The #1 Way to Improve Employee Performance

Coaching. Coaching should happen immediately after an event or task when it comes to performance evaluation, and then weekly or biweekly during ongoing tasks. This eliminates recall bias. The rater, or in this case, coach, only has to remember the events in the near past. The focus of coaching should be on the future and not an evaluation of the past. The strengths of the employee should be at the forefront of the coaching. An effective coach can find five things that work, five strengths to be celebrated and further developed. For every five strengths, the coach should choose one “high priority interrupt” (Buckingham, 2019). A high priority interrupt is the single most important obstacle to performance that the employee should address.

Buckingham, M., & Goodall, A. (2019). Nine lies about work: A freethinking leaders guide to the real world. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Three Factors that Comprise a Performance Evaluation

There are three factors the comprise a performance evaluation.

1. Performance of the rater

If the rater does not perform well in their job it can lead to trust issues with the rated. There needs to be accountability with the rater and ownership of their job. If they cannot perform the functions of their job, the rater will not have the credibility necessary to rate the rated.

 2. Bias of recall

Bias of recall leads to data insufficiency. The premise is that raters don’t interact with the rated enough to evaluate the skills and attributes of the rated person. Raters are focused on their own work and don’t pay attention closely or continually over the rating period to compile accurate data. Bias of recall specifically points to the problem that the rater cannot remember the behavior of the rated past the prior few days or week.

3. Rater bias

Research agrees that rater bias, otherwise known as idiosyncratic rater effect, is the most significant factor in a performance review. This built-in, inescapable bias affects every rater whether they realize it or not. The idiosyncratic pattern of rating is skewed left or right, clustered or spread out. This bias has nothing to with gender, race, or age and applies to both the rater and the rated. Of note, the more complex the rating scale in a performance evaluation, the more magnified the idiosyncratic rater pattern manifests.

The performance evaluation is not a new idea. Performance evaluations are often used in their respective organizations for promotion, bonuses, and administrative actions.