Calibration at Reflektive: New Offering & Best Practices for HR Teams

Calibration. A big word for a complex process. 

Whether you’re aligning on performance reviews or selecting future company leaders, calibration is often an emotionally-charged term. Calibration has historically been a manual, frustrating process for all involved. And it often doesn’t accomplish its objectives — eliminating biases, addressing ratings inconsistencies across teams and managers, and adding clarity to talent management decisions.

For years, companies have either endured the time-consuming and sometimes ineffective process – or scrapped it all together.

It’s no wonder that calibration brings frustration and fear to mind — when was the last time a calibration session left you feeling empowered?

A New Start: Calibration in 2021

But what if we turned traditional calibration into a modern, data-driven process—one that not only saves time, but also incorporates multiple data sources to create a more complete, unbiased view of performance and talent? 

We’re excited to announce Reflektive Calibration is coming soon! 

This solution helps HR teams by:

  • Improving calibration quality with helpful information all in one place
  • Ensuring rating consistency and data integrity, so organizations can make the optimal talent management decisions
  • Saving time for HR professionals and managers, so they can focus on other strategic priorities

What makes our solution unique is that it incorporates employee feedback and recognition, so managers have a broader understanding of performance over time instead of anchoring on the most recent performance anecdotes. Reflektive Calibration supports annual, quarterly, monthly, and even on-demand calibration sessions. 

We’ve heard from several customers that they appreciate having one go-to place for all performance data. Specifically, they like being able to:

  • Visualize distributions for performance and talent ratings, including the 9-box grid
  • Have easy access to decisions and comments from calibration sessions

Our early adopters have also benefited from the solution’s ease of use and time savings. Per Taylor Orr, Learning & Org Development Program Manager at Dropbox, “The ROI of Reflektive Calibration is definitely there for me. With our previous manual process, I had to export all our data, blend it with demographic data, upload it into our calibration system, and export the results to be uploaded back into Reflektive. It was a massive effort, and a huge time drain. With Reflektive, I didn’t have to do manual work — instead I was able to spend more time enabling HRBPs to have successful calibration sessions.”

But technology alone can’t drive an improved calibration process — it takes effective leadership and communication to ensure that performance and talent planning are equitable. Below are some common questions we receive from customers, and the best ways to drive calibration forward.

Calibration FAQs

What does an ideal calibration process look like?

– Start with useful data from your performance reviews. To ensure that your reviews are providing valuable information, check out our Guide to Launching Reviews & Check-Ins.
– Determine calibration objectives (e.g., talent planning, deciding on promotions, assigning fair performance reviews)
– Prepare calibration data, such as review ratings, 9-box ratings, feedback, and recognition (Reflektive customers can easily add and manage calibration data in a customizable table!)
– Share data with calibration session participants. Ask participants to look for employee performance trends, and flag inconsistencies, prior to the calibration session.
– Determine number of calibration sessions needed based on number of managers and seniority
– Schedule calibration sessions for each division and level as needed. In email invite, remind attendees of:
– Objective(s) of calibration session
– Framework for how ratings should be determined

Calibration Session
– Recap objective and set ground rules
– Recap ratings framework
– Share-out ratings trends observed, as well as key areas that need to be addressed
– Discuss employee performance, including whether ratings should be modified
– Review each participant’s ratings distribution to see if it is “normal”. If ratings do not fall into a bell curve, discuss why not.
– Adjust ratings as needed

– Send a follow-up email communication with session participants
– Update records with calibrated values (this can be done in one click with Reflektive!)
– Use calibrated ratings as input for bonuses or other pay for performance systems, if applicable

It’s difficult for me to facilitate calibration sessions with so many different personalities in the meeting. Anything I can do to ensure that everyone has a voice?

– Ensure everyone is at the same level in the meeting, so participants will feel more comfortable speaking up
– Break up into smaller groups if meeting is too big, to give everyone a chance to speak
– Set ground rules, e.g., everyone will have a turn to speak and no one will be interrupted
– Set start time and end time to drive focus and completion of desired session goals

What tips do you recommend for remote calibration sessions?

– Select a time that works for everyone
– Ensure that your group is focused on only one objective (e.g., performance ratings or talent planning) to make the best usage of time / effort
– Prioritize discussion time on performance outliers — start with employees that scored very high or very low before moving to the middle
– Ensure that all participants have their completed assignment before the session
– Mute backgrounds so people can focus on the current speaker

What are the most common types of biases that managers display?

– Recency bias – focusing on recent performance rather than an employee’s performance over the longer-term
– Primacy bias – the opposite of recency bias — managers place a higher value on first impressions rather than overall performance
– Affinity bias – when managers have a more favorable view of employees with similar backgrounds to them
– Gender bias – when managers have a more favorable view of men versus women

How can companies identify and address these biases?

– Examine ratings distribution data to see if different employee demographics are more likely to receive high ratings or low ratings
– Educate managers and employees on different types of biases, and how biases manifest themselves
– Run pulse surveys to identify areas of opportunity at your workplace
– Identify biases in performance programs, and develop plans to remedy them. Common places for bias and best practices to address them are in this blog post.
– More ideas for detecting and defeating unconscious bias are available in this how-to guide

Interested in early access to Reflektive Calibration? If you’re already a Reflektive customer, reach out to your customer support team. If you’re not currently a Reflektive customer, schedule a chat with an expert.

Author: Marc Caltabiano, Chief Product Officer