When managing your staff, the big question becomes, “Are my impressions correct?” If you’re guided by overly rash or unfair judgments, then you may promote the wrong people and wind up with a dispirited team.
Always run your evaluations through a battery of objective measures before you render a conclusion about an employee’s ability. Don’t rush to express a judgment or make sweeping statements such as “She’s never wrong.” You’ll have more confidence in your assessments of others if you apply the same rigorous standards to everyone.
Use these techniques to evaluate the work product of employees in a fair, consistent manner:
Fight first impressions. Avoid letting initial judgments cloud your subsequent opinions of an individual’s performance. It takes discipline and open-mindedness to acknowledge that your first gut instinct about someone (“He’s a workaholic dynamo”) was wrong (“He’s too deliberate and afraid to make mistakes”).
“I used to pride myself on making snap judgments about people,” said a senior manager. “I’ve found that I’d rather be proud of my willingness to be proven wrong over time, to admit privately that my first impressions are subject to change.”
Adopt “anonymous analysis.” Some managers don’t examine a star’s work with the same critical eye that they reserve for others. That’s fine—to a point. Just be careful that you’re not overestimating your “star” and selling everyone else short.
To confirm that you’re not playing favorites, examine work product independent of the worker. Experiment with projects where you use anonymous measures to determine how well your employees performed. For example, have each employee turn in a report or make recommendations. Have a secretary delete all names so that you don’t know what wrote what. This forces you to judge the merits of the message, without considering the reputation of the messenger.
Separate personality from results. Just because you like someone doesn’t make them a stronger or more intelligent worker. Indeed, one of your stellar performers might have a prickly personality. When expressing opinions about your employees’ competencies, don’t let yourself be unduly influenced by your personal biases. While a genial worker has a leg up on a scowling screamer, the less pleasant individual may bring certain skills or talents to the job that few others possess.