Addressing Post-Appraisal Blues: Venkatesh Ganapathy
Organisations should obtain feedback about the appraisal process but they should also lay the ground rules for the same
The time before and after performance appraisals is crucial because this is the period during which employees as well as organisations try to bargain what is the best for them.
It is a different matter that some organisations do not have anything called as an appraisal process. Some others have a process but are not committed to following it. Others have a process and follow but this is no guarantee for an objective assessment of performance.
Let us accept the fact that despite the best intentions performance appraisals cannot eliminate subjectivity in totality because at the end of the day, it is a human and not a computer who does the performance assessment. This only means that the outcome of a performance appraisal largely rests on how the line manager views his sub-ordinate’s performance and not what the sub-ordinate thinks about his performance. If there is a synergy between the line manager and his sub ordinate, the outcome can be positive.
A well known HR consultant in Bangalore Ms Sharanya Madhavan says that organisations tend to freeze the recruitments during the months of February and March. After the appraisal, when disgruntled employees put in their papers, the recruitment drive recommences. Employees also adopt a wait-and-watch approach during this phase because with increments, their pay packet also gets revised and this aids their negotiation strategy with prospective employers.
Should organisations beat the post appraisal blues by asking for feedback from employees? Yes, certainly. Organisations should obtain feedback about the appraisal process but they should also lay the ground rules for the same. Feedback should not be given with the intention to sabotage the line manager’s reputation by character assassination or to get the ratings changed. Many employees also put in their papers to bargain for a promotion or a higher increment and organisations seldom realize that this is another strategy by the so-called sharks in the organisation to drum-beat their performance. Even if such employees are retained by the organization, there is no guarantee that they will stay long.
Indian corporates are still far removed from the situation in which they are open to accepting a feedback from an employee that is destructive or negative even if it may be the truth. Not everyone may be adept at putting across their views in a manner that is more forward looking or diplomatic. Providing appropriate feedback is a delicate affair that requires a reasonable level of tact.
The best technique is to elicit the information from the employees in a structured manner (selecting the right option among others) with one or two questions at the end asking for suggestions to improve the process. These suggestions should be collated and a communication has to be sent to employees that the recommendations are being worked upon. Actions need to be taken by HR to improve the process based on the feedback. This will be reassuring for the employees.
As the intention is to improve the process, it will be worthwhile not to insist on employee names whilst obtaining the feedback. This will ensure more realistic and quality input from employees. Rather than completely leave the feedback management to HR, top management should also take interest in knowing about the feedback.
We all have often read the cliché – People leave bosses, not organisations. When an outstanding performer is not productively utilised and the organisation loses him because the line manager did not believe in delegation or empower him, the loss is entirely that of the organisation. Employers often feel that no employee is dispensable. While this is true, manipulation of an outstanding employee’s ouster mainly because of a biased or subjective opinion by the line manager is something that is not uncommon in the corporate world.
The performance appraisal process has truly evolved in the last decade. There has been a sincere attempt by organisations to quantify the performance matrices using the balanced score card technique. Despite such a progress, the fact remains that the performance rating is largely decided by the line manager. Some IT organisations are waxing eloquent about using customer feedback to evaluate an employee’s performance. But this approach is flawed because it clearly smacks of a ploy to reduce the headcount.
The performance of an employee is always relative depending on the nature of the task, the expected outcome, the training provided, the motivational factors, the resources, the level of empowerment and delegation of authority to take decisions and last but not the least, the drive of the employee to excel. Organisations should use the performance appraisal system to assess the performance in as objective a manner as possible. Drop in the performance of an employee should be viewed seriously and analysed so that root causes can be identified and the role of the line manager should be scrutinised in an objective fashion. It will be unfair to blame an employee alone for a sub-optimal performance unless there is proof that the under-performance was intentional.
The manner in which an organisation treats its outgoing employees is clearly a signal for other employees. So, it is all the more reason for organisations to beat the post appraisal blues tactfully and send the right signals to employees to reduce the attrition rates.