Beware of Availability Bias When Preparing Performance Reviews

Availability bias was pioneered by psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, who in 1973 developed a model to explain systematic bias in human decision-making. Kahneman subsequently won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work.  We all have availability bias and have to exert much cognitive discipline to avoid the pitfalls.

Availability bias is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to mind. When making a decision, recent related events and situations are easily remembered. As a result, we might judge that those events are more frequent and impactful than others. We give greater credence to this information and tend to overestimate the probability and likelihood of similar things happening in the future.

Availability bias is frequently demonstrated when preparing performance reviews.  Leaders tend to give greater weight to recent events when evaluating their direct reports.  This becomes more problematic the longer the time between performance reviews.  Most people can only recall details within the past 90 days.  To overcome this tendency, leaders must record the performance of their direct reports throughout the review period and prepare the review based on those records, not their memories.

Empower your leaders to prepare their performance reviews based on documentation accumulated all through the review period instead of what they remember, and they’ll have more successful feedback sessions.

Explore posts in the same categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

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