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BW Businessworld

Bad Appraisals? Don’t Give Up

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The appraisal season brings heart burn or euphoria depending on what sort of an outcome you had based on the annual performance review. This is also a time in the corporate world when the entire year is reviewed, reflected and rewards usually are distributed depending on how well the team, or organisation performed.
No matter how perfect an organisation’s appraisal system, there are always individuals who feel short changed after a year’s hard work. While an individual may think, they served with blood, sweat and toil, the supervisor or the company may feel it was all in a day’s work. So, don’t just reach out to the next available recruiter who has been chasing you all year, instead use this not so positive appraisal to serve as a foundation for your next stage of growth. If you are young and ambitious, you are well within your rights to express righteous indignation, vent your spleen on the perceived “jackass” of a supervisor. You feel your boss is a ‘self-aggrandising’ credit sucker who got a lion’s share of the spoils but left only the crumbs for you and rest of the colleagues. You seriously feel wronged and feel like writing a nasty e-mail couched in two polite words “I Quit”
Here are some counter perspectives to consider:
Appraisal time is not revenge season: You may feel good after quitting and walking out to the next available job offer but such impulsive choices repeatedly can set you up for failure. The next job offer can only land you in more of the same situations if you have not done a root cause analysis and introspection. You need to separate the appraisal from the personality. Often it is not about you, as a person.
Companies talk about a bell curve where they fit the entire organisation and just do a statistical distribution and often what you may think was exceptional contribution must have been “averaged” out across multiple teams. If this was a one-off bad year, do consider it natural as often you go through ebbs and flows where you get to work on really exciting stuff and business as usual mundane work. So, give yourself a week or two to stomach this perceived disappointment but do not act purely based on what transpired during the appraisal process.
Appraisal time is not coaching season: Because of the rough and tumble, frenetic pace at work few bosses take time to discuss goals periodically. They assume the few minutes assigned to discuss performance on annual basis alone is worth capturing an entire year’s work. If you are not having regular conversations about your work then the appraisal conversation is only a formality. If you hear the team leader mouth generic platitudeswithout specific inputs, just brace yourself and take it as a mere bump on the road. If your supervisor truly values your work as much as you care, then appraisals reflect the content of the dialogue you have had through the year.
A strong relationship with your supervisor is a precondition to a good appraisal. Often there is a fine line between sucking up to a boss and having a respectful relationship and few know the distinction. Instead of waiting, you make things happen and keep pushing to have conversations, both formal and informal. Get out of the regular patterns and build a larger network within the organization and outside as well. What can you offer as commentary that can make your client and your team look good?
Appraisal is a tool for conversation and planning: Corporate survival is not about quick victories. It is a long haul ride with the occasional surprise or a disappointing turn. You will have bosses who will sponge off your hard work and gain their personal rewards. Do not resent them because, sooner or later they will get exposed. You need to plot your own journey based on stuff that matters to you. Carrying bitterness towards your boss or peers makes your day at work miserable. Let go and focus on yourself. Give yourself more time if you have sincerely given your best at work. However, if you are repeatedly being short changed evaluate your communication style and ask if you are under communicating or sending wrong signals.
One key question to ask each year is: What have I done that can be called an extra mile achievement? If you have a lot of second mile accomplishments that demonstrate that you went way beyond the call of duty and still did not get rewarded, then start writing your storyline. In a couple of years that narrative will set you up for a next big jump. You can never get to the top of a summit in a hurry. Treat a bad appraisal season as a pit stop to the top.
Robert is the author of recently published ‘Bound To Rise’