Rater Reliability Eliminating Bias

October 26, 2021

Research has shown that nearly half of employees believe that employee assessments are a waste of time. And for many managers, there either is no set standard for evaluation or it is irrelevant to their team with no metrics or context to fairly and accurately measure performance.

According to Harvard Business Review, “when the context and criteria for making evaluations are ambiguous, bias is more prevalent. As many studies have shown, without structure, people are more likely to rely on gender, race, and other stereotypes when making decisions – instead of thoughtfully constructing assessments using agreed-upon processes and criteria that are consistently applied across all employees.”

A lot of evaluations are open-ended leaving room for bias and conducting evaluations once a year can be stressful for managers who have to recall a year’s worth of performance for each team member.

Evaluations can be influenced by a person’s mood and recent experience, which could negatively impact what otherwise may have been a decent review.

Maintaining an objective point of view, refraining from comparing employees, and keeping emotions out of the evaluation process can be difficult.

Everyone is guilty of practicing bias at one point or another. However, there are ways to mitigate the presence of bias in evaluations, and ensure rater reliability.

What is Rater Reliability?

Rater reliability is the concept that when something is being assessed, it would get the same accurate score, no matter who is doing the rating. Ideally, high rater reliability means that the evaluator has accurate data and a clear picture of employee performance.

What happens when rater reliability is absent?

When objectivity is removed, rater bias takes place. This means that the rater gives a score that would not be completely accurate because they allowed emotions, fatigue, low focus, etc. to influence their evaluation process. If there is unchecked rater bias occurring during the evaluation process, then the data is skewed and does not present an accurate picture of employee performance.

Types of rater bias include:

  • Halo bias– more favorable rating than accurate
  • Horns bias – more unfavorable rating than accurate
  • Primary bias – rating based on work at the beginning of the project
  • Recency bias – rating based on work at the end of the project
  • Normative bias – rating every team member the same without considering differences
  • Comparative bias – rating based on comparison to other team members instead of individual performance
  • Affinity bias – favorable rating because evaluator has a lot in common with the employee
  • Alienation bias – unfavorable rating because evaluator has little in common with the employee
  • Situational bias – rating based on event that was out of the employee’s control

How to Practice Rater Reliability

Before beginning an evaluation, managers should take a moment to evaluate their own state of mind and current situation:

  • What is my current mood? If you are in a more emotional state, try taking a couple of deep breaths until you feel yourself calmed down.
  • What is my current energy level? f you notice you are tired or are overly energized, this may not be the time to fill out the observation!
  • Am I able to give this evaluation my full attention right now? Inattentiveness can drastically affect the accuracy of an evaluation.
  • Am I able to fill out this evaluation objectively? Sometimes we need to separate the actions from the person so that we can give an accurate and objective assessment.
  • Can I think of an example that would exemplify this rating? If we are able to think of concrete documented behaviors, actions, instances, etc., where the employee earned this rating, then we will likely have more accurate data. If we can provide evidence for a rating, then we are mitigating rater bias.

Truvelop provides employers and managers a detailed report for each employee based on aggregated data within the app so managers can track progress over time. The more data that is collected, the more accurate it will be. When managers frequently complete objective evaluations, including detailed notes to provide context, employers will have a clearer picture of each individual employee, recognize opportunities for advancement or lateral movements, and identify human resource challenges to be addressed that could help increase team performance.

Contact us today to learn more about our modern approach to performance management and development that actually improves the manager and employee relationship. Don’t just take our word for it, see what our Customers have to say.