How to train managers to handle issues around appraisals

Managers need to be trained to evaluate performance objectively and give meaningful feedback during the appraisal time.


It is appraisal time and HR personnel everywhere are busy assessing employees’ performance levels. Organisations use various fundamental tools to handle their performance management system (PMS). However, there has been a lot of debate over which is the fairest and most objective way of measuring performance. Many organisations are moving away from the traditional PMS to a more feedback-based structure. Several have done away with the rating system. Whether the organisations follow a rating system, a feedback system or a mixture of both, immense responsibility is placed on the shoulders of managers when it comes to evaluating their subordinates objectively and fairly.

Any appraisal system is fraught with issues. At the time of giving feedback and ratings, there are some psychological factors that influence the objectiveness of the managers consciously or unconsciously. To deal with these problems, managers need to be trained to run a smooth and fair appraisal process in the organisation.

HRKatha had a chat with some senior HR leaders who run various training programmes within their organisations to train and tackle these issues. This helps them run and conduct a smooth appraisal system.

Change flows from the top, or so the saying goes, and that is exactly what happens at Alkem Laboratories. According to Rajorshi Ganguli, president & global HR head, Alkem Laboratories, this year, the Company conducted interviews with senior HR leaders on how to handle appraisals. Also, every year, the Company holds sessions for its managers to guide them on the do’s and don’ts associated with appraisals.

Alkem also runs micro video sessions where managers are shown short clips on how to provide meaningful feedback to subordinates during appraisals. It was noticed that some of the managers were not providing a detailed feedback to their juniors. So, the Company selected some sample feedbacks given by its senior leaders to show to the managers and teach them to give detailed, fair and serious feedback.

“A good appraisal begins with a good dialogue or feedback. This should be taken seriously by managers,” shares Ganguli.

Likewise, Optum, the healthcare services company, runs modules to provide training in coaching conversations, setting goals and evaluating people.

The Company also focuses on mitigating the psychological factors, which hinder a smooth and an objective appraisal.

Optum runs cultural training programmes for its managers, which focus on human operating systems. Through these it makes its managers understand selective perceptions, separate realities, energy levels and filters that create issues in giving an objective feedback. It tries to explain the complexities of a human brain to its managers.

“The human brain is a fairly complex organ. Everything that we humans say is perceived differently by everyone. It is very important that we understand those differences, and at the same time, appreciate them,” mentions Kshitij Kashyap, VP & head, human capital, Optum Global Solutions.

The appraisal period is a very crucial time in an organisation’s journey, and therefore, it is critical for it to be totally fair. “It is important for the senior leaders to create seriousness around the appraisal system. It is not an HR need, but a need of the business,” comments Ganguli.

On the other hand, HR also needs to play a big role in mitigating the difficulties or issues around the appraisal system and help managers in the process. “I do not believe in modules. It is very important to track the managers’ journey and examine the kind of problems they face during performance management, evaluation or employee engagement. The HR personnel should hand hold the managers and assist them in overcoming such difficulties,” explains Kashyap.

Many talk about AI being the future of appraisals and at the centre of a great revolution in the performance management system, but as of now, it is at the initial stage. Till then, humans are the ones who will make all the related decisions. Though giving feedback and evaluating employees is not only HR’s need, they should prepare their managers so that they can give proper feedback and evaluate employees. This can further help to bring down the attrition level and enhance employee engagement and motivation.

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