So, you’re designing your new employee performance management process and you’re wondering whether your should use numbers or words for your overall performance rating..
You might be considering a 3, 4 or 5 point scheme with “Outstanding” as the best performance and “Improvement Required” as the lowest.
Or perhaps rather than words, you might be thinking about numbers, e.g. 1 to 5 where 1 is the best performance and 5 the worst. Some people think that numbers are simpler than words, so gravitate towards this.
Well, we can answer the question for you: Don’t use numbers!
Let me tell you why. PerformanceHub has a great suite of analytical tools, one of which is called a “Rule Breakers Report”. This report will highlights managers who may have done a poor quality review. It works this out by comparing different aspects of an employee’s appraisal to see if they align.
PerformanceHub has analysed tens of thousands of appraisals, over many years and what we have found is that if you use numbers rather than words, around 10% of managers give an overall rating that’s the total opposite to what they intended!
Our working theory as to why this happens is that some people see a 1 and think “That must be the best rating” – like coming first in a race. Whereas some people see the 1 and think “that’s the worst rating” – like getting a low score in a game. Even with clear guidance as to which number to choose, people just follow their engrained thought pattern. With words, yous simply don’t have this issue.