Personal Styles That Bias Performance Reviews.

Performance reviews, one of the most dreaded managerial responsibilities, are difficult enough to do without personal bias getting in the way. What follows are highlights about how your personal style, identified using the DISC behavioral model, might get in the way of effectively managing your employees.

DISC Personality and Behavior Assessment Profile

“D”s prefer to evaluate others by how well they meet the standards and challenges set forth by the “D.” The amount of work accomplished by others must meet the “D’s” expectations. They tend to set demanding standards for themselves and will seek out who do likewise. However, they will become impatient when employees don’t do what was expected and even more competitive when people surpass them. They tend to set stretch goals. When an employee isn’t doing well, high “D”s don’t have much problem relaying bad news and discipline. But their sometimes abrupt, just-get-it-over-with behavior comes off as confrontational, more than constructive feedback, even when what they had to say needed to be said. You’ll often hear others say, “I agree with what he said, but not how he said it.” Some high “D”s may even send a memo or email telling an employee they’re not pulling their weight or even that they’re fired. Positive perfomance evaluations are based on results, not the details. Coaching will be limited to “just go do it and keep me posted.”

“I”s tend to evaluate other by how well they verabilze feeling. They see performance reviews more as a time to look talk about doing better than a time to confront underperformance. High “I”s prefer a face to face meeting, often times in a casual setting. They may even schedule a difficult meeting over lunch. Telling an employee bad news is extremely difficult for the high “I”; they may tend to beat around the bush before telling an employee what needs to be said. High “I”s tend to set optimistic goals, even unrealistic, because it never hurts to dream. While other high “I”s might enjoy their cordial presentation and letting under-performing employees down easy, other behavioral styles will likely be thinking, “why don’t you just say it and stop talking already?” High “I”s are great coaches if you believe inspiration and motivation can change behavior. But most coaching sessions will be more talk than action, with the coach doing most of the talking.

If any style is challenged by performance reviews, it’s the high “S”. Performance reviews are truly times to acknowledge contributions of the employee and identify areas of improvement. High “S”s will likely be the most lenient managers. They prefer stability to change. Discplining or terminating an employee is very stressful and requires change if the employee leaves or needs to be replaced. The high “S” may not sleep well the night before an evaluation and is especially drained after the meeting. They will bend over backwards to accomodate under-performance, and hope the employee will quit before they have to confront them. High “S”s tend to set realistic goals – why set goals you can’t reach, it’s risky, confrontational and demoralizing. High “S”s are the very best listeners and natural coaches of all the styles.

For the high “C”, performance evaluations are rather “matter of fact.” Their reviews are well-documented, detailed, and critical but objective. Results, accuracy, and cognition get high ratings. If the top rating is a 5 for outstanding performance, high “C”s rarely give higher than a “4” – “there is always room for improvement”, they think. Goals are specific and measurable with exact milestones. They will be realistic and at least in the high “C”s mind, attainable. High “C”s set a very high standard and how you reach your goals is just as important as getting the result. Ongoing feedback will be rare but when provided, the high “C” will consider it constructive. Unfortunately the recipients might perceive it as critical

Understanding how your personal style might bias your judgment of employee behavior begins with a DISC self-assessment. For more information about the DISC personality test profile, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.