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Detecting bias in performance reviews at work

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In today’s workplace, the effects of implicit – or unconscious bias – can seep into business processes and policies, negatively affecting employees and employers in the long term. Bias can be present throughout the entire employee lifecycle, with performance reviews being just one of these areas. 

Unconscious bias in performance reviews has a detrimental impact on employee advancement, as it can influence assessments, career outcomes and employee self-esteem. Working to address and mitigate implicit bias can cultivate trust, respect and a sense of psychological safety, fostering a fair and inclusive workplace that maximises the potential of every employee.

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What does our Detecting bias in performance reviews training involve?

The programme guides managers and other participants through key stages of the performance review process, including: 

  • Measuring employees against clear criteria 
  • Make an assessment  
  • Providing feedback 

The programme takes a practical approach in application, using case studies to contextualise understanding. We guide participants through six key biases that impact assessments of talent within the performance review process; these include: 

  • Recency bias: The tendency to make an assessment of an employee’s performance based on recent information, as opposed to making an assessment over the length of the performance cycle 
  • Confirmation bias: The tendency to seek out information that confirms existing views of an employee’s performance 
  • Halo / horns effect: The tendency to take one core factor of an employee’s traits to make an overall assessment of performance 
  • Leniency bias: The tendency for managers to give favourable ratings even though they have employees with notable room for improvement 
  • Idiosyncratic rater bias: The tendency for managers to rate others higher for skills they themselves do not possess. Conversely, they rate others lower in areas they are personally stronger in.
  • Gender bias: The tendency to rate men and women differently across a number of competency areas.  

To ensure relevance, we often take a client’s own performance review framework and build a set of learning materials around this, including real, but anonymous case studies. Furthermore, we provide participants with a set of practical tools and tips which are designed to both mitigate bias and ensure fair and equal performance reviews.  

Our programmes are often supported by “live reviews”, in which one of our consultants acts as a neutral observer within a real performance review setting. Our consultants then provide feedback to the manager on possible biases observed. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme, participants can expect to understand:

The impact of unconscious bias in the performance review process
The different types of implicit bias present in the workplace
How to identify and mitigate bias within your own performance review processes

Related services

To continue reading about FAIRER Consulting and our DE&I consultancy services, please see some of our related pages here:

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If you would like to discuss unconscious bias further, register for our training or would like to schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our DE&I experts, please get in touch.