How Calibration Meetings Introduce Bias into Performance Reviews | Harvard Business Review

Talent Management

One of the primary goals of performance management (PM) is to provide unbiased and objective performance feedback and evaluations. Nonetheless, PM remains imperfect and vulnerable to bias. To address biases that could impact managers’ accurate assessment of their direct reports’ performance, many organizations conduct PM calibration meetings. During these sessions, managers and leaders discuss employee performance using formal ratings or similar criteria aligned with established standards. However, the effectiveness of these meetings varies depending on their structure and management. Research referenced in this new HBR article shows that while PM calibration discussions help reduce specific biases, they can inadvertently introduce others into the evaluation process. One issue highlighted is how unstructured meetings might result in time-based biases, where certain groups receive extensive discussion time while others don’t due to time constraints. The article proposes strategies to mitigate biases during these sessions. For another resource on this topic, check out Marc Effron’s article, How to Crush Bias in Performance Management. Marc provides valuable insights into enhancing the effectiveness of PM calibration sessions and suggests tactics for minimizing biases in other parts of the PM process, such as goal setting (e.g., using a process to ensure that goals are set at a consistent level of challenge within a function or group.)