Appraisals can make or break companies

Going through the humiliation of the Appraisal Process one wonders why they needs to be subjected to this barbarous act with tyrannical overtones in which personal dynamics or organizational realities are charaded  as performance measurement.

The above  can be aptly demonstrated by picking up the data of Good,Better and Best ratings of the last two years.Do employees who were “best” until last year have suddenly lost it to be rated as just OK or even poor this year.It is not the employee but the economy which is under  performing and wants to loose excess baggage for a tough uphill climb.

Having been through the grind from either side of the table for a number of years now I have realized that while the purpose of a performance appraisal is to”motivate” the employee for performing better in the coming year it most often  ends up as  a fault finding mission in which your boss frames you for crimes uncommitted for justifying a rating already conceived.

Data is twisted beyond recognition.If you are blessed , only those numbers will get highlighted which are in your favor and if you have rubbed the powers that be on the wrong side you may suddenly notice that the bars are smaller,the trend lines have a downward slope and you are falling behind everyone else like never before.

Before my motivational speech turns into a personal rant I would jump to the obvious question What’s the solution ?

To answer this we will first have to look at the cause of the problem.While organizations lay down seemingly fair ways of performance appraisal clearly defined by systems and methods it is ‘people’ who have to execute the process.We have to realize that organization is nothing but a group of people and people are humans who will have all the limitations of being one.They have egos when it comes to subordinates,jealousy when it comes to peers, and malice towards anyone who can take up their slot in the short run.I will give you a few examples to demonstrate why and how the system fails :

1.The rating of a yes man is always better than those who speak their own mind even though every official publication will talk about innovation and new ideas.Remember ‘The boss is always right’ .

2.Every time your boss recommends a promotion you come closer to becoming him especially if he is not moving up so he is perfectly justified that you are frozen in time too

3.The organization is visibly owned by nobody and so there is no point in putting too much premium on performance. Underachievers consistently  demotivate their team members to under perform  so they can never come close them in the hierarchy.Very difficult to prove but easy to to get away with.Appraisal happens once a year but the bosses can slow poison everyone around them every day.

So what should be done ?

OBJECTIVES  HAVE TO BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE

METRICS HAVE TO BE AS NUMERICAL AS POSSIBLE

APPRAISALS HAVE TO BE AS OBJECTIVE AS POSSIBLE.

The process has to be fair but more significantly it has to APPEAR to be fair.

It is very important that an employee understands the rating process and agrees to his rating.Unless they own their performance the whole purpose of conducting an appraisal is defeated.It is even more important that the areas of improvement and gaps in performance are well identified and specific measures are outlined to make sure the next years rating can be improved.You are successful as an appraiser only if you can get enhanced results from the Appraisees in the coming year.In fact there should be a penalty on those bosses whose teams ratings keep falling each year.

To ensure the above progress needs to be reviewed every quarter to take away any surprise element at the time of final assessment.

An appraisal that’s fair and well conducted will most certainly inspire the employee to do better.On the other hand an appraisal badly done can ruin the employee as well as the organization.

Some organizations do exceptionally well than the others – now you know why.

It is the Appraisal.

Would leave with parting lines from Marcus Aurelius ;

A man has to stand up straight,not straightened.