Grote Consulting's Services

We can help you assure there’s a level playing field for everyone.


One of the toughest issues in performance management is making sure that ratings are fair. Controlling for the variations in expectations from one manager to another. Guaranteeing that there’s a level playing field.

We remember from our school days that it was harder to get a “B” from Professor Jones than an “A” from Professor Smith. It’s true in organizations, too. What one supervisor considers exceptional work, another will evaluate as only routine. When performance appraisal time rolls around, the employees of the first boss are likely to get higher ratings (and higher merit increases) than those of the second boss, even though the first group’s work is no better.

A Level Playing Field

calibration-employee-collageTo solve this unfairness problem, companies are creating “rater reliability,” or “cross-calibration,” or “leveling” mechanisms as part of their performance appraisal process. Performance calibration makes sure that different appraisers apply similar standards in assessing the performance of their subordinates. It helps drive the truth into the process.

The procedure’s operation is straightforward: Managers compare their expectations and standards and planned appraisal ratings with each other before those ratings become official. When everyone has come to agreement on the appropriate performance appraisal ratings for all the individuals under review, only then do the managers prepare their final performance appraisals.

Benefits and Concerns

The advantages of incorporating a calibration procedure as part of an organization’s overall performance appraisal system are clear: Consistent standards of performance are applied to all individuals doing similar work. Rating errors are reduced. Managers take performance management much more seriously since they now have to justify their planned ratings to their peers. Legal defensibility goes up.

But there are some real concerns with installing a formal calibration procedure, too. Some managers may resist having to defend their performance appraisal ratings to their peers. Employees may feel that their privacy is compromised. Managers may blame the procedure for forcing them to deliver lower-than-expected ratings to subordinates.

We Can Help

Dick Grote is one of America’s most knowledgeable and experienced authorites on designing and using calibration sessions. He can give you all the information you need to decide whether this approach is right for your organization. He can help you get all the mechanics right, communicate the system’s operation to everyone who’s affected by it, and train your managers and calibration session facilitators.

We can help you assure there’s a level playing field for everyone.


Contact us for more information and to find out how we can help solve your specific calibration challenges.