How Can Hrd Address Performance Appraisal Bias?

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How can Human Resource Development address Performance Appraisal Bias? by
Jerry Lane Silmon

A Research Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for Human Resource Development

Texas A & M University
MAY 2010

How can Human Resource Development address Performance Appraisal Bias?1 Integrity of the System1
Feedback and Communication3
Forced Ranking4
Clear Goals and Objectives7
Performance Coaching9
Appropriate Use10
Organizational Oversight11
Concluding Remarks12
How can Human Resource Development address Performance Appraisal Bias?

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary lists as one of its definitions of the word bias the following: “a mental leaning or inclination; a bent”. The word discriminate is defined as “to constitute a difference between; differentiate” (Webster, 2010). A person who discriminates “sees” differences between two or more persons or things, even if there is no difference. A person who is biased is looking at everything from his or her particular slant, or point of view, and is so used to looking at the world this way that he or she may never even have considered that others see things differently. Organizational leaders use performance appraisal to assess employee strengths and weaknesses, using the information to make important decisions regarding rewards, promotions, and development (Smither, 1998, p. 163). The need for fair and effective performance evaluation and measurement has never been greater due to the continuing shift in employer/employee relationships and the growing demand for new and better ways of working together. Examined in the paper will be four key areas required for reducing performance appraisal distortion and bias. The areas are: 1. Integrity of the system,

2. Reviewer training,
3. Management leadership, and
4. Linking or alignment of appraisal goals to business objectives.

Integrity of the System

Employees dislike performance appraisal because managers do not always rate the employees on objective criteria. Experts call the problem rater bias. When managers include nonperformance factors like race, gender, hair color, etc. into an appraisal, the contaminated appraisal ratings produce fruit of perceived and genuine unfairness in the rating process and its outcomes. Employees react with reduced job satisfaction and turnover. The various forms of appraisal bias serve as a major source of Equal Employment Opportunity complaints and court cases. Rating bias occurs with the contamination of appraisal ratings. Rating bias occurs with the contamination of appraisal ratings by non-performance related factors. Prime examples include person characteristic bias (race, gender, and age), personal relationship contamination (liking or disliking), and failing to gather a representative sample of performance. Other sources of bias include the negative effect of employee and rater impression management. Managers often feel resentment toward the pandering employee, affecting their ability to rate fairly. Another factor is the influence of mood on performance appraisal ratings. When the manager or supervisor is in a bad mood, he or she is a much more conscientious performance rater and more attuned to employee mistakes and problems. When in a good mood, the manager is more likely to overlook poor employee performance. Given that the manager’s frame of mind is often beyond the employee’s control, it adds another frustrating uncertainty to the appraisal process. When managers do not follow stated Human Resource policies and procedures and when managers do not practice what is preached in the organization; the visible contradiction generates disappointment, distrust, and cynicism among their subordinates. It reduces the employee motivation and...
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