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The Secret to Fair and Meaningful Appraisals

Ha! Ha! Ha! Did you say fair appraisals? Serious? Allow me to pause and take a minute to laugh. You know that my boss determines this, right? No? Is it actually someone or something else?

While that time of the year is upon us and for some, this is the steady “ Mid Year March” towards doomsday, appraisals do not necessarily have to be all translucent (bordering on opaque!), complicated and full of surprises (read: shocks). It does not have to set an example for what the secret ballot system of voting should aspire to be – a bunch of covert numbers being assigned and ratings being so tightly adjusted that you become no more than a sad digit on a Likert scale!

During an independent study done last year, we realized that over 50% of people who responded to our survey, felt that they could not talk openly in their company about how their appraisals were, while only 50% felt that their appraisals were fair.

Over 30% of people were unclear of the process itself and felt that they were being judged. Not surprising that 54% of people felt that they expected more direction from their leaders/bosses during/post appraisal.

So, how do you ensure that your appraisal systems are transparent, fair, sensible and meaningful to your employees? How do you make sure that these won’t be one-off chats that are forgotten because the employee either just accepts the feedback but has no clue in terms of an action plan?

Performance appraisal systems across the world tend to be thought of as inadequate, biased and even unnecessary. Regardless of which organization they work in, no matter the industry or the kind of job they do, employees seem to share a mutual dislike for performance appraisals. This unanimous discontent with and loathing of an entire system cannot be rooted simply in the fear of receiving negative feedback. Maybe there really are aspects of the appraisal system that need attention.

Preparing for an appraisal also means that managers need to prepare more than the ones being appraised.

Align to Values

It might just possibly be the most overlooked element of the appraisal process, but subjectivity is the absolute bane of supposedly fair performance reviews. Take a moment to think about it: can an employee’s year-long efforts and overall performance be fairly analyzed on the basis of a reviewer’s personal opinions and scope of judgment? Employees deserve an appraisal system that assesses their performance on the basis of a well-defined structure of factors that they not only understand but firmly believe in.

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