Avoid The “Halo/Horn Effect” In Performance Evaluations

Cognition, the act or process of thinking, enables us to process vast amounts of information quickly. As we are consciously thinking about one specific thing, our brain is processing thousands of subconscious ideas. Unfortunately, our cognition is not perfect, and there are certain judgment errors that we are prone to making, known in the field of psychology as cognitive biases. They happen to everybody regardless of age, gender, education, intelligence, or other factors.  For leaders these errors often impact their leadership effectiveness.

One of the challenges leaders face is the Halo/Horn effect cognitive bias when conducting performance evaluations.  The Halo/Horn effect is the tendency for an direct report’s positive or negative trait to “spill over” to other areas the evaluator’s perceptions of them. This bias happens a lot in employee performance evaluations. For example, if a direct report has been late to work for three days; you may remember this and conclude that they are lazy and don’t care about their job. There are many possible reasons for this, perhaps their car broke down, their babysitter did not show up, or there has been bad weather. The problem is, because of one negative aspect, we may assume that the direct report is a poor worker and that may unfairly influence our overall evaluation of them.

Empower yourself to document all the behaviors of your direct reports for the whole performance evaluation period. Review those notes when preparing their performance evaluations and try not to let recent or singular events influence your evaluation.  You’ll then have more successful direct reports.

(source: Science & Nature – Top 10 Common Faults In Human Thought)

Explore posts in the same categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration, Selection

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