2. Use multiple sources of feedback

Rather than relying on a single source of feedback, a manager can gather input from multiple sources, such as self-assessment, peer feedback, and customer feedback, to get a more well-rounded view of an employee's performance.


3. Avoid making assumptions

Don't make assumptions about an employee's performance based on demographic characteristics such as race, gender, age, etc.


4. Set specific goals and expectations

Clearly communicate specific goals and expectations for the employee's role and performance when meeting with the employee throughout the year. This will help to ensure that the employee understands what is expected of them and that evaluations are based on clear, measurable criteria.


5. Use consistent processes

Be consistent in how you evaluate employees, using the same criteria and process for all employees. Consider using a standardized form or template to ensure that the same criteria are being applied to all employees.


6. Involve the employee in the process

Involving the employee in the evaluation process can help ensure that they feel heard and understood and can also help identify any potential biases or areas for improvement in the evaluation process.


7. Ensure confidentiality

It's important to ensure that employee evaluations are kept confidential to prevent any potential biases or discrimination from being revealed to others. As employees grow in their careers, results from previous years should be understood by managers but the employee should only be assessed based on their performance from the previous evaluation period.


We hope that this information helps you as you complete your performance evaluations. If you are looking for an easy to use, online system to help your organization gather meaningful information about your employees’ performance, feel free to learn more about Express Evaluations here.


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