Performance appraisals aren’t fun. They are supposed to be serious. But a lot of the time they are agonizing, because leaders, managers or the appraise (employee) in question do really dumb things, ending up destroying a process that is important to everyone (or should be).
I have been part of various appraisal meetings as a CEO since last 5 years and now have started observing interesting patterns which I would like to share.
First and Foremost. Let us all understand that getting promotions / hikes is a part of the routine appraisal for many but does it really expand someone’s scope or ability? Can the person or manager in question suddenly start performing as soon he is promoted.
Here are my top 4 observations.
1. Don’t please anyone
Appraisal is not about pleasing someone: I always see either the appraise or the manager is either trying pleasing or blame each other. I simply don’t understand this. You don’t work in an organization to please someone or the management. I find this working style to be very myopic and disheartening. You start once and you are stuck in a loop. Simply put, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials. Remember the art of pleasing is the art of deception.
2. Measuring or are you appraising the trivial
I sometimes find managers and appraise sleep through appraisal meetings. How stupid ?Also, I find it amusing to see that the meeting is like spending more time on performance appraisal than performance PLANNING. This is a serious lack on part of both the appraise and the manager. The worst thing on a manager’s part is to surprise employees during appraisal. Want to really waste your time and create bad performance? This is a guaranteed technique. Appraisals turn out to be dumb or a wasteful exercise if managers and appraise don’t genuinely communicate throughout the year or at least in the meeting. Before meetings it is ‘critical’ to prepare. Here are my suggestions:
- For appraise it is important to a) List down the work done in numbers b) Specific highs, lows and learning c) Future interests, constructive feedback for managers and management.
- For Managers to a) List down the positives of the performance and improvements b) Highlight interests / skills that h/she needs to be develop and how? c) Plan for appraise growth and how is the company helping him/her to achieve that.
3. Don’t encourage your reportee to be just be a law abiding professional
We don’t need to be law-abiding professionals but should always yearn to be creative and take initiatives. *Everything else will follow*. Managers / appraise needs to understand and that being in a reactive mode is obsolete if not suicidal these days. Be pro-active with everything. Managers need to understand a simple thing that rewarding the ones who follow your rules will not take you or your team member anywhere. Managers insist on evaluating the receptionist using these same tools and criterias as the designers / engineers in the office? It’s dumb. One size does not fit all. Actually why do managers do this? Mostly because the personnel or human resource office leans on them to do so. It’s almost understandable, but that doesn’t make it any less dumb.
4. They don’t have to think like you. Be dispassionate
Appraisal meetings have to be dispassionate. By dispassionate I mean looking at things objectively, with absolutely no pre conceived notions and absolutely no biases. Sometimes your reportee’s decision of doing something might displease you. If you take him/her to remand for that then the person will stop taking decisions. To rectify this damage is very difficult.
A leader need not agree with a junior’s decision. They are two different people and so may not see the same situation in the same way. But to imagine that the junior will think just like them is many a leader’s folly. And until the leader / manager realizes that to groom leaders he has to allow them to take decisions and stand by them, no matter what. This indicates trust. Only in trust does growth happen. It is important in appraisal meeting to talk about DECISIONS taken and NOT taken. The managers should assure that it is OK to make mistakes and it is important to learn from them. The reportees should also be fine with Manager’s mistakes and help them rectify. Mistakes are important to learn and grow. Also it is important for the appraise or everyone to understand that it is a knowledge economy today where intellectual and emotional decisions are critical.
Take appraisal as an opportunity to form a partnership between employee and his/er manager – It is much easy to blame the world. I see assumptions and perceptions as biggest problems in day-to-day functioning of companies. If there is a discontent we prefer gossiping over it or feeling disheartened but do not care to communicate with the person in question. ‘He said that’. ‘She accused me.’ ‘Why did h/she do that’? We over-think but not communicate. Post appraisal, the manager and the reportee should sit together and create a fresh job description together and discuss growth path.
As Om Malik says ‘Show up, work hard, and do everything right. Regardless of who you might be or what kind of job you may have.’
Recommended Read: The Only Metric That Matters In Your Team : DOSAY
About the Author: Rupesh Kumar Shah , cofounder of InOpen.in, a company which provides tailor-made solutions for teaching computer science to schools and students.
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