The Maladies of the conscientious Rater

There is a performance rating scale everywhere.

Wherever there is a performance appraisal, 360 feedback or any employee evaluation.

Or, simply put, whenever any assessment or review of performance happens, there is a rating scale somewhere to be found.

In this article, we will explore the dilemmas of a rater — of course; the dilemmas are caused by the personality type.

In a world that we increasingly try to put a structure & order to, it’s the inherent disparity in our species that creates all the troubles.

And of course, the rating scale is a perfect tool to show how we are mostly chasing a chimera.

The Generous Giver & the Frugal Taker

In that personality “bell curve” of humans, there lies a small band where the people that form it have large hearts.

It is as if they exist to give only; to take seems too futile a purpose for existence.

That’s where the source of the trouble lies for them.

Given that they mostly deny themselves, these people will inherently rate themselves quite low on the rating scale.

Yes, modesty does play a role but mostly it is a focus on one’s own faults than what has been achieved. After all, what is achieved is gone.

On the other hand, their enormous ability to empathize with the existential troubles of fellow humans makes them partial raters.

They would tend to look away from others weaknesses and glorify their strengths; thus inevitably, the reviewees get to be rated quite generously.

What happens to them?

Mostly, they are taken advantage of by scheming individuals who know that it is easy to touch their hearts.

Since rat races do not make sense to them, these people generally belong to the “going nowhere” category & before time, they are eased out or quit.

The Frugal Giver & the Selfish Taker

Now, on the other end of this “bell curve”, there lies another small band where the people that form it are miserly to give but life-focussed on what’s in it for them.

Inherently, they are extremely selfish but quite like the other small band on the other side, they are not very nuanced in their methods that eventually get exposed.

Yes, they try to nitpick on other’s faults & weaknesses while hiding their own.

It is but natural to them to exaggerate & glorify their achievements, even though these may be trivial to the trained eye.

Thus, on self-ratings, they cannot look below the top-most rating points & sometimes wonder whether there could be a special rating that could be only made available to them.

On the other hand, their inability to be judicious makes them rate people lowly as if they don’t even deserve to be on that scale.

What happens to them?

Typically, they don’t get along with people, pick fights & eventually, they are sidelined or left out.

In a way, they don’t realize that their ultimate purpose of self-maximization got defeated by the inability to look beyond the self.

The Scheming Ones

All humans wear masks — they look exactly like us; so the external world can’t make out the real from the masked.

But there are some amongst us for whom these masks are ever changing depending on what a hidden grander purpose is at that point.

These are the scheming ones — it’s quite impossible to know which band on the bell curve they belong to as they are a floating tribe.

At any point, they can be as generous as a Saint & at another, as harmful as the bite of a rattlesnake.

A common reason for these unpredictable patterns in their behavior is an inherent flexibility in their value systems.

So, they may rate themselves low in case they know Managers prefer modesty in employees.

On the other hand, they may dole out generous ratings to an employee if they need to use them in the near future.

What happens to them?

In this long corporate journey through the unknowns, all of us eventually become scheming to an extent.

The fight for survival inherently requires flexibility in strategies.

Yes, they are survivors — some win, some lose. But they mostly survive the journey.

The Balanced Ones

This rare group is also an aspirational state for many of us, humans.

We all tend to admire that sense of balance when we can see it in people.

Typically, a balanced individual is neither too generous, nor stringent; neither selfish, nor selfless.

The balanced rater tends to be just. There is no false modesty; nor an overflow of empathy.

This gets reflected in their ratings too.

So, in a self evaluation, they will rate themselves high if they think they have done well as per the parameters of performance that were defined.

On the other hand, they will not step back from admitting a failure and rate themselves lower, if necessary.

This approach is also extended to their treatments of others ratings. They will not flinch from rating someone low, if it is so deserved.

No question of generosity — if the parameters of performance have been achieved — they will award high ratings too.

What happens to them?

These individuals typically become the leaders amongst us. Not always, but mostly.

The equanimity that they bring to the table is the most important quality that helps them manage the rest of us, belonging to the various bands of the personality spectrum.


Yes, indeed there are many types that make us.

Some are always asking -“What Is in It For Me”.

There are others who define their lives around various other short maxims that go around the corporate jungle like “Survival of the fittest”, “Differentiate or Die” etc.

On the other, there are others that are different and don’t assign as much importance to survival as the need to be simply, human.

Again, there are the ones that are balanced — shouldering responsibilities while exhibiting a rare sense of detachment and balance.

Surely, the rating scale is too simplistic a tool in the hands of such a complex organism i.e. Human being.

Originally published at on August 21, 2016.

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