June 26, 2023
5 min read

Calibration Review: How to Maximize Performance Review Accuracy

In this article:

85% of employees would consider quitting if they felt their performance review was unfair. But how do you make sure your performance appraisals are fair and unbiased? The answer is simple: by implementing a calibration review process.

Performance management calibration can help organizations improve the accuracy and consistency of evaluations. It leads to better outcomes for both employees and the organization.

In this article, we will explore how organizations can conduct a calibration review process to maximize performance review accuracy and improve employee engagement and productivity.

What is a performance calibration review?

A performance calibration review is a process that organizations use to ensure that their performance evaluation system is fair, accurate, and consistent across different departments, teams, and employees. 

The review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the organization's performance management system, identify areas for improvement, and calibrate employee scores to ensure consistency and fairness.

Performance review template

During performance review calibrations, managers and supervisors come together to discuss and compare the performance of their employees, using data from performance evaluations, 360-degree feedback, and other sources. 

The review process typically involves:

  • Discussions around the criteria used to evaluate performance
  • The weighting of different performance factors
  • The interpretation of ratings
  • The calibration of scores

Why should you conduct a calibration review?

The goal is to identify any inconsistencies or biases in the evaluations and adjust ratings to accurately reflect each employee's performance.

By conducting regular performance calibration reviews, organizations can improve the accuracy and fairness of their performance evaluation system, which can lead to better employee engagement, motivation, and productivity. Performance calibrations also build employee trust and help ensure that high performers are adequately rewarded.

How to conduct a calibration review

Here are some tips on how to calibrate a performance review:

Choose a rating system

star rating performance calibration review

Image source: Freepik

The first step is to choose a rating scale by which managers assess employees. A five-point scale is standard since it's large enough to reflect some nuances but doesn't have too many rating levels that would make the system overly complex.

Define what each rating number means

The next step is to assign descriptive ratings to each numeric value you will use in the performance review calibration process. It helps managers better comprehend the meaning of each rating. 

For instance, you could assign the subsequent descriptions to every numeric value in the scoring system:

5 – “Exceeds expectations”

4 – “Meets expectations”

3 – "Partially meets expectations"

2 – “Needs improvement”

1 – “Unsatisfactory”

Use precise terms and avoid general language like "good" or "average." Such labels are open to interpretation. It may result in managers using personal judgment to determine their scoring.

Conduct one-on-one meetings with reviewers or create a calibration committee

Schedule one-on-one meetings with each reviewer to discuss their evaluations and ensure their ratings are consistent with the established criteria and guidelines. Discuss any disagreement or inconsistency in ratings and work collaboratively with the reviewer to adjust the ratings as necessary.

Alternatively, you can form a calibration committee of representatives from different departments or functional areas. Review and discuss evaluations for each employee to ensure that ratings are consistent across departments and functional areas. 

Adjust performance ratings

Ensure that ratings are fair and uniform across employees and teams. Carefully review all data available for each employee, including performance metrics, customer and peer feedback, and any other relevant information. 

Analyze the reasons for discrepancies and identify any biases or other factors influencing ratings. For example, a manager may have an unconscious bias toward certain employees or specific teams may be working on more visible projects. 

Document any adjustments made to ratings and the reasons for those adjustments. It can help to ensure transparency and fairness in the calibration review process.

Share the calibrated ratings and feedback with employees

The final stage in the calibration review cycle is to share calibrated scores and feedback with employees. It helps them understand how you evaluated their performance and provides them with actionable tips for improvement.

Schedule a performance calibration meeting with each employee to discuss their calibrated ratings and feedback. It will allow employees to ask questions and help them understand the appraisal process.

Remember to provide an overview of the calibration process and explain how you calibrated the ratings to help employees understand the mechanics behind the performance review cycle and ensure that the ratings are consistent and treated fairly.

Calibration review: Best practices

people, infographics, performance calibration review

Image source: Freepik

Here are some best practices to follow when conducting a calibration review:

  1. Separate performance and compensation discussions. It can help ensure that performance evaluations are conducted objectively and without bias and that employees feel comfortable discussing their performance without feeling pressured or influenced by compensation-related discussions.
  2. Gather data from multiple sources, including performance metrics, feedback from peers and customers, and other relevant information, to ensure that performance evaluations are based on a comprehensive assessment of an employee's performance.
  3. Use a calibration process to ensure performance appraisal ratings are consistent and fair across different teams and departments. It can help identify and eliminate biases and make sure ratings are based on the same standards.
  4. Share calibrated ratings and feedback with employees in a transparent and supportive manner, providing specific examples of strengths and areas for improvement.
  5. Follow up with employees regularly to track progress against their action plans, motivate employees, and provide ongoing feedback and support.


Conducting a performance calibration process can be a powerful tool for organizations to guarantee that their performance evaluations are accurate, fair, and consistent. It can lead to greater employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.

As organizations face the challenges of attracting and retaining top talent, implementing a calibration review process can be a crucial strategy for improving employee performance, professional development, and achieving long-term success.


What is a calibration meeting?

A calibration meeting is a performance review meeting in which managers and evaluators come together to review and discuss employee performance evaluations, ratings, and feedback to ensure consistency and fairness across the organization.

A calibration meeting aims to align ratings and feedback across teams and departments, eliminate biases, and ensure performance reviews are based on objective standards.

During performance review calibration meetings, evaluators can discuss their ratings and provide justifications for their assessments, review employee performance data, and identify areas for improvement in the performance review process.

How do you conduct a calibration meeting?

Here are some steps for conducting a performance review calibration meeting:

  • Set clear objective
  • Invite the right participants
  • Share evaluation data
  • Establish clear evaluation criteria
  • Conduct group reviews
  • Address biases and inconsistencies
  • Reach a consensus
  • Document the results
  • Follow up

What is calibration in talent management?

Calibration in talent management is a process of reviewing and aligning performance ratings and evaluations across departments, managers, and evaluators to guarantee consistency and fairness.

Calibration sessions involve managers and evaluators discussing and comparing employee performance evaluations to eliminate potential biases and warrant that performance standards align with the organization's goals and objectives.

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