Performance appraisals are never fun.
Even though we have tried our best, worked some extremely long hours, and delivered most of our work deliverables – there is still this tingling feeling deep down inside us that some of the mistakes that we made may be used against us.
Recently, a good friend of mine confided in me and admitted that he is frustrated at his place of work because of the unfairness of his work appraisal system.
He kept telling me stories about how the ones who show initiative and constantly propose new ideas to bring positive change to the company are always being shot down.
However, the ones who just do the bare minimum got a good appraisal, which gave them a decent salary increment.
Therefore, he and I coined the phrase – ‘You can do very well here by just doing nothing, and you can get the boot because you tried to do everything’.
Most of the management journals that I have read all pretty much say the same thing – that if an employee or a group of employees feel that their colleague or a set of colleagues were appraised incorrectly and given undeserving high scores, the results would divide the team or department. It would also create animosity within the working group, and the ones who have to pick up the slack and break the constant tension are the bosses or management. If you were the business owner, you would get pretty worried because your employees are fighting rather than working and making you money.
But as a person who has witnessed the facilitation of some relatively unfair performance appraisals, I can just sum it up in one simple story – first there is the appraisal, then the victors smile, the “need improvers” put on a fake smile and might choose to make some noise, so the bosses then create a resolution followed by promotions but there are also resignations. The story ends with the ever-eager headhunter getting a call after which he yells out to his staff, “We got business guys, let’s get cracking.”
You may think I am being cynical but facts are facts, and you will never get the real truth from the employees because the ones who get promoted say their company system is fair and perfect. The ones who don’t get the pay rise or promotion say their company is horrible and the typical Malaysian phrase I used to hear is, “My bosses are racist. That is why I did not get promoted or appraised fairly.”
One management journal that I read also said that, “Less than 50 percent of CEOs are convinced their performance management approach helps them drive employee engagement or business results.”
But the major question I always ask people in management is what is more important to them in a workplace relationship – trust or workplace results? Most of them say both and give me a long-winded answer. But why do many people who manage to hit their numbers and achieve their workplace goals still come out with mediocre scores in their work appraisals? It’s the trust factor and it is not an Asian thing, or a Western thing; it’s a human thing.
SPM students are always getting our best wishes when they are sitting their exams. Maybe we should also start the year by wishing all workplace employees the best. The notice should read, “Good luck to all working Malaysians in your upcoming performance appraisals; may you be appraised accurately and fairly.”
Happy 2016 everyone!