Rating Game

Share And Share Alike?

Should you be privy to the ratings workers get? In some companies, bosses automatically get copies. In others, it's the employee's choice to share the feedback with the boss. The experts' strong recommendation: "The report should go only to the employee. Let him choose how much to share," says Mount.

"Co-workers can be paranoid about giving feedback, and if they know it goes only to the employee, it increases their honesty," adds Knudson.

More expert advice: Don't link feedback to pay raises. Granted, it seems an easy way to handle compensation, but taking this route could land you in trouble. "Some corporate legal departments are skittish about even trying this. Multirater feedback provides perceptions, not facts. It's important not to forget that," says Gebelein.

There's a benefit, too, in separating multirater feedback from pay, says Gebelein. "When it is used for raises, people tend to become protective of each other," he says. "Ratings tend to be higher. When it is decoupled, the process [generally] produces honest feedback."

Not all the feedback will be accurate--and workers need to be told that before getting their results--but much of it will be on the mark. And, when multirater feedback is used as a tool to help employees develop, "it provides a valuable vehicle for communication. It helps people talk to one another in ways they otherwise never do and about issues they otherwise never discuss," says Gebelein. "It can become a life-changing experience."

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This article was originally published in the December 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Rating Game.

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