Help! My Rating Scale Has Fallen And It Can't Get Up!

The objective of any rating scale is obviously to accurately measure and track the success of whatever it is we’re rating. A lot of time and effort can go into picking just the right scale. That makes it all the more frustrating when all that work goes out the window and the scale becomes something it was never intended to be.


At Quix we believe we've remedied the issue of rating scale manipulation, but first let's look of some examples of where scales struggle with misuse today.


Anything less than perfect is a failure.


A number of services ask for customer satisfaction surveys at the conclusion of the work. When a company implemented this idea they no doubt were excited to get resulting metrics. Some even tie rewards to the outcomes of these surveys.


Where things go haywire on us is when we’re told anything less than a 10 out of 10 is a failing score. So now all we’ve got left is 10 and not 10, a 2 point scale. Misusing the scale to ONLY accept a perfect score is a perfect way to render a nice concept into something dramatically less insightful.


The 3 and 5 point performance scales that never match reality


This one is more an indictment of the scale not matching reality, but it still ends up with the scale being manipulated. 3 and 5 point rating scales are wildly popular in performance management systems, but when you try to rate your entire staff on a 1-3 scale, invariably almost everyone ends up as a 2. Since there’s an enormous difference between the worst 2 and the best 2, companies have no choice but to go outside the scale and start building things like 2- or 2+ or 3-. Similarly, 5 point scales end up with “high 3s” or “low 4s”.


All of this happens outside of any system so any distinction can’t be carried forward. When trying to use things like performance scores to assist with other processes like compensation planning, leadership development or succession planning, not having the necessary specificity needed to make distinctions leaves us with an unusable rating.


Why stick with something that people are knowingly modifying?


Ridesharing, where 90% of the scale gets you fired


Anyone who has used a ridesharing app knows at the end of the ride you rate your driver and your driver rates you. These all use a 1-5 rating scale.


But as anyone also knows 4s and 5s are all you see out there and anything below that means that either the ride or the passenger were a nightmare. As a result, the threshold of an acceptable rating for either driver or rider is 4.6. So just as these frequent ratings create an accurate picture over time of the person being rated - the manipulation of the rating scale limits us to a very small space in which to realistically operate.


What rideshare apps CAN do though that employee performance management systems have traditionally been unable to do is utilize decimals because they’re working with a much larger sample size (rideshare ratings are typically drawn from the 500 most recent rides) than just one or two ratings.


The point of this isn’t to say rating scales are bad and shouldn’t be used at all - we’ve covered previously that the idea of just eliminating performance ratings is akin to putting your head in the sand since it isn’t good for your business - at all.

The point is to say that when selecting a scale it’s important to find one and implement it in such a way that users won’t feel compelled to misuse.


This is exactly why Quix utilizes a 10 point rating scale and encourages companies to see a perfect 10 out of 10 as well beyond normal overall job performance - not as just an everyday acceptable score. A scale of this size allows companies to see distinctions between performances. There’s a difference between your 50th percentile employees and your 70th percentile employees and it’s important to know who those people are. Quix gives you that power.


Quix is a mobile-first application that allows employees and managers to quickly rate themselves and their direct reports up to twice per day. This allows companies to build a more nuanced, complete picture of employee performance over time, identifying high-performers, problem employees, potential management issues and even biases that would otherwise go unnoticed and unaddressed.


Request a demo to learn more!

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