Appraisal Season -2
Last month, I had told you the story of “whom you know” and “what you know”. Why did “whom you know” get promoted in a quicker pace, compared to “what you know”? I have listed some of the reasons below. Here’s an excerpt of what happened around me this appraisal season…
The search for Objectives
As soon as the appraisal season set in, everyone started to search for their objectives. Though it’s difficult to believe, it was the truth in most cases. People search for their objectives only after the onset of the appraisal monsoon. And this mostly resulted in a scramble for certifications, the scramble being so bad that certification slots are unavailable. Similarly, people were trying to ensure that they had completed the required training programs prescribed for them at the end of the previous appraisal.
This is the most popular curve, on everyone’s mind during the appraisal season. Originally, the bell Curve was a well-known statistical method used for grading. Appraisals made these curves more popular. The 1st generation of managers passed it on to the next generation manager, who passed it on to the next generation and so on. Lost in these translation sessions was the original intent of the bell curve. Popular belief was that whenever someone used this term, it meant that they had done a proper stack ranking of their team members, and were not questioned any further. The disadvantage of the bell curve is that community influences can lead the bell curve to be wrongly interpreted, and the creations of a lot of fluctuations of the bell curve especially when many groups are involved. Such disadvantages are questioned by nobody.
This disease runs rampant during the appraisal season at top level. The big bosses need to prove to the biggest bosses that they are aware of ground reality. So, they look into recent history to quote a top level performance by an individual and use the power bestowed in them to recommend a good rating for him. The disease runs deeper when more often than not, only the performance of the last few months is kept in mind when management were discussing employee performance. Any super work done in the initial 3-6 months are conveniently forgotten by everybody, proving the initial sentence, that memory loss is indeed rampant in management.
How do people try to get promoted?
And there is this set of people who are on the look-out for promotions. These would include people who have been in the system for quite some time and have seen new people with the same experience join the company at a higher designation, people who have been deprived off onsite opportunities, people who are under the impression that they get a low pay, etc. etc. etc. This would be the set of people who are used to periodic rewards and think that they deserve a promotion only because they have existed in the company for a long time.
How people try to get more hikes?
And there are people who try to talk to their bosses to ensure that they get a better hike than the person sitting across them. They quote family financial crisis, lack of onsite opportunities, why they did not fight a poor appraisal last time, why they took the beating for the boss’s mistake, why they have been very faithful to the organization, etc. to try and get a better hike than the person that they have lunch with. Some of the back stabbers also go to the extent of telling their bosses the goof-ups of a colleague, so that they get a better deal than their colleagues. So much for team-work!!!
How people call in for favours during appraisal season?
And you have some vice-presidents, and some super-managers who sit on top of the entire pyramid. These people are the ones that view the system from a height of a trillion feet. They are always on the look-out to award their favourite personnel who exist at the grass-root level, irrespective of how the individual performs.
Resignations are much-loved
And during the appraisal season, everyone loves resignations for the simple reason that the person who has resigned can be put at the bottom of the pile, to make up for the bell curve. He might have been a superstar, or a great performer, but the very fact that he has decided to leave the company would ensure that his name is listed as the bottom performer. Nobody looks at names, they look at only numbers.
And this word “You should have been pro-active” can be found in the feedback of at least 60% of the people. It’s so easy asking someone to be “pro-active”, and that too at the end of 1 year. When managers cannot give their team members a good hike, or a promotion, they use this term to put off the candidate in the hope that he’d shut up for the next year, or get an employment elsewhere.
The Blame Game
Employees ask for reasons as to why they don’t get a good appraisal. And their bosses try to spend most of their time justifying it. Don’t be surprised if your boss quotes a spelling mistake in an email from you to your client a year back and ask you to sign-up for “Communication sessions”. Or if your boss quotes a telephone discussion that happened between you and your client 6 months back and asks you to sign up for “Telephone etiquette” sessions. Or if you find that you are being penalized for a very low priority UI defect that happened 8 months back. The blame game is at its best during the appraisal season.
My Thoughts (Not too many thoughts. Just a couple)
1)Unplugged Loopholes - The appraisal process, like any other process, has a lot of “unplugged” loopholes. Not plugging them is very convenient for most people, since it allows them and their cronies to prosper. Will we ever close these gaps?
2)Time spent on appraisals - The time spent on appraisals. Most of the time is spent on how we can justify ourselves and not at improving product quality. We are trying to fight for rights during this season, mainly because the stake involves money. You guys ever wonder if we should fight like this to uphold product quality? Ever fight like this to ensure that the client gets his due of quality code? If only we spend half of our energy for the betterment of the product, am sure that our products would be much better!!!