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Performance Appraisal : Mistakes To Avoid – Advices from a Singapore Job Consultancy

Don’t make these common mistakes when giving performance appraisals.

Performance Appraisal, Performance Review or Performance Evaluation. Based on decades of experiences as a Singapore job consultancy, no matter how prettily you package these words, most employees are likely to have the same reaction: nervousness and tension. Let’s be honest, even the managers and supervisors giving the appraisals dread it.

But companies still need to conduct them, usually on an annual or half-yearly basis. Performance appraisals help both the company and its employees to meet their goals. During the process, supervisor and subordinate come together to evaluate the employee’s job performance, productivity, accomplishments, and strengths and weaknesses against a pre-determined set of criteria.

Essentially, taking stock of the employee’s performance enables employers to know which employees deserve to be rewarded for their hard work, and which ones need a kick in the behind.

Through this assessment, both the appraiser and the employee also have the opportunity to give and receive valuable feedback, which sets the stage for improved performance in the future. It also helps the manager better plan the employee’s career path with the organisation.

If conducted well, performance appraisals can serve to motivate the employee, boost their enthusiasm for the job, and inspire them to work harder. But if done incorrectly, it can lower the employee’s morale or even result in the worker quitting the job altogether!

So if you’ve been tasked with conducting performance appraisals for your subordinates, here are some common mistakes you should be aware of in order to avoid them.

Halo/Horn Effect

In the context of a performance appraisal, the Halo Effect describes a situation in which the supervisor allows a highly favourable characteristic of the subordinate to affect their judgement of the person. For example, the supervisor gives Employee X a glowing appraisal because he is overly focused on the individual’s superb communication and presentation skills, while overlooking the fact that the employee often fails to meet his KPIs. Conversely, the Horn Effect occurs when the supervisor allows an extremely unfavourable characteristic of the employee to affect the entire evaluation. Managers should thus have greater self-awareness of the biases they may potentially have so that they take the whole picture into consideration and make a conscious effort to always be fair in their evaluations.

Central Tendency Error

Another common gaffe, Central Tendency Errors (CTEs) tend to occur when a manager needs to evaluate a large number of people. If the majority are assessed as average during the performance appraisal, there is a tendency for the manager to generalise and rate ALL employees as average, despite the fact that some employees may have put in greater effort and achieved extraordinary results. Knowing that CTEs exist, managers should pay more attention to ensuring that each employee is appraised on their individual merit and performance.


This cuts both ways – the supervisor can either favour a particular employee because he likes him, or be extra harsh in the performance appraisal if he dislikes the employee. Again, this occurs when the appraiser’s perception is marred by bias. So as the appraiser, make sure you have a strong sense of fairness. Be a beacon of justice and integrity – don’t overlook your favourite employee’s mistakes during the appraisal process and neither should you give your subordinate a poor review just because there’s something about him you don’t like. Performance appraisals should be precisely about performance.


There is a well-known saying that goes: Birds of a feather flock together. But guilt by association is a cardinal sin made by managers. Many supervisors may have a tendency to generalise members of a certain group and stereotype each individual based on the perceived characteristics of the group. This is detrimental to the performance appraisal process, as it may not provide an accurate assessment of those being appraised. Managers should thus make it a point to evaluate each employee as an individual, and not base their judgements on who the employee hangs around with.

Overemphasis on recent performance

Supervisors may tend to focus too much on the employees’ recent performance rather than on earlier events. It is, after all, human nature to be able to recall easily what is in our most recent memory. This leads to inaccurate and unfair assessments of employees. To circumvent this, managers should keep track of the employee’s performance at regular intervals throughout the year and not wait until the annual review to start evaluating the employee.

Learn about the various human resource development programmes we as a Singapore job consultancy can customise for your organisation through our HR Consulting services.