Appraisals are a very essential part of the organisational growth. Simply put, it helps the management to assess whether the right kind of people are working in it and whether they are paid fairly for it or not. This is obviously done to one, have the right leadership being available for organisational growth and two, to keep the employees motivated and ensuring they trust the organisation through a fair appraisal process.

Now, that’s the ideal case. How fair the appraisal process is and how much the employees are satisfied and motivated is reflected by the mood at office especially in the post appraisal two-month period and a subtle lingering effect throughout the year for the employees who ‘stayed back’ as well. The fact that attrition is the maximum during the post appraisal result season (which is the ‘business season’ for the placement agencies) is a serious cause to worry but most bosses and even managements ignore this with a view that people don’t accept a bad rating even though they deserved it and that’s according to them is the end of it!

In most cases, the appraisal forms are seen by the manager when he is to make himself ready for appraising his subordinates. In many cases, most of these ‘bosses’ don’t know what the heck to do with this HR format and what most of these KRA’s and jargons mean. They sit with their bosses to understand ‘karna kya hai batao na boss’!! Ironically, that is the time when they come under the pressure of the mighty and usually infamous bell curve themselves – lol.

Now if this is the state of the appraiser, imagine the situation in which the appraisee will be. He/ she would see for the first time those parameters which he had to fulfill as part of his performance which he never knew and quite frustratingly, just as his boss, doesn’t even know what they mean. Already the mood is negative on both sides and that is a new topic for the chai ki tapri gossip as well.

Ok, let’s come back to the point. The way appraisals should be done is that at the beginning of the year this appraisal HR doc should be retrieved from the intranet and suitable time during any one day should be invested by the ‘very busy demanding boss’ in making his team understand what is required of them in the coming year in all the parameters mentioned in the form. This will one, eliminate ambiguity and last minute shocks and frustration in the minds of the subordinates and two, enhance trust for their leaders in that someone really cares for us to have a good appraisal.

Actually, this activity should be conducted religiously but informally every quarter and reported to HR. The whole negativity revolving around appraisal system can gradually, over time, turn into a welcome positive event awaited by one and all in the system therefore actually fulfilling its purpose. The condition that applies for this to happen is that the appraisal activity has to be seen beyond a once in a year defining event and admired as a continuous effort culminating at the end of the year.

Of course this needs training of the managers and a paradigm shift in the mind of the management to start with.

My point here is that attrition and demotivation are not the outcome needed from the appraisal process in general, especially when the managements think they were fair in the appraisal process. Some brainstorming and solution seeking needs to be done to bring about a sustainable solution for this yearly tsunami.

Usually this comes as a post-mortem exercise. Can we hunt down the causes and reduce them (at the crime scene)? Can we agree that our appraisers (the bosses) were never trained on the importance of the appraisal process for the organisation? We assumed that they, at their level would understand how to appraise appropriately because they are at a responsible position. If only the managements understand the impact appraisals have on the organisational growth, the whole equation would change in the conduct of appraisals.

Therefore, as a first thought, we need to check whether appraisals in our organisation are happening as a necessary evil without people understanding the grave importance of the process from organisation’s balance sheet point of view as well as employee motivation standpoint? Don’t we know that the ’employer brand’ can take a negative hit because of an inefficient appraisal process and we might find it difficult to attract good workforce?

In addition to the above, have we checked and ensured that are our managers not doing appraisals with a stick in their hand and using ‘this day’ to vent out all that they might have held against the employee? Are we sure we know that? Does that appraiser need to be appraised about the effect on the employer brand due to this approach?

Even the HR team has an unconventional role to play here. HR teams need to go and listen or even be a part of the conversations that are happening at that chai ka adda or office canteens or even the unofficial whatsapp groups because that’s exactly the place you will know the mood in the system. This will be challenging and will need smart interpersonal skills as employees are usually reserved to talk openly in front of an HR personnel.

This needs to be a round the year activity and must be recorded off the books as having taken notes on the flavour of emotions in the organisational environment. HR engagement has to happen at that level to know the pulse of employee emotion regarding the workplace and the organisation and senior leadership should be appraised about the same so that timely repairs (if needed) are done. Few great organisations are ensuring that their HR is recruited/ trained to be smart enough to keep the communication channel open with employees. Unfortunately, not every organisation can boast of this achievement.

To summarise, appraisals need to be an activity which makes life easy for organisational growth and not the other way round. For that perhaps a paradigm shift is required in the way appraisal process is perceived and conducted. A sound PMS system will ensure a win-win for all its stakeholders – the employee, managers, senior most leadership and the organisation as a whole !

Categories: Workplace


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