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Calibration in performance reviews

When using performance ratings for employees, it’s important to apply consistent standards across the organization. A common practice to achieve this is to calibrate and adjust ratings based on conversations between different managers and HR. Small Improvements gives you a few ways to handle this process. 

Creating a Calibration Review

You’ll select the Calibration option when starting a new review cycle:

The setup of cycle participantsnaming, and the sharing process are the same as in a regular cycle.

The questionnaire in a Calibration Review

The questionnaire will include a Pre-Calibrated Overall Rating for managers. This allows your managers to enter their initial rating for employees. Once the HR team has analyzed the Overall Ratings entered by the managers, they can make adjustments, and finalize the Overall Ratings. More on that below.

You can disable the pre-calibrated rating if you prefer. Click the Pencil icon to edit:

Dates in a Calibration Review

In a Calibration Review, you restrict the date from which the manager can share their side of the review, and also when the overall ratings can be locked down. This allows you time to evaluate the managers’ reviews to ensure they conform to company standards.

  • Cycle Starts: The first day people can begin working on their assessments. You can set this for a date in the future and have the kick-off email sent automatically.
  • Deadline for reviewees: The last date for employees to share their self-assessment. This is the same as in a non-calibration cycle.
    The Grace Period is an optional extension for employees to grant more time, not shown as a date to employees directly.
  • Deadline for reviewers to write: The last date reviewers can add or edit content in their assessments.
    If you are using the “Finished Writing” indicator, set up in the Sharing Process section, you can choose to notify the reviewees’ indirect managers, the HR team, or both.
  • Calibration Period: This is the time after the deadline to write content and before the first date that managers can share. HR Admins evaluate the reviewers’ content during this period and make suggestions or adjustments.

    You can choose to allow managers to adjust the overall rating during this period or lock that down as well.

    The Calibration Period begins immediately after the deadline for reviewers and extends until the Sharing period begins. You won’t be able to add gaps in the dates in your Timeline.
  • Reviewers share and revision: When the calibration period is over, your managers can share their assessments. You can also allow them to edit the content of their reviews and change the overall ratings for their employees.

    The HR team can update the overall ratings in bulk (see below). If you are doing so, you may want to disable the manager’s ability to edit the overall ratings during this time.

    The Grace Period is an optional extension for employees to grant more time, not shown as a date to employees directly.
  • Everyone should sign by: This date applies to both reviewers and reviewees. It’s the deadline for signing their reviews.

Note that the time set in these deadlines is the default end of the business day. You can adjust that by clicking Settings > Date and Time.

What the manager sees

When writing the review, the manager will see two Overall Rating fields. Only the Pre-Calibrated Rating is editable before the ‘Deadline for reviewers to write’.

Analyzing Pre-Calibrated Ratings

You’ll find the Overall Ratings listed in the Calibration tab:

You can sort this list by reviewee, by reviewer, by self-rating, or by the Pre- and Post-Calibrated Rating. This allows you to see how managers are rating their employees, and who is giving the highest and lowest ratings.

Use the “Export for Calibration” button to create a CSV file to analyze in a spreadsheet program. This works just like the cycle export, which means you can filter for a specific department, team, location, or manager.

You can also filter for specific columns. The settings above will create a file limited to the employee’s name and email, the reviewer’s name, and both the Pre-Calibrated and Overall Rating.

You can use the exported file to update the Calibrated Ratings through import, so do include both Overall Rating fields.

If you’d like to sort by the reviewee’s gender, department, location, etc, go ahead and include those columns.

Note that large exports can take some time to compile!

Updating Calibrated Ratings

You can adjust the rating right from the Calibration tab. This works great if you have a small cycle.

If you have a lot of participants, it’s easier to use the Import option. You can use the file you exported!

Enter the new rating in the Reviewer Overall Rating column and save.

Click the Import Calibration button then drop and drag your file.

Review the information on the confirmation screen before clicking the “Change Ratings” button. The confirmation screen tells you how many ratings will change, how many will remain the same, and whether there are any issues with the imported ratings. Confirm twice to complete the import.

Note that the import file will overwrite any adjustments you made manually. After the file is imported, you can make further manual adjustments.

Limitations to calibration updates

There are certain conditions that prevent you from adding a final, calibrated rating.

  • Hierarchy in Rating Assignment: You cannot adjust the ratings of someone in your management chain. You also cannot adjust your own manager-assigned overall rating.
  • Timeline constraints: If your Timeline does not allow managers to update Overall Ratings, an HR Admin cannot adjust the rating for their reports once the calibration period begins.
  • Signed reviews: When a review has been signed by either party, you cannot change the Overall Rating. Revoke the signatures to proceed.

Templates for importing ratings

If you didn’t make an export of your cycle, you can use one of these template files to update Calibrated Rating. You’ll just need to fill in the employee’s email address and the new rating.

Updated on January 2, 2024

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