Pinky Dey(Assistant Manager)
CBE (Centre for Behavioral Excellence),
Talent Transformation, Wipro Ltd.
It’s March! Are you biting your nails?
Cathy, a Vice President (Operations) from a major insurance company, finds herself in unfamiliar waters when ‘March’ approaches. This month means, appraising a team of 10 members which is extremely daunting for her. While her humane side tempts her to rate everyone high and keep them happy and motivated, she still needs to follow process and take unbiased decisions about contributions made by every team member. Considering her personality, being firm and fair with her judgments, is a nail biting state for her.
On the contrary, some of her team members believe that they are high contributors but are confused about their state by the year end. Few of them aren’t aware that they are doing a great job. Some are trying to achieve what they can and leaving the rest to their fortune and couple of them are still confused about how would they achieve all that is lined up, in a month. The employees approaching their appraisals are biting their nails too!
Have you been on either side of such a situation? If you are an employee or a Manager this year, you may find yourself in one of these conditions.
Having said that, though performance appraisal may cause anxiety for employees and Managers, it is imperative to maintain goal progress and employee development. This process also helps to decide the fate of an employee in an organization and the way forward.
Here are some tips that may help you through apprehensions, if you play a role of an appraiser this year:
- Reviews before appraisal: Appraisals based on short discussions, is not enough to decide the future prospect of an employee. To close a performance appraisal within such a time, a considerable number of reviews are required before the final discussion. This helps gain clarity on challenges and opportunities to meet exceeding employee performance.
- Prepare to observe performance trends: Currently, about 53% employers say that they don’t have active mechanisms of keeping a track of improved performance. Mostly, employee performance is evaluated basis targets set for the current year and not on how the employee has improved over the years. What variations has the employee tried to add in the current role to gain experience? How have these experiences added value to the team? These questions also need to be addressed along with current performance, by an appraiser. This needs preparation before entering into such discussions.
- Make it a conversation:Do not make performance appraisals a one way directive. Employees are more accepting when they are heard, listened to and understood. The discussion must be driven through equal participation between the employee and the Manager, which means it needs to be a conversation.It is not about winning the conversation but arriving at a mutual consensus about performance.
- Be prudent about commitments: You don’t have to step out for a coffee during performance appraisals to avoid difficult questions from an employee. When an employee negotiates hard for a hike, high rating or promotion, you do not have to decide immediately and commit. Have such discussions in phases so, you have enough time to think about your decision and arrive at concrete and agreed conclusions. All you have to do is, listen to the point they make, keep a note and come back quickly but at a later date.
- Clarify performance decisions:If you think it is challenging to convince an employee, help them understand your decision by clarifying how and why you are rating him/her at a particular level. Help them realize the simplicity and complexities of their roles and the expectations accordingly.For instance, if the role is complex, even the basic parameters met may earn a good rating. On the other hand, if the role is simpler meeting all the parameters may just earn a mediocre or average rating. Therefore, appreciate them for valued contribution, give them their due credit and clarify the available opportunities they have to work upon next year.
On the contrary, if you are sitting on the other side of the table and getting appraised then the following tips may help you deal with all worries about such discussions:
- Be a warrior till the last hour: The anxiety of achieving all the goals and objectives may overwhelm most employees. Some may give up easily due to this experience. Don’t have a defeatist attitude. Achieve as much as you can till the last hour like a warrior with persistence. At times, achieving one target could be contagious to accomplishing other targets too. It’s like the last hour smart study that earned us good grades when we wrote our exams in school and college.
- Remain transparent with your appraiser: Assessing your contribution is not a transactional activity. Like you have kept a close look at your performance, your Manager has also observed you through the year. Don’t try to impress your appraiser with data that may not be relevant at all. Be as transparent as you can as this creates confidence on you in the minds of your appraiser. Articulate things that you could achieve or not achieve this year and things that you want to pick up next year. Set clear expectations on the support you need from your respective manager to achieve expected goals.
- Accept failures: Managers may set stretched targets because they see potential in you to do more. However, at times you may have certain areas of improvements. Not being able to accomplish target is ok! Experiences like these help you understand that you need some more efforts to do better next time. You may also realize where your expertise lies or how would you like to contribute the next year.
- Understand performance and demonstrated behaviors: You may have achieved every target that was lined up for you this year but is that enough? It is not only your contribution to the team targets but also the behaviors you have demonstrated while achieving those targets that differentiate you from others. Your communication style, collaboration with peers, senior leaders and customers, responsiveness, risk taking abilities are some of the important parameters that may be looked at during your appraisal discussion. Mostly Managers consider performance complimented with these qualities for employee growth.
- Be ready for negotiation: Proactively voicing out your conflicts on how you feel about the discussion is significant. Unless you leave opportunities to negotiate, things may appear all good, but may not be as good inside you. Be open about your thoughts as it builds opportunities of further conversations that may lead to thought through outcomes.
By the virtue of the role you play in your organization, be it a Manager or an employee, you could save some of your nails by following these tips this year and in future!!! All the best for your appraisal discussion!