Contrast effect: Comparing one employee with another, rather than against performance benchmarks or other criteria

Halo (or horn) effect: Allowing performance in one or two areas to color the overall review unfairly

Similar-to-me effect: Being more generous to those with similar backgrounds or beliefs

Central tendency: Giving everyone an average score regardless of performance

Leniency/desire to please: Granting a better review than warranted in order to avoid confrontation

Recency effect: Giving excessive weight to the most recent part of the evaluation period

First-impression bias: Allowing your initial judgments to color all subsequent information

Rater bias: Allowing personal biases to infect the evaluation


The Society for Human Resource Management ( offers members a tool kit (including sample policies and forms). Membership costs $160. Nonmembers can search for consultants at no charge.

Small Business Development Centers can refer you to local HR consultants. A directory of SBDCs is available at the U.S. Small Business Administration's website, at

WorldatWork ( offers salary information across a range of industries.