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What is the recency effect and how does it affect performance appraisals?

by , 09 July 2014
Have you ever heard of something called, 'the recency effect' or 'recency bias'? And do you know how it affects performance appraisals?

If not, continue reading to find out exactly what the recency effect is and its impact when it comes to performance appraisals so you can effectively assess your employees' performance in your workplace.

Here's what you need to know about the recency effect and how it affects performance appraisals

According to bersin.com, the recency effect is the tendency to assess people based on recent activities and behaviours and failing to consider activities and behaviour that are several months or more in the past.

According to the site, it tends to creep up when it comes to annual performance appraisals, versus more frequent appraisals.

In this article, we explain that, 'when conducting performance appraisals, some managers seem to have no memory, so they only base their opinions on the most recent events and opinions from others to form their opinion on what's happening.'

So if you're overly focussed on the most recent event as the basis for analysing the entire past year's performance, you're guilty of the recency effect.

Is there a way to overcome the recency effect?

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Yes, you can avoid falling into the recency effect when it comes to performance appraisals

If, for example, your employee makes a mistake closer to the review, don't let that mistake become the entire topic of your performance appraisal. If you do, it means you're ignoring the rest of the great things he's done. As a result, your assessment could be flawed.

Overall, the Performance Management Help Centre says, 'if the desire is to improve productivity, it's useful to discuss past problems to try to ensure they don't re-occur.'

Now that you know all about the recency effect and how it affects performance appraisals, make sure you effectively assess employee performance in your workplace.

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