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One of the things that most employees dread about the annual performance review is the feeling of unfairness in the employee ratings. Performance review calibration takes away the impression of having a biased or unjust review system by establishing a fair and equitable standard by which all employees are measured. Since promotions and other career decisions are based in part on the performance reviews of employees, it’s important that managers throughout an organization are viewed as being consistent and fair in how they evaluate employees. Performance review calibration does this. It eliminates the issue of one supervisor's “easy” rating system versus another supervisor's “difficult” rating system. Another issue that comes up is that employees feel they receive the same pay for the same job but have different performance expectations from different managers. All of this leads to distrust in the performance review process. Performance review calibration improves the consistency and provides a platform for overall “honesty and fairness” in the ratings system across an organization.

Calibration drives truth into performance reviews, creating a more honest appraisal of an employee’s work. It is a process in which multiple managers come together to discuss employees’ performance ratings thus ensuring an objective assessment is made based on past performance and in relation to other employees with similar job descriptions. The calibration process provides an opportunity for managers to learn to use the same language and share an understanding of the core competencies and expectations of employee behavior. So, not only does this process answer the employee’s question "How am I doing?" but it provides context by telling the employee how good a job he or she did compared with his or her peers.


Using performance calibration, managers can discuss how to apply similar standards for all employees and help eliminate any potential manager bias. For example, prior to using performance review calibrations, all employees working for one manager may receive “outstanding” ratings while employees working for another manager may receive a wide-variety of ratings—anything from “outstanding” to “meets expectations” to “below expectations” for the same job. The reviews between the two teams would need to be calibrated to take into account the different reviewing styles and get a better idea of who is really doing well and who is not. After implementing calibrations, these managers will hold each other accountable for their ratings and extremely hard and extremely easy reviewers will be brought into line with the rest of their peers for more honest and in-depth performance reviews.

Calibration allows you to find out who your real superstars are to allow you to develop them and reward appropriately. It is helpful when you are considering which employee holds the critical skills for a particular job. Calibration can identify a mentoring opportunity, triggering the manager to dig deeper into the source of the skill, and highlight growth opportunities.

Ultimately, performance review calibration provides benefits to employees, managers and executives alike. Employees appreciate the consistent standards of performance being applied to all individuals doing similar work, significantly reducing rating errors and personal biases. Managers take performance management very seriously due to the justification process to their peers during performance review calibration. Calibration processes even include an added benefit of coaching for the managers as well—peer managers discuss why some employees should receive training and development over financial compensation and, with HR involved, can coach the direct supervisor on how to discuss the situation with the employee. Additionally, executives benefit from being able to review the calibration metrics and learn how their mangers are developing and managing their resources.


When organizations use talent development as the main motivating factor when conducting performance review calibrations, the information provides leadership pipelines, development opportunities and a major strategic element in corporate planning. And, by providing honest and meaningful performance reviews through calibration, you will develop an engaged and productive workforce to drive your organization’s success to new levels.

About SAP SuccessFactors

SAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) Suite helps you completely reinvent the entire employee experience. You can shift from traditional HR transactions to engaging, end-to-end experiences, using intelligent technology to make each interaction simpler and more meaningful. And by linking employee feedback to operational data, you’ll understand what’s happening and why, so you can continuously deliver unexpectedly exceptional experiences that keep your business growing.

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