Use Data to Avoid Bias in Performance Management

By Rebecca Pyatkevich on

There is one ritual of corporate life that is expensive, ineffective, and frustrating to managers and employees alike: the annual performance review. The traditional performance review takes the shape of a manager’s report, comments from co-workers, or an evaluation based on predetermined metrics. Administered once a year, the process can be cookie-cutter and have little to do with an employee’s actual job or actual performance. Worse, this process is often also harmful and unfair. Not only is it based on only a small amount of data that’s not always relevant to the actual job, but much of that data comes from one or two people. And people are prone to bias.

How Bias Shows Up in Old-School Performance Management

According to Bernard Marr, an expert on big data and performance, bias is a big problem with traditional performance reviews.  In The Future of Performance Management: How AI and Big Data Combat Workplace Bias in Forbes, Marr explains which biases show up most often. Most dangerous and most pervasive are race and gender biases. The harm caused by these biases is obvious. But other, less obvious biases also occur. Contrast bias is when the evaluator judges the employee against other co-workers rather than against a defined standard. Recency bias weighs recent actions more heavily than ones that occurred earlier in the review period.

Why Data Can Help

What if, instead of trying to collect data about your employees once a year, and only from a few people, your company collected it all year long, from as many relevant people and interactions as possible? MeetingPulse can turn any specific task or outcome into data used to provide actionable, specific feedback. For example, your company can collect data based on a recently completed project, interactions with customers, and interactions during and after meetings.   Your managers and employees will receive employee feedback on an as-needed basis. As Marr points out,

Because AI-driven assessment can happen in real-time (with systems monitoring targets, quotas and how these are affected by people’s connections), incentives and praise for good performance can be dished out immediately. If targets are not being met or performance standards are slipping, then intervention can take place before the problem grows and becomes unmanageable.

Basing your performance management on frequently collected data will make your company more responsive. The feedback your employees will receive will be more accurate and relevant. And most importantly, lots of data collected at different points and from different people will be less prone to bias. Your company will be able to develop a more socially conscious and responsible workplace.

Change is Coming

The move toward a more modern performance management system mirrors other changes in the 21st century workplace. It goes hand in hand with a focus on employee engagement. Better data can be one of the tools through which to develop humble leadership. It creates a culture that fits the social concerns of millennial employees and consumers. And, by reducing bias in the workplace, it can help make the world a better place.

 

Are you looking to create a more effective, responsive, accurate and socially responsive system for performance management? Online tools can help companies collect data that can help combat biases and errors when evaluating performance. At MeetingPulse, we believe in creating an open workplace. We can help collect actionable, frequent employee feedback that can help evaluate performance after specific tasks, meetings, and events. Our system works from any browser via a short link, so you don’t ever have to download an app. MeetingPulse technology is simple and intuitive to use, and can be easily customized to fit your needs.  Click on “Keep Me Posted” on our blog page to receive blog updates and our free e-book. Or contact us for more information. 

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