How To Do Fair Appraisals In Startups


Cognitive and perceptive problems like Halo and Contrast effect, Recency, Personal and Rater biases cause the raters to make errors in assessing employees during performance appraisal sessions.? While these blunders may go unnoticed in a large organisation, In a startup, mistakes like these can immediately catch up a fire and build toxicity in culture.

Calibration meetings make room for new perspectives on an employee?s performance, consequently creating a more balanced assessment. These sessions force managers to explain the rationale for performance ratings, this leads to scores that are more consistent across the organisation and are devoid of rater bias. This has a soothing effect on employees too; they are more satisfied since a panel assesses their performance and they are not at anyone’s mercy.

Preparation is the key

The managers need to prepare well in advance for the calibration meeting. Managers that are better prepared often present their employees in a better light, and eventually, they get recognised for their work.

Employees who are saddled with managers may suffer during the calibration meetings and may receive unwarranted low scores.

Must Read: ?Why Are Your Employees Unhappy

Accordingly, as a manager, you should present employees at a calibration meeting using several sources of information to produce an appraisal that is then reviewed by other members as well.

Pre-meeting work

– Employees complete a self-appraisal, and managers receive completed 360-degree review for reports.

– Managers use the information to complete a draft appraisal for each employee.

– Using draft evaluation, managers determine performance rating (top 20%, middle 70%, or bottom 10%).

– Assign an initial rating to HR and discuss reasoning/evidence during the meeting.

– Due to time restrictions, it is important to choose and consider a manageable employee group; the typical size of the group is 20-80 employees.

– The participants for such calibration sessions should ideally include an HR facilitator, a meeting chair (typically a senior business manager), and 8-18 managers (direct reports of the senior business manager).

How to run a performance review calibration session

Calibration meetings involve the presenting the credentials of an employee and the subsequent discussion by group participants on the reasons for the rating. The discussion should include direct experiences and current information about employees such as performance on projects, attitude towards peers, and contribution to the team. All comments the should be supported with evidence.

Interesting Read:?Employee Engagement In Startups

You can use this step-by-step process to prepare yourself and your team for the calibration meeting.

The participants introduce themselves

The meeting begins with an overview of meeting structure and guidelines. Sample ground rules for a productive session are:

-? Managers can comment on an individual?s rating only after a manager has completed presenting an employee.

-? Managers must have current and direct knowledge of employees to engage in discussion.

-? Managers cannot reference information from previous performance cycles.

-? Evidence must support all anecdotal evidence provided by managers.

Order of presentation in performance review calibration session

The meeting then proceeds with managers presenting an individual employee and the group discussing whether the employee is in the correct performance level. Participants take notes regarding employees and can return to discuss them after they hear all employees in the group. The presentation process has the following order:

– Top 20%

– Bottom 10%

– Middle 70% near Top 20%

– Middle 70% near Bottom 10%

– Middle 70%

For each employee, their performance/background, promotability/potential, proposed development plan should be discussed. In addition to this, the departmental heads should review critical positions and progress in maintaining the talent pipeline.

Closing the performance review calibration session

Once everyone is in agreement with the ratings given to the employees, the calibration session should be considered as closed, and remember calibration can be done only once in a year, you cannot revisit the results after few days.

The managers can use the output of calibration sessions to take notes regarding development areas and use it an input to construct individual development plans for direct reports. Secondly, it feeds directly into employees? final performance rating, which is linked to financial rewards (e.g., merit increases and bonuses).

Jappreet Sethi

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