Thursday, September 25, 2008

Appraisal Reviews- Should they impact what you are?

I always appreciate a strong performance appraisal processes managed in the Organizations. I believe they are the yardsticks that measure the performance of a person during the appraisal period. Having had an opportunity to review performance of the team who reported to me and also every year getting reviewed by my respective managers, I felt I should write my opinion on this that can help my readers with one focus- do not get impacted by the outcome. In fact, I was a trained performance reviewer where I attended a 2 day workshop in Courtyard Marriott in 2005, conducted by National Institute of Sales, India sponsored by previous company.
I think this training helped me at times when I faced disappointment after I was reviewed. Do not wonder, how can an consistent performance award winner be talking about an appraisal review disappointment. It happens. It happens because of various reasons, sometimes explicit and sometimes implied. It also can be because your expectations are higher than what is possible to your managers during that period. I am not trying to be modest here, but it is the truth. Logistics go a long way in the appraisal process. It is as simple as the CA Institute having a pass target as 0.02 percent every year. It doesn't mean that remaining 99.98 percentage of people have not aimed at Passing CA exams and have not worked towards its goal. Understand the realities behind this process. At the same, it hurts right! Its like getting centum in a subject in a board exam but still not qualifying for a state rank. You keep wondering what was that, that did not make you get that medal from the chief minister?? Similar case.
How to handle such situations as a Manager?
As a manager, you are trained to handle this delicate situations, for some people react silently, where as some people speak out with frustration. Those are the moments of anxiety for them for they have toiled for an year for this day. Understand them with compassion, handle them with care. Give an ear in detail to what they have got to say. May be your earlier judgement need to be re-reviewed and corrective action to be taken.
Human Potential is the strongest asset of an organization and as a Manager you have the responsibility to handle them carefully. You are not dealing with machines and just oiling them when needed. You are dealing with people's hard work, emotions, loyalty, commitment and dedication. You are handling some one's career, ambition and growth. Do not let your personal prejudice's come in way of a fair judgement. Be fair and transparent. If you are justifying someone that they are not efficient enough and ready for a promotion, solid hike or a next best opportunity, be subjective and specific. Talk to them with details, areas of improvement, and right statistics. Remember you are legally bound to answer their queries and help them understand the facts behind the decisions you made. To not give comparative statements, irresponsible answers and illogical reasons for why they missed the opportunity. To them its a waiting period of one another year, and who knows you may not be their boss as well, and they may have to drive this cycle from the beginning. As Azim Premji rightly says, major share of people leave organizations because of a wrong boss. Hope you don't get under this umbrella.
Be a boss about whom your employees talk great, get inspired, find you as a role model and always want to stick on with you for the comfort of delegation, authority and responsibility you give them and also an opportunity to prove their potential. Only when your team grows, you grow- This is the basic principle of management.
How to handle such a situation as an employee:
It would be one of the most disturbing days when your manager releases the appraisal report for you. Be prepared. Expect the unexpected and this would avoid any kind of disappointment. Even before the cycle to begin, maintain a register or a log of what you have done during the appraisal cycle. Nothing helps you than valid data. Keep record of appreciations and special milestones that you made the team cross. Do not compare yourself to others, compare yourself to your last performance. Acknowledge if you have failed in any areas with a note of acceptance for improvement. Mistakes happen and greatness lies in making attempts to correct them and not let them repeat. Understand that your manager will be having all reasons why he decided something for you. Try to talk openly but firmly. Analyse what he or she has got to say. If you disagree, take it up with higher ups for a more transparent discussion. Do not point fingers or find fault with others in process but handle it with maturity and composure. If you are right, it will make your manager realise the same. This is one period where people jump into hasty decisions and leave the companies. Never do that. If you are not able to achieve, impress in an organization where you worked for sometime, how can you expect to make it big in the new place. People who sustain such disappointment, consistently work for the next opportunity and who prove that their managers are wrong at times, are the people who climbed top on the corporate ladders. Its not the people who hop jobs after every appraisal cycle, but are the people who are strong and who believe in themselves who make it big in their careers. Remember, its like an examiner correcting a examination paper, depending on his day, the marks come in, remember this happened in our school days, and our managers cant be much different!. Now don't hit me saying why should we be targeted because manager had a fight with his wife at home on the day of my review, or because he can only promote one person, or because he is not able to convince his higher ups, or because there is no budget to allow more hikes. Remember there can be more deeper reasons and which he do not need to share with you. Respect his decision making as long as he is transparent and provides your subjective explanation on why you were rated so.
Bounce back with more energy, regain enthusiasm, and work hard not letting them having any reason what so ever in future to let you down. Remember the Japanese Shoe Company, which produces more than what the owners can sell as part of their silent protest!!! Heads Up Guys, its time for next appraisal!!!

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