Vivek Paranjpe, Consultant & Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries answers professional and ethical dilemmas faced by our readers at their workplace.
This is a usual question that an HR is faced with, especially during the time of performance appraisal. At the end of the session, a relatively new employee came up to me and asked the parameters on which he was rated and more specifically as to why he was denied a promotion though his performance was better than the other who was given a promotion. His argument was that, because the other employee was associated with us for long, he was promoted though he did not deserve it. I seek your expert advice on how to respond to a situation where there is dilemma between talent and loyalty?
It is a reasonable and legitimate question from an employee - on what parameters his/her performance assessment is done and how is the rating determined. I believe you need to have a transparent and fair performance assessment program. When a new employee gets on board, as part of induction he/she should be made aware of the role, responsibilities and the performance expectations as early as possible, with a clear visibility to the performance evaluation process.
Promotions – again it is natural for an employee to understand how he/she will progress in the company. Career paths, promotions and the related matters are very close to the hearts of the people. It is reasonable if your new employee is asking this question. I am sure while you promote the people, you must be following some norms/guidelines that lead to identification of the right people for promotion. Who to promote is certainly a management prerogative, however knowledge of how people are selected for promotions is a fundamental need for any employee so that the employee can prepare himself/herself for it. While loyalty/long term association, etc. are important factors, the importance of capabilities, knowledge, skills and competence to perform effectively on the higher role under consideration cannot be undermined.
I am sure you will be promoting people keeping in view all these factors. There is nothing wrong in becoming transparent about the importance of long term association if that is what your company values along with other factors like capabilities. Just come clean and encourage people to exhibit their commitment to the company. There is nothing right or wrong about what you do; the most important factor is - are your people aware of how things work and were they aware about the culture of the company before they joined? You will retain and attract only those people who believe in your culture.
To sum up:
To ensure you have the ability to attract and retain the right workforce, you need fair and transparent processes in place. This will ensure such questions are minimized, and if raised, you are able to deal with them effectively.
You can post your questions to Vivek by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org