'Supervisor bias': Why your organisation's performance review needs a review

Leader discrimination likely impacting career advancement: report

'Supervisor bias': Why your organisation's performance review needs a review

Minority groups are reporting that they are victims of "supervisor bias", with their performance reviews taking a direct hit from the behaviour.

A new survey by Syndio among over 1,000 full-time employees revealed that 25% feel their performance reviews were negatively impacted by their supervisor's personal biases.

Asian employees were 54% more likely to report that their performance reviews were negatively influenced by biases than their white colleagues.

Employees who belong to the LGBTQ+ community were also 35% more likely to report they were victims of biases during performance reviews.

Lack of transparency

Employees in the report are also calling out the lack of transparency surrounding promotions and career advancement within their organisations.

Nearly half (43%) of the non-management respondents said their organisations aren't being transparent enough when it comes to the decisions that lead to promotions. A portion (36%) of respondents in management and leadership roles also agreed with this sentiment.

The lack of transparency comes as 60% of organisations were found to be extremely reliant on the status quo annual performance review process, with enterprise organisations most likely to stick to one-time annual reviews.

Fighting supervisor bias

Katie Bardaro, labour economist and Syndio's Chief Customer Officer, said the findings underscore that the "old playbook for anti-bias training" does not work.

"Leaders and managers are human beings, and bias creeps into their decision making," Bardaro said in a statement.

To address the issue, the report suggested more frequent check-ins to lower employees' fears of bias when it comes to career advancement.

According to the report, organisations that carried out two or more performance check-ins reduced concerns of supervisor bias and provided employees with more clarity on advancement opportunities.

Karen Gately, leadership expert and HR consultant at Corporate Dojo, previously stressed that performance reviews should be one part of an ongoing process of feedback and development.

"If there are regular conversations happening, then there shouldn't be any surprises when the annual performance review comes around," Gately previously told HRD.

Meanwhile, Bardaro added that companies also need to pair leadership training with data analytics to "better understand what's driving and stopping people movement."

"Leaders need to use data to empower changes within their organisations, from promoting more diverse talent to rooting out managers who cannot overcome their biases," Bardaro said.

"This is another moment for HR leaders to seize the technological changes coming to their functions to drive meaningful change they know will create more diverse and better performing companies."

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