HRKatha finds out how the not-so-happy employees can be managed post annual appraisals.
Annual Performance Appraisals—are most awaited by the employees of any company. However, it is also the most dreaded topic for both managers and employees. Irrespective of how scientific and fair a company tries to make its annual performance review, there will always be a sizeable section of employees feeling sore after the appraisals are over.
It is one of the major factors leading to employees looking out for other jobs. Let us accept it— no one is really fond of it—neither the employers nor the employees. Yet, all the companies continue following a process that has existed since the industrial revolution.
Though the process has evolved over the years, with companies focussing on making the key result areas as goal oriented as possible, aligning it with individual performance, it still remains a pain point.
Kamlesh Dangi, ?group president human resources, ?UTI Mutual Funds, feels that usually the effect of bad appraisals is momentary. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how a company treats its employees throughout the year, which actually moulds the decision of the employees. He is of the opinion that the pain is higher in case of jobs with high curves and vice versa.
The effect of bad appraisals is momentary. It all boils down to how a company treats its employees throughout the year, which actually moulds the decision of the employees
The experts believe that there should be a continuous feedback, where the employees are aware of their performance and know what to expect. The problem arises when people believe that they have done very well but the appraisals are not as per the expectations. Throughout the year, the managers should wear the hat of a coach and give developmental inputs — as to how the employees can improve their performance—and at the end of the year, they should don the hat of the judge and reward the good job done by the employees.
Shailesh Singh, HR head,, director & chief people officer, MAX Life seconds it. According to him, negative surprises should be avoided. “Most humans struggle to handle inconsistent feedback. We are all generally conditioned to absorb inputs and internalise them over a period of time. Therefore, if the performance feedback is not consistent with prior conversations, it is natural to trigger negativity.”
Most humans struggle to handle inconsistent feedback. We are all generally conditioned to absorb inputs and internalise them over a period of time. Therefore, if the performance feedback is not consistent with prior conversations, it is natural to trigger negativity.
Richard Lobo, human resource head-Infosys, is of the opinion that there is nothing such as a good or bad appraisal. The problem arises when there are other perks linked with it—monetary benefits and designations. That’s what makes it hard for the people to take as bad assessment. “There should be transparency in the entire process with multiple smaller appraisals throughout the year. And for that, you don’t have to waste many man hours, because technology is available. You don’t have to depend on one long process,” he states.
Most employees tend to have a positive and subjective view of their performance, which can get further compounded by the fact that they have a limited and not holistic view of their peers. Therefore, when companies apply the bell curve we often have a clear gap between the lens applied by the supervisor and the view of the individual employees. This can often cause angst.
There is nothing such as a good or bad appraisal. The problem arises when there are other perks linked with it—monetary benefits and designations.
Round-the-year assessment is welcomed by all the stakeholders to keep the appraisal process objective. Continuous conversations provide better opportunities to understand the gaps and take corrective actions as the year progresses.
“I feel, periodic feedback should be pushed by the companies. In a company, such as UTI, if we look at our sales department, the possibility of disgruntlement is very less. It’s a highly number-driven department, where even the manager has little say in the yearly incentives an employee gets. Its objective oriented. In such a scenario, the pain is very less. You already know what you will get,” adds Dangi.
“At Max Life Insurance, we are mindful of these factors and encourage supervisors and employees to stay candid and connected in their conversations throughout the year. Regular feedback from multiple sources is encouraged, e.g. skip-level manager, HR business partner, senior-level business reviews, 360 feedback among others. Usage of data is encouraged to support performance assessments. To ensure broader alignment and holistic assessments, senior-level performance ratings are put through to the executive committee, where all department heads have an opportunity to weigh in with their inputs.
Swiggy holds regular feedback labs to make managers accustomed to the whole concept of ratings and feedback.
This enhances credibility of the appraisal system. Our system also has provision for escalating their issue to CPO and CEO if unsatisfied with their ratings,” asserts Singh.
The continuous appraisals or regular feedback also called ’check-ins’, helps the manager and employees discuss the nuances of the work including performance and expectations. The aim of such check-ins should be to reach a mutual consensus on what needs to be done to achieve better ratings and the manager is also in sync with the actual work being done by the employee as well.
Girish Menon, Head-HR, Swiggy, adds that the company conducts regular skill-building exercises on how to give feedback, called Feedback Labs. “Since most of the managers here are youngsters, we hold such regular sessions to make them accustomed to the whole concept of ratings and feedbacks,” he explains. The company also does compulsory quarterly check-ins, and every six months actual ratings are given. As a result, everyone is well aware of what is in store for them at the annual appraisals.
Singh feels that negativity is also caused in situations where trust is limited or lacking between the supervisor and the employee. This can be accentuated where HR and other senior leaders are not seen as objective anchors of the performance appraisal process.
That is where the grievances cell of the company comes into picture. To handle post-appraisal negativity better, the companies need to have a robust department that can handle their pain points efficiently. According to experts, to conclude that the grievances cell is doing its job effectively and efficiently, at least one third of the decisions should go in favour of the employees.
Menon adds that Swiggy has a very robust grievance cell that reaches out to the employees post appraisals. “People need to be heard. There have been cases, where the ratings and process have been changed in favour of the employees. We do reconsider genuine cases. We have been able to hold back our top performers very well.”
How the evaluation process is handled in a company makes a lot of difference. While a well-handled case can turn out to be a learning tool, where the employee can take the bad appraisal with a pinch of salt and work harder and smarter to perform better next time, a brashly handled case can lead to attrition.