Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Rating Pitfalls/Errors to Avoid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attractiveness Effect

 

Definition

Example

The well-documented tendencies for people to assume that people who are physically attractive are also superior performers.

Ronald, customer service supervisor, rated those subordinates who were tall, slender, and good-looking higher than he rated those who were just average in appearance, even though there was no significant difference in the quality of their work.

 

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Attribution Bias

 

Definition

Example

The tendency to attribute performance failings to factors under the control of the individual and performance successes to external causes.

Harriet, a manager with a mixture of both excellent and mediocre performers in her work group, attributes the successes of the former group to her quality of leadership and the failings of the latter group to their bad attitudes and inherent laziness.

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Central Tendency

 

Definition

Example

The inclination to rate people in the middle of the scale even when their performance clearly warrants a substantially higher or lower rating.

Out of an erroneous belief that the law required companies to treat all employees the same, and a conscious desire to avoid confrontation, Harold rated all seven of the employees in his work group as meeting objectives despite significant differences in their performance.

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First Impression

 

Definition

Example

The tendency of a manager to make an initial positive or negative judgment of an employee and allow the first impression to color or distort later information.

Rachel, a manager new to a work group, noticed one employee, who was going through a divorce, performing poorly.  Within a month the employee’s performance had returned to its previous high level, bur Rachel’s opinion of the individual’s performance was adversely affected by the initial negative impression.

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Halo/Horn Effect

 

Definition

Example

Inappropriate generalizations from one aspect of an individual’s performance to all areas of that person’s performance.

Jeff was outstanding in his ability to get delinquent customers to pay up.  His excellence in this important area caused his manager to unthinkingly rate him highly in unrelated areas where his performance was actually less than stellar.

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High Potential Error

 

Definition

Example

Confusing an individual’s future potential with his current performance.

Luis has a graduate degree from a prestigious university and was selected for the company’s fast track training program.  As a result, his manager rated his performance as exceeded when actually it was met objectives.

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Negative & Positive Skew

 

Definition

Example

The opposite of central tendency.  The rating of all individuals as higher or lower than their performance actually warrants.

Susan rates all of her employees higher than she feels they actually deserve, in the misguided hope that this will cause them to live up to the high rating they have been given.  Carlos sets impossibly high standards and expectations and is proud of never having met a subordinate who deserved the highest rating.

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Past Performance Error

 

Definition

Example

Permitting an individual’s poor (or excellent) performance in a previous rating period to color the manager’s judgment about her performance in this rating period.

Last year Alicia was a distinguished performer and received the highest appraisal rating.  This year her manager again rated her distinguished, even though her performance this year was no better than other employees who were rated fully successful.

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Recency Effect

 

Definition

Example

The tendency for minor events that have happened recently to have more influence on the rating than major events of many months ago.

Victoria kept no formal records of the overall performance or critical incidents of her work group of twelve people during the course of the year.  When she began writing their final assessments, she discovered that the only examples she could provide for either positive or negative performance had happened in the last two months.

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Similar-to-Me Effect

 

Definition

Example

The tendency of individuals to rate people who resemble themselves higher than they rate others.

Carol, a single mother of four small children, had prevailed in her efforts to succeed and had been promoted to manager.  She unwittingly rated several women who were also single mothers higher than their performance warranted.

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Stereotyping

 

Definition

Example

The tendency to generalize across groups and ignore individual differences.

Waldo is quiet and reserved, almost meek – about as far from the conventional cliché of a salesman as can be imagined.  His sales record, however, is one of the best in the company.  But his boss rated his performance lower than that of other salespeople since he did not fit the mold, ignoring the results that Waldo had produced.

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