Performance Rating Scales

We are looking to revamp our performance management approach and discussing our current rating scale. 2 questions:

  1. Keep the rating scale or not? Would love to hear if anyone is not using a rating scale and if you find that successful?
  2. What type of rating scale do you use/find effective? We currently use a 5 level scale and are considering going to a 3 or 4 level scale. Would love to hear what others are doing with success.

Thanks in advance!

Hello, over the years i am seeing performance reviews becoming more “human”. My question would be how can you follow along or lead in this direction as it will only become more common in the future.

A good read is this

Atlassian are using “good year” “great year” and “off year”

At my company we are using “on track” “Ahead track” and “behind track”. It’s the second year and the response has been good among employees.

The problem with a number system is the constant desire in the human psych to go ‘up’ the scale, to get a better score, to be better, to compare against others, to measure ones worth against others worth using those numbers. The reality is, to be a successful company, we really need a whole bunch of people performing their roles really well, essentially in the middle of the scale “on track” or “good year”. If we give those people a 2 or a 3 or a 4 then they will always come out feeling a little worse. Changing to a verbal language (human) scale allows us to celebrate the “on track”. Celebrate the humans making our company great.

best wishes with your journey!

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I love the Atlassian post! It really resonated for me in how they are thinking about people in their updated review process.

For our most recent performance reviews we didn’t use a rating scale, but instead asked managers to indicate whether the person was ready for a promotion (to the next level) or progression (within their level).

However, we’re looking at creating a measure of high performance moving forward. Here are some key things we’re considering:

  1. Biases: those that particularly affect the accuracy and fairness of rating scales are Centrality Bias (tendency to rate people in the middle) and Leniency Bias (tendency to rate people more highly). On a 5 point rating scale, most people tend to get rated a 4 or 5. One way to alleviate this is to use this scale: 1 - Below Average, 2 - Average, 3 - Above Average, 4 - Exceptional, 5 - Sets a new Standard.

  2. Transparency: we are working hard to be transparent about how we assess performance. We hold ourselves to be transparent even over being comfortable, which can be challenging! However, this is really important to ensure that people feel that how we assess performance is fair, and that will be even more critical when they know they are being rated.

  3. Questions: rather than just asking managers to rate a person overall, we’re looking into using a combination of questions to dig into their intentions, for example:
    I would always want this person on my team.
    This person is ready for promotion today.

This blog post also has some great tips:

Also, if you haven’t already read this eBook, it’s worth a go!

It’s difficult to give good advice on the mechanics of the tool without knowing what it’s being used for.
I’m a strong proponent of removing ratings for the reasons mentioned above, as well as add’l ones outlined here (also the likely origin of the last two questions in the previous post).
But it’s easier said than done. Often times the performance review process is being used to support other organizational needs and decision-making processes such as promotions, merit increases and addressing performance issues.
To remove ratings, you first have to eliminate any dependencies on ratings, by defining alternative ways in which those organizational needs will be addressed.