3 common mistakes to avoid while delivering appraisals

As people managers, we are presented with few tricky situations due to mismatch of rewards & ratings which can put the relationship with employee & manager’s credibility at risk and might even cause attrition if not managed well. Below are some key dos & don’ts while dealing with tricky situations to come out with a best possible outcome with a win-win scenario for you and the employee irrespective of actual rewards given.

1. “They” didn’t do a good job at it, I feel terrible for you

  • By pushing the accountability onto the system/leadership/HR, you might think you are deflecting the problem away from you so that you can continue to look good, in spite of misery of your employee. However, you will be seen as manager who is not in control. Managers & employees have an unwritten 1-1 rule, that I will give my best in delivering results, you will do best in securing my rewards, whichever way possible. There could exceptions for this rule, but this is general principle that breeds trust which can last beyond a single organization, where employees stick to organizations for long term and start to believe in delayed gratification.
  • A strong leader & manager doesn’t push the problem onto the system. He or she would stay objective and talk in first-person between both.
  • Be prepared with the data points on company rewards trends, guidelines, employee strengths & improvements areas in order to engage in a positive & forward looking conversation.
  • There is more power in acknowledging a problem than making it look like a systemic flaw

2. I got the similar appraisal too, that should make you feel good

“I sympathize with you, but actually, I am not you. And hence, I expect an outcome that suites my personal performance and I expect you to make it happen”.

  • So avoid using sympathy to pacify en employee, this will only expose you as a weak/non-performing manager. The discussion is totally about the employee and needs to be dealt from their point of view.
  • Do not compare the employee with you or their peers, that is mostly inconsequential. industry reward trends, performance of company & employee objectively to drive home the message.
  • Use few abstract examples of high & low performance to make it easy for them to understand without quoting names.
  • Set them forward looking goals, which is inline with their ambitions with measurable outcomes, dates.

3. Don’t worry, will take care of you in the next cycle

  • While this might act as temporary deterrent, do not use this unless you are 100% sure you can make it happen in next cycle. Considering fast changing industry dynamics, no can be sure of performance of industry, company and employee combination that will enable them to get rewards they think they deserve.
  • Share the rationale, Industry & company performance and what other benefits you can offer as whole package. Consider trainings, incentives, travel and other developmental programs that will enhance their career and marketability. Also set clear goals for next cycle and enable them to deliver and earn their career advancement. This will make them feel good about themselves.

Do not take “Path of least resistance” to look like a good person who is interested in employees well being but wasn’t able to do anything abut it. Rather bring out all options that you two have control on and can effect a change.

Here are some Dos

  1. Bite the bullet – Own it up. It will be tough conversation, where the employee will win or learn. You will make some happy, some will learn profoundly well and some might choose to look out else where. However, you will be known as a leader with clear thought process and they will respect you for the values you stand for.
  2. Avoid surprises & have your data ready – Things get complicated when the message comes as surprise to the employee or its way off the expectations. Keep periodic feedback loop on with consistent, objective feedback on where the employee is trending. This way all facts based, objective conversation can occur, with least friction and can help stay focussed on future progression.
  3. Always have employee’s well being in mind – While, not everyone can be a super star, everyone can give their best and can command a fair reward under supportive conditions.
  4. Conclude with forward looking, positive roadmap for 3/6/12 month plan with clear objectives, something significant that the employee can look forward to.
  5. Mutual respect & honesty are of utmost importance – People can see through us. Irrespective of the outcome of the meeting, pls ensure these two aspects and you are the one to extend it first.

Remember, the world is a small place, you might end up working with or for the same person, so treat them the way you want to be treated.

All the best, continue to build great careers!

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