We are concerned that people who perform the same may get different ratings from different supervisors. How can we make sure that appraisers apply consistent standards across our organization?
The most effective way to make sure that consistent performance standards are being applied across an organization is to hold cross-calibration meetings. Appraisers first write their performance appraisals of their subordinates. Before reviewing the appraisals either with their bosses or with the individuals being appraised, they attend a crosscalibration meeting to compare their appraisals and ratings with other managers who supervise similar groups. After the meeting they make any revisions required.
In a typical cross-calibration meeting, a group of managers, all of whom supervise people doing similar jobs at similar levels, meet to go over the appraisals they have written. Each appraiser shares the appraisals she has prepared with the other meeting participants; she also reviews the ones that they have written. They discuss performance expectations and results. By comparing appraisals written by different appraisers, the likelihood of cross-department consistency goes up.
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Cross-calibration meetings are extremely beneficial in ensuring that appraisers from different parts of the organization are applying similar standards and that people performing at similar levels will receive similar performance (and salary increases).
Before the meeting, appraisers finish writing all of their appraisals. They then identify the individuals in their work group whom they consider to be ‘‘benchmarks.’’ Benchmarks are those employees whose performance is exactly described by one of the rating labels, whether that performance is superior, or fully successful, or unsatisfactory. They also determine the number of employees they have rated at each level of performance.
During the meeting various appraisers describe the performance of their benchmark employees. Other appraisers ask questions about how the performance rating was determined, what factors other appraisers took into consideration in deciding to rate an individual as needs improvement or superior or fully successful. By developing a common picture of the quality of performance at each level, appraisers are then able to make good judgments about how the performance of each person in their work group should be rated.
Appraisers also talk about performance rating challenges during these meetings. They have the opportunity to ask other raters how they would assess the performance of an individual who succeeded brilliantly in all areas except one, where that one area was a colossal failure. They can compare notes with each other to see if they are being too soft or too tough.
When they reach consensus on what quality of performance is represented by the different performance appraisal ratings, they then can revise the ratings of all of their employees to make sure that they are in line with the ratings for similar levels of performance in other departments of the company.
Another great benefit of conducting cross-calibration (or ‘‘raterreliability’’) meetings is that it gives appraisers the chance to get confirmation that a particularly poor rating is actually deserved. Then, when the manager is actually delivering the performance appraisal to the poor performer, she will be more confident that the low rating is accurate because it has been reviewed and confirmed by her peers.