Conducting journals for a company is not always easy. Regardless of the numbers themselves, it can be difficult to evaluate the professional performance of someone.
To complicate the situation, management often forms personal and positive working relationships with employees, which makes it difficult to be honest about the negative aspects. Because of this, it's easy to fall into traps like leniency bias, which is essential to avoid as it can hurt the entire business.
What is the leniency bias?
Clemency bias is an effect that many managers experience when it comes time to review their employees or their peers. Essentially, it is about an individual or groups of people with whom they tend to be more lenient with respect to one another, regardless of their actual performance.
Sometimes it takes the form of leniency towards peers or with an individual employee because of a closer working relationship with them. This bias also occurs in situations other than employee ratings. Some managers may be overly positive when reviewing performance, and not focusing on areas needing improvement.
Needless to say, the results are inaccurate when this happens. One can not rely on inflated odds because of the lack of a fair and objective system. Indications of areas of improvement tend to be neglected in these cases, which means that there is no incentive for growth. This can be detrimental to improving performance.
What are the causes? – Employees
Personality plays a huge role in leniency. Researchers have found that those who benefit most from prejudice are individuals who are generally regarded by others as pleasant and extroverted compared to those who are not. The reasoning is simple: people who are appreciated by others, and in particular by their management, will receive more positive evaluations than peers who have equal performance but who are not so extroverted or pleasant.
Critics of many people are primarily affected by their disposition instead of their overall performance and contribution to the company. For a more objective and fair evaluation of employees, it is essential to be aware of this natural tendency to favor friends and pleasant people.
Another factor that contributes to the clemency bias is the fear that negative assessments poorly reflect the evaluator. This is especially the case when the direct direction of the employees performs the assessments. This comes from the idea that negative ratings indicate poor leadership; and therefore, management is more likely to rank employees in their department higher than deserved to be more successful in their position.
What are the causes? – Self Assessment
One of the most delicate assessments for many to complete is self-assessment. They are something that everyone has known at some point in their lives, whether through work or school. These create the dilemma of wanting a good review while trying to be honest. Ideally, everyone honestly answers in their self-assessments, but it has been shown that even these are unreliable due to differences in personality and standards.
For example, a confident and secure individual will actually believe in his or her work and skills, which will result in a positive rating. Alternatively, someone who lacks that confidence is more likely to give themselves a more negative opinion. Since self-evaluators have no standard to compare or other assessments to compare, the results of these evaluations are arbitrary.
How to avoid the clemency bias
The clemency bias can be difficult to avoid. After all, the more the management likes or focuses on someone, the more likely it is to offer them leniency. The only way to avoid it is to look only at the performances that, unfortunately, are extremely difficult to do.
The good news is that there are digital programs to facilitate the evaluation process. Programs like 360-degree commentary look at the facts to help build objective reviews. They look at performance, productivity and reliability, to name a few. This is a great tool to use when it comes to avoiding leniency bias.