How The Halo Effect Tricks Managers

We all have perceptions about people and having a management job is no different – we have differing views about the staff we manage because they are all unique individuals with a range of personalities and approaches to task completion and social interaction.

We need to be fully aware of the Halo Effect and how this can cloud our judgements.

The Halo effect is the process by which the perception of a person is based upon a single, or series of, favourable or unfavourable events, impressions or traits. The problem with the Halo Effect is that it tends to shut out other relevant characteristics of that person, making a sound and equitable judgement impossible.

Examples of the Halo Effect in everyday managerial life can include:

  • An interview candidate who arrives early, is smartly dressed and friendly will create a strong, positive impression and will influence the perception of the interview panel who may then place less emphasis upon the applicant’s technical ability, qualifications or experience relevant to the job on offer
  • A new team member who performs very well in their first big assignment can be perceived as a candidate likely for promotion in due course. This assignment may not, however, be typical of their usual standard of work or of their normal duties
  • A single trait such as good attendance and timekeeping may become the main emphasis for decision making on that person’s overall competence in the job role rather than more stringent and meaningful measures of performance e.g. quality, quantity and accuracy of work being produced

The danger with the Halo Effect is that where quick judgements are made regarding performance on the basis of readily available stimuli, the perceiver can become blind to subsequent and more important measures of performance which will be at odds with the original perception.

The trick here is to be ruthlessly honest with yourself and to really identify the basis for forming perceptions and opinions about staff members – doing this will allow you to make more informed, balanced and measured decisions about a whole range of operational decisions and which will, ultimately, make better, more effective and efficient decisions that benefit the organisation.

Good Luck!

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