The Halo or Horn effect is the positive or negative perception we have regarding some of the individuals who we interact with.  In management, it is the psychological tendency to always see an employee favorably (Halo) or unfavorably (Horn).  How are you viewing your employees, coworkers, or managers? 

The dangers with placing a Halo on an employee is that we can be blind to their mistakes, other employee’s label the Haloed employee as the “favorite,” or the employee can take advantage of their favored status.  All three issues can cause incredible conflict within an organization, but the first danger is the most overlooked.  If you believe (unintentionally or intentionally) that an employee can do no wrong, you are not able to assist that employee in reaching their potential.  To properly motivate an employee, you need to maintain a proper balance of praise and constructive criticism (i.e., train and correct).  If the employee doesn’t know what they are doing wrong, they will keep making the same mistakes.

On the flip side, we have the Horn effect where the employee has made your “naughty” list and cannot do right.  The feeling of never being good enough can cause a downward spiral for the employee because they have no hope.  This feeling can become exasperated if the employee’s coworkers start treating them as a “bad” employee.  Another issue that is commonly overlooked is when your management skills become suspect and your employees lose respect for you as a manager. This issue stems from people starting to recognize that you have put an employee into a potentially impossible situation and you are setting them up for failure no matter what they do.  Remember, as long as an employee is working for you, there is hope for success.

As humans, we view the world through our individual perceptions. These perceptions are built from our life experiences and education. The first step is to recognize how your own perceptions may be different from how others view the world. Recognizing that your own viewpoints are different could mean that you may not be treating those around you in a professional and fair manner. The second step is to break that cycle by seeking objective advice from someone who has no stake in the matter. Talk it out with them, share your evidence as to why that employee walks on water or is sinking. If you do come to the realization that you have been treating an employee unfairly, take the appropriate steps to correct your behavior such as apologizing to the employee, reassigning tasks, and taking the time to correctly motivate your employee.

Become familiar with your perceptions and viewpoints of the world around you are, then properly evaluate what needs to change.