We make assumptions about people almost every minute of every day, it’s only human. We are naturally geared towards certain personality types and avoid others. In the workplace these natural human behaviors can cause bias evaluations on an unconscious level. Supervisors who fill out staff evaluations need to be careful not to let their personal perceptions get in the way of an evaluation. There are several biases anyone handling evaluations should be aware of.
Direct Supervisor Bias – Assumptions of another can leak its way into how we perceive one another. For example; a staff member who comes in five minutes late may be seen in two different ways due to bias. The first staff member may be seen as only five minutes late but they did stop for doughnuts for the office so it is okay, while on the other side it may be seen as being late and trying to buy forgiveness through pastries.
Personal Bias – Staff members who only have negative feedback tend to stay in the negative, while those with positive feedback tend to continue performing well. It also goes to say that staff members who have the favor of the supervisor tend to do a better job while those who have personality clashes may not feel the motivation to go above and beyond the scope of their duties.
Avoiding the Truth Bias – Supervisors wanting to avoid negative feedback on an evaluation just to keep a happy staff or avoid a staff member’s challenge will diminish the results of your evaluation. Keep a lookout for evaluations that report all of your staff as top-notch, no mistake staff members.
Ways to avoid or help minimize staff evaluation bias:
Have more than one supervisor do an evaluation. If you have a small business you may need to do one of the evaluations yourself. During evaluations you can ask your staff members how they would rate each other and why.
You should be using evaluation forms that are personal to your company and departments. Finding general forms from the internet can create huge bias around employees who work outside of the box. General and outdated forms can put an excellent staff member in a bad light.
Train your supervising staff on how to understand the difference between personal and professional perceptions of subordinates. Having the skills to manage conflict and personality types will give your supervisors the tools they need to give evaluations effectively.
Keeping notes on each staff member highlighting strengths and weaknesses throughout the year will help avoid looking over accomplishments as well as pitfalls.
No company will ever be able to completely eliminate bias within their evaluations; you can however minimize its effects.