For anyone who likes to observe human behaviour, it simply does not get more entertaining than at appraisal time.
The process is so inherently flawed that one is amused when one sees human resources in large setups struggle to run this process in its letter and spirit. That every company must have a fair and transparent appraisal system has no debate, then why do they end up in heartburns, disappointments and disillusionments?
A lot of times the victim is the poor Bell Curve in which the company tries to fit in its staff to ensure rewards follow results.
If you look a little deeper, you may realise that the reason why appraisal systems do not deliver the intended results is that they are stacked against human psychology. We all have an internal image of how we are, what are the efforts we are making, how is the world perceiving those efforts, how are the people around us behaving and how the worlds is perceiving them versus us.
A lot of people have a 'good-boy' mindset. I am good, hardworking, non political but my colleagues suck up to the boss, manage their image, get credit for work they did not do, do not get pulled up for their short delivery are politically manipulative and somehow manage 'perception' of their performance while my quiet hard work often goes un-noticed and un-rewarded. This allows us to reconcile in our mind that I am paying the 'goodness tax' as a simple man living in a manipulative world and by tainting the credibility of the person giving me the feedback, I can actually reject the feedback logically.
We are awesome lawyers to ourselves and strict judges to others. We judge ourselves by intent and others by outcome. Most performance appraisal feedback gets lost in the fact that the appraiser is giving feedback on the outcome while the appraisee is defending the effort put in.
Most of us accept things that fit our self image and reject those that don't by putting it down to biases of those giving the feedback. We edit things about us even as we hear them.
Have you ever thought of how we think we are versus how those that deal with us know us to be? Even with your parents or spouse you would be surprised to see how different these two would be, leave alone your boss.
We are not who we really are, but the stories we tell ourselves of who we are
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