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Contrast Effect: Do You See It As A Danger?

Picture this – You’ve been performing decently well all throughout the year and are hopeful for a good performance rating during the appraisal process. You’re sure that you’ve impressed your manager and all you got to do now is, wait to hear the good news.

But what you don’t know is the fact that the new chap who joined your team has outdone all other employees with his skills. He has set new standards for the entire team and is now the Godchild of your manager. Bottom line: you’re in trouble!

One must wonder, “What do someone else’s strengths have to do anything with my performance review?”  Well, I must say “Loads!” Let me introduce you to the term that takes away all that you feel you deserve in life – “The Contrast Effect!”


To know about various other problems that people face with performance appraisals, check out:

Top 50 Problems people face with Performance Appraisals


From the time we open our eyes on Earth to the day we close them forever, we are always compared with others around, to establish our actual value. Whether it’s your character in comparison to that of your sibling, marks scored by you as to your schoolmates, or your performance at a job interview, decisions are always made based on a comparative study. Are you better than others or vice versa?

The same phenomenon comes into the picture while undergoing a performance appraisal at the workplace. The manager reviews and rates your performance relative to others on the team with similar roles and responsibilities. Hence, the standard of performance isn’t fixed but varies based on the potential of the employees in the organization. Usually, this is considered as one of the errors in an appraisal process. But is it really?

Let’s go through the scenarios that could be considered as the pros and cons of this “Contrast Effect”:

Cons: If a person is better than others around, yet is not up to the standards fixed by the company, he/she should not be rated well on the competencies. However, it is mostly seen that quite the opposite happens and the best among them all is given a better rating. I would consider this as a negative effect.

Pros: On the other hand, if a person has surpassed the company standards due to his/her skills, it’s a sign for the company to up their standards to match the team’s potential. This would be seen as a positive effect and perhaps a motivation to the entire organization.

How can a performance appraisal tool help?

Well, although this is a psychological phenomenon, using performance management automation software can help, to a certain degree. Here’s discussing a few of the possibilities:

  • Goals Management – With this feature, you could update the goals for all the employees time and again. This will keep them on their toes, ensuring optimal results all the time.
  • Continuous Feedback – Through this feature, you could provide your inputs on a regular basis, and keep your subordinates up-to-date with your expectations as per the new standards. This will ensure that they are aware of what is required from them, in order to be on par with the best.
  • Rewards – For those who seem to be doing the best so far, you need to reward them in some manner to show your appreciation. Not only does this motivate the awardee, but also encourages others to learn and come into their own, resulting in the best!


To drive performance appraisals in the best manner, you could explore this:

Best Practices to Follow For A Breakthrough in Performance Appraisal!


As we all have seen, with time automation is helping organizations reach greater places. There might be a time where much more could be offered by performance management tools. Let’s all hope for that day to come soon!

To know more about our employee performance software, you could take a free test drive and experience the power of automation.

Test Drive Synergita

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