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How Manager Misperceptions Can Lead to Inaccurate Performance Appraisals

One of the main errors that managers make in the performance-appraisal process is having misperceptions about employees. When clouded by misperception, the managers’ thinking is distorted, and they end up with evaluations that are equally distorted.

Managers who misperceive the realities of their employees’ behaviors do so as a result of their own needs, biases, expectations, prior experiences, and memories. When this happens, managers typically place too much emphasis on matters of minimal importance and too little emphasis on the stuff that matters most.

Calibrating recent events

Whether your employees recently have done something great or something that grates, the most likely outcome is that these recent actions and outcomes play a greater role in appraisals than is actually warranted. Why? Because recent events are far fresher in your memory than the events that happened early in the evaluation period. With recent events, you can relive the exact feelings of satisfaction or annoyance that you experienced just a few weeks ago — whether your employees leaped over the bar or tripped over it.

As you complete your appraisals, make sure you’re not placing undue emphasis on the good or bad things that happened in the past month or two — be sure to consider the events of the entire evaluation period.

Overpowering bias and stereotypes

Another misperception that managers may have about their employees may have nothing to do with the employees at all — and these misperceptions are biases and stereotypes. Such notions can be favorable or unfavorable, but either way, biases and stereotypes a clear source of inaccurate appraisals.

Biases and stereotypes are really about prejudice, which literally means “to prejudge.” Prejudging is particularly problematic in performance appraisals because one central managerial role in the process is to judge the employees’ behavior. If the judging component is completed before the process even starts, there’s no point in starting the process at all.

When you’re aware of the stereotypes you hold, you’ll have taken a gigantic step toward eradicating them.

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