Performance evaluations are not about meeting the Principal at school; it is a conversation between mature adults. It is the most important event that employees look forward to. However, it is also the most emotive moment that people dread. It is thus important that we deal with it as not only a manager and a team member but also administer & cooperatively respond as real “social beings.” It is a two-way discussion that must be productive and enjoyable; however exceptional or poor the performance under consideration may be.
The dilemmas associated with appraisals are numerous. Let’s enlist a few that lead to postponement/procrastination of performance reviews and resultant heartache and headache:
- It inevitably comes up during the crucial quarter of the year, and thus an impact on morale & relationship would negatively affect performance. If the method & approach is correct, we can minimize this for sure. But emotions are real, and they do transform, it’s just a matter of time.
- We want to rate & be rated “benevolently” to keep everyone happy and engaged. It is nothing but a misconception. Socially acceptable ratings can negatively impact morale and future performance. That every member delivers uniqueness in the same collective performance is a yardstick that cannot be used.
- It’s a carrot to motivate performance for the coming year. This action is nothing less than a gift, which is forgotten soon enough. You don’t need carrots you need self-motivation, capabilities and focus on delivering performance.
- Attrition happens after an appraisal is another incorrect understanding. People leave people; they don’t go because of grades and increments unless they have been grossly underpaid for years. It is better to leave as a winner than a loser. After all, attrition is a reality; it is not a blood relationship that cannot be parted away with.
- Will we look good is the next dilemma. In fact, false grades and assessments do surface; and it is just a matter of time. It can erode the credibility of individuals forever. We are dealing with performance, not personalities and people. This distinction is a must.
There are many more areas of the dilemma, but the important aspect is how to manage all of them. Well to start with it’s easy. It’s all about “personal touch” in relationships. If the personal connection is good and trust is high, you sail through these turbulent waves. The investments in relationships that are based on two-way feedbacks and feedforward are a pre-requisite to the accurate appraisals. Unfortunately, this takes a back seat, which results in discomfort. It’s about a multiplier effect of “Relation & Performance” for all stakeholders. Lets thus get to the crux of a successful appraisal:
- Get the setting right: Use a non-threatening environment. It must give a feeling of equality, comfort and mutual respect.
- Get the mindset right: Allow preparation time. The discussion must be purely based on facts and data coming from the same source. Operate in an adult frame of mind, focus on rationality more than emotional outbursts. State this expectation right at the start.
- Listen Actively: The “inner world” of the appraiser and that of the appraised are different. Empathy and compassion play a crucial role here. Opinionated appraisals always create a sad outcome. We have to look at both the worlds. Keep time for a healthy conversation don’t hurry it.
- Moderate the communication: Deal with one issue at a time. Don’t intertwine performance issues. Close one gate at a time. Start with the pleasant move to the unpleasant and end with the sweet spots. It gives a feeling of holistic fairness. A neutral entity in the room can surely help moderate.
- State & discuss the competency behaviours demonstrated. Overemphasis on numbers is an incorrect method. The accomplishment of KPI cannot be the only basis. Behaviours must be shown through their intensity and frequency for a suitable reward.
- Force rank: Sit back; take a neutral view of the year. All are not equal in performance. Make a ranked list of team members and be rational. In the case of a tie apply a differentiator. A personal favourite may not always deliver.
An appraisal is about the development of individuals for the coming year. Give and take feedback. Set goals and back their accomplishment with a developmental learning plan. Don’t make it a ritual. Appraisals on time go a long way. Not discussing an assessment frankly is the greatest “corporate sin.”
Use the appraisal process to build great relationships. After all, relationships only mature when discomfort is managed in a comfortable way.
Enjoy the process, use humour, use suggestions & ideas look at alternatives. Make it active. Appraisals are an important part of the organization’s policy. Use it as an opportunity to enhance performance and culture.
The real competence of a good manager & a team member is put to the test here. Like you appraise the appraisee the appraisee also appraises you during this time. So don’t fail each other.
An organization without an appraisal process is a “country club, ” and work is not a retreat, it delivers tangible results, which must be documented accurately and rewarded with differentiation and correct discretion.
Have a great year ahead!!!