It’s that time of the year when emotions are running high in the workplace. The “cream performers” are waiting to take a decision to carry on or move on based on the ratings, the “smart cookies” who are great at pleasing their bosses at this time of the year, by sitting late, doing extra errands because “the boss” is blessed with a short-term memory. The consistent performers, “the nice guys” carry on working and will readily accept any rating given because they are grateful to God for their jobs. They don’t want to topple the boat. The last group are the non-performers, “the trouble-makers”, who the boss is willing to let go and has passed on every sign of doing so, yet live in a world of make-believe and will fight tooth and nail for a high rating.
A performance appraisal needs to be done right because it decides who will stay with you in the next year and who will move. Leaders do a great job of it. They motivate, encourage and challenge. They retain the cream and get rid of the scum. Bad bosses nail it- they make the cream flee and end up having an organization of mediocre people or people who are afraid of moving.
A scene from an appraisal
Setting: Room: curtains drawn, door closed, boss looking very grim with glasses on, with otherwise ruffled hair, now neatly combed and set flat, removing any sign of appearing casual. A smile is out of question!
Boss: “How are you today?”
Cream performer: “Great!!!” ( wondering why the Boss shouldn’t smile during an appraisal).
Boss: “It’s the end of the year. You’ve sent me a really long mail on your team’s achievements. Tell me what did you do during the year?”
Cream performer thinking( Excuse me, you just said I sent you a mail on my achievements, it was meant to be read… we lost half of our resources this year and yet managed to complete all projects and manage leaves…and you are asking me what I did).
“I managed my team, created backups, handled staff shortages without complaints from business, generated revenue, had zero losses and had a great audit”.
Boss: “Isn’t that what you’re hired for? That’s your job description. That’s BAU ( business as usual). What else did you do?”
Cream performer thinking, “I put up with you…”
Boss: “You do know the current market situation. People are losing jobs and business isn’t too good. In this volatile situation just want to make sure that you will stay with us,no matter what the rating is”.
Cream performer: “What is the rating?”
Boss: “You know, we do a 360 degree appraisal and a few people have said they don’t like you”.
Cream performer thinking, ( Oh my God..to what level can this man stoop to!!!)
( appearing totally composed): “When you question wrong processes, people, raise issues in projects, it’s obvious that there will be people who will not like you. I dont regret any question I have asked. Those questions have helped business, our customers and the team. If I knew “being liked” was one of the factors, then I would have simply said likeable things, without questioning. As my boss, please let me know any of the non-likeable things I have done so that I can fix it…
Boss: breaking into a grin…you know we have the bell curve…and we need to stick to it…can not promise you anything. I will try from my side but it’s not in my control…there are a lot of factors and things being uncertain, anything can happen. We must be thankful for our jobs and try to retain it. If the management does not like us, there’s nothing stopping them from asking us to leave. You must take care…
Cream performer: It’s their loss, not mine, if they do. I put in my 100% into the job when I work…So…could you please tell me my performance rating , as per you?
Boss: You’re an excellent employee, hardworking, resilient, smart and you’ve managed your team extremely well. You are a great asset and we don’t want to lose you. But you need to be aware of what’s going on around you. Life’s tough…there’s a sword dangling all the time over us…I need to stick to the bell curve…I will try.
Cream performer thinking: “I need to make my resume’, get out of this place as soon as I can”.