Monday, 7 January 2008

The 5 F's of Appraisal

So back to the Appraisals, the yearly appraisals in our organisation are finally over... and with no approvals or KRA's on my head I thought would be worth writing a short complain email....when 9 yrs ago my first appraisal happened I was shocked, surprised and confused... with several questions in mind and in brains, lot of emotions in heart and soul. Over a period of time my view and reactions about appraisals changed from a 0 to 360 degree vertical.... its fun been on both sides of the table... however one thing I realised had always been a problem is many times the appraiser and apraisee both dont know why appraisals are really held, why waste 3 hrs documenting what you have done in the last year and then listen from your reviewer on what you havent done and how good you are NOT. To subsidize this find a letter of appraisal saying that you ahve received a 2% hike in your salaries due to appraisals as Motivation... Boy what a Motivation ;)

There are a few things that Managers need to understand and mind it they need to understand this well and right...if the 4 F's of appriasal are handled well they wont lead to the 5th one ...

F for Fair :- The first appraisal of my life taught me that if the Appraisal is not fair it may lead to distress and dissolution of teams.. Culture, Team, Spirit, bonding all will be lost and most importantly TRUST. I spent some time analysing the mentality of any person Jr. or Sr. after he comes out of appraisal... believe me not many come happy out of this... A developer thinks that his Manager never spoke to him for all year and now he says that I was not doing well. To the matter of fact many of the times clear allegations are made that the following person is biased and thus my appraisal is bad, several times personal conflicts are allegated to play a role in negative appraisals and some times they are true ;).
So how to make the Appraisal fair?
It's easy if you follow it ;). The Appraiser needs to appraise and the employee needs to review if the appraisal is done correctly ;). It has to be clear and finite with definately Positive and Negative comments that are comprised from the events and incidents that had taken place in the past few days... A simple example for the Managers is maintaining a sheet that speaks about every resource's incident diary for all the good and "wana improve" elements covered...

F for Fulsome :- "Today I had 3 " sounds so incomplete, just imagine if the feedback is incomplete what will it cause? Every single person on the earth needs complete information.. so why are the appraisals incomplete? Just mentioning you did not deliver on time doesnt make sense... however it makes sense when you mention that the following day of the following release is one example where we could have done XXX things better to make the delivery XXX in time might probably give more effect. In one of my previous organisations I tried a very different approach when I had to make it more complete... I channelised a few activities that included seminars, games and debate sessions and discussed all of the persons KRA's, the fact that appraisal lasted for 5 days ensured that the appraisal process in its entire was appreciated and ended happily...

Another problems with appraisals are that most of the appraisals are meant to consider only the sliding down parts of a persons work year... meaning only positive climbs are considered in the appraisal and not the Negative climbs(For those who dont understand Negative climbs these climbs are those steps that you took which lead to failure but gave you a good experience).

F for Feedback :- The misery of appraisals is that it is reverse in action then what it means... the Feedback part of the appraisal is not really treated to feed back the actions for the last season or feed with inputs for the next season, instead it has become a formal way of communicating the displeasure ;). The feedback has to be clear and sound and should be given with the right state of mind in a right state of mind to ensure that it is treated as feedback..

F for frequent :- Once a year appraisal is like once a year Sex.... Now because my blog talks about sex quite often I think no one here would be wanting to have it this late? Well honestly the more of this you have frequently the more healthier the relationship is... A every month feedback is the best approach for a bigger team while a weekly or bi-weekly for a smaller Team... Feedback has to come from all ends and frequently to get someone accelerate fast in the careers...

I asked one toxic and one Alpha Manager to expand the 4 F's with whatever words they can recollect instantly in relation to appraisal and the answer they gave themselves can tell you what would be the appraisal like:

Toxic Leader / Manager
F - Flexible
F - Formal
F - Framed
F - Faded

Alpha Leader / Manager
F - Full
F - Follow up
F - Factual
F - Fanatical

When I derive the context to the words they re-collected I spell them like this:
Flexible :- The Appraiser can decide what it means ;)
Formal :- It is just for the sake and more formal than casual.
Framed :- Because it is framed it is also flexible and formal ;)
Faded :- Nothing comes out of the process

while for the other part:
Full - Says everything in the most positive manner possible
Follw up :- Appraisal is complimented with a pre and post follow up and continous feedback.
Factual :- Real , Completely real.
Fanatical :- The appraisal returns in a fantastic outcome of successfull future ;)

Many a times and Many of we Managers fail to follow up on one or all of these F's that surely leads to the next F of appraisal and that is FUCKED UP Appraisal. Yes if any or all of these 4 F's are missed your appraisal is the 5th F.. now dont hesitate to tell your Boss that if he is up for your appraisal he ensures that he is prepared with the 4 F's ;)