11 march 2010


The success of an organization lies with appropriate ‘pay for performance’ parameters which are like a Robinhood story - Stars to be paid, from the rest - you raid.

Man is a bundle of desires and truly we see this at least once a year during the Performance Appraisal Cycle. Managers at times are not ready to handle this situation. As always in a developing economy, it seems to be an employee’s market and not the employer. The organization grapevine buzzes with discussions on the organization not treating people with equality or about the organization having double standards when it comes to Appraisals. Well, the truth of the matter is that this situation should never be this difficult if we focus on the task at hand and keep out all other variables.

There are a few thumb rules for the Manager, at the time of Appraisals:

  1. Be fact oriented. Prepare well and have all achievements and failures of the employee ready.
  2. Keep all emotions outside the discussion room.
  3. Look at the period in review and not the whole history of the employee. You may get swayed.
  4. Be candid in your assessment.
  5. Remember, it’s about relativity (of the team / organization / industry).

Every year, your HR representative would give you a directive Bell curve for your team, which would act as a guide for your team’s ratings. Well, all of this is history today, with no ratings and bell curves. Hence it is all the more important that managers understand the individual performances of their team and identify them in all the quadrants – Stars, Laggards, High and Low average performers. If this ranking is not done, then the manager faces an uphill task of how to recognise their members.

Following are some MYTHS, which the Manager would normally assume:

Everybody is performing and hence everyone is to be considered a star.

Always look deep and wide across the full review period and there are bound to be different performance levels across the team. Everyone may be performing, but at what cost. Not just what they have achieved, but also how have they achieved the same should also be looked into.

Majority lies in the upper average and star category only. Managers who feel ashamed of showing a distributed bell curve will be the ultimate sufferers because all of us know that the number of positions grow smaller as one scales to the top and hence any mass band of rating would hamper the success of the employee and also the organization.

There are no low or non-performers in the team. Ranking is not possible: If one were to believe these statements, it would reflect badly on his or her understanding of their respective team. A Manager has to constantly measure his team members on a dual scale – one should be the individual performance yard stick and the other relative ranking.

Relativity is not to be considered. An employee performs. An employee performs well. An employee performs well, consistently. An employee performs consistently better than the others. An employee performs consistently the best across the whole team. Do you still need an explanation?

Undue credit should never be given to low or average performers. Similarly, Hi-Po’s (Top performers) should be rewarded in a way that they stay motivated to out-beat their own and existing performances.

The success of an organization lies with appropriate ‘pay for performance’ parameters which are like a Robinhood story - Stars to be paid, from the rest - you raid.