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Example Of Comparative Reports Gone Wrong

Subject AB is an insecure, unproductive manager. He picked Responders who were least likely to be critical of him. Because he inherited an excellent team from his predecessor, his people received a warm compliment from the CEO the day before they responded to the 360. And the weather was sunny that week. Those factors led them to rate AB positively.

On the other hand, Subject YZ is a fine leader and team-player, who consistently achieves better results than AB. He encourages his staff to tell him where he could improve as a manager. During a period of nasty weather, the Responders for YZ had just lost a couple of major contracts. They were temporarily feeling gloomy about themselves and their manager, and not afraid to say so.

So in their Comparative reports, inadequate AB slid easily into the 90th percentile, while excellent YZ was stuck in the 60th. AB received a bonus and YZ was reprimanded by the CEO. The "snapshot" effect distorted all comparisons.

Because individual assessments are not objective, Comparative reports never provide the complete story about any Subject. They should always be supplemented by a personal assessment of the Subject, particularly before making decisions that could have an impact on performance appraisal, compensation, ranking, or training.