The Appraiser & the Appraisee

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It is performance review time in most organisations.  The year is over and the appraiser has to review the performance of the appraisee. In most organisations, the appraiser is expected to have a pre-appraisal dialogue before she appraises her reportee to understand how the year has gone and what went well and what could have been done better.  Many appraisers do not take this step seriously and even give it a slip. In this step, the employee is expected to speak and the manager listen.

The appraisee fills in the form and based on the understanding of the same, the appraiser assesses the employee.  This then becomes a one sided appraisal as the manager has not been able to return to the other side of the story.  It may be said that principle of natural justice, wherein you give a chance to defend yourself before being judged has not been followed.

In the next step, the manager assesses the performance of the employee and fills in her comments and feedback to the employee.  This could possible be discussed in an appraisal group and then it is time for the manager to give feedback to her employee.  The manager is expected to fix a date and time and preferably do a face to face feedback session.  Most managers do it casually and in an informal setting like a canteen over a cup of tea.  I recently met a manager, who stated that his boss met him for breakfast and gave him feedback in exactly five minutes.  This negates the very purpose of a feedback session. In this step, the manager is expected to speak and the employee listen.  The manager is expected to give feedback with real life examples of what went right and what could have been done better.

The appraisal is expected to be complete, when the manager sits with the employee and agrees on the targets for the next year and also the development actions.  This enables the employee to focus on key areas during the next year and also helps the employee to take ownership of his development.  This could be reviewed periodically with at least one review every six months.

The real conflict arises when the appraiser and the appraisee have opposing view points on the performance of the appraisee.  This conflict could be resolved by asking for clear examples of high and low performance.  It can also be substantiated by feedback from peers and internal or external customers.  This may help the employee to get a realistic feedback and also take necessary steps for the next year to improve.

In most organisations, performance appraisal becomes a ritual and not so liked phenomenon.  This is mainly because managers are not trained and do not possess the necessary skills to listen, appraise and give feedback.  Both the appraiser and the appraisee dread this process and want to get over it more to tick a box then to celebrate the process.

As in the photo above, two way communication is critical for a successful appraisal dialogue. Listening more than speaking by the manager may facilitate a rich conversation.

One can make a performance management process rich in content and delivery by honing the skills of the employee and the manager.  Each has a distinct role and has to play it effectively to ensure overall development of the employee.  The real test of a good performance dialogue could be if it is inspirational or perspirational. The day the performance dialogue becomes inspirational, we have achieved the end as much as the means to the end.

S Ramesh Shankar
December 2016

Violence in society

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Not a day passes today without a report of violence in some part of the world. Our newspapers, magazines and TV channels are brimming with headlines of violent incidents around the world. Why cannot we have peace around the world ? Why do we have rapists torturing innocent children ? Whey do we have school children wielding guns and killing innocent people ? Why do terrorists attack innocent citizens ?

Every violent incident is reported in newspaper headlines and debated on TV channes to give sadistic pleasure to some people. I am trying to understand the root cause of this behaviour in society. I cannot believe any religion in the world propagates or supports violence. I am not well read on religions of the world,not even of Hinduism to which I belong. But my limited knowledge teaches me that no religion teaches us to practise violence in any form.

After deep reflection, I have come to the conclusion that our family, education system and societal and political values are responsible for today’s tragic state of affairs. Let me try to delve on each of these three root causes and find answers of how each of us can contribute to change this situation for our future generations.

Let us first reflect on our family system. Family is the basic unit of society. Today the foundations of family as a social institution is threatened. This is true around the world. While we may justify our moving from joint families to nuclear families due to career aspirations or individual ambitions, this has led to breaking of family as an institution. The elders in the family played the role of mentor and guide for the younger members. Today we do not have mentors or guides within the family system. The inculcation of family values is fading in society.

If we move to schools, our education system is becoming more commercial than educational. The sole objective of most of the schools and colleges is to make money. They are less concerned about producing the future citizens of their country. Educational institutions have failed to maintain standards and inculcate values in their students. If at all students learn that earning money and that too at any cost is one of the prime objectives of individuals in society. Educational institutions need to partner with parents and society to inculcate the right values in the younger generations.

Political parties and social groups are perpetuating violence in some form or the other. While in power they do everything to suit their convenience at the cost of society. When out of power they obstruct the working of the government and support violence in every form so that government in power earns a bad name. This is further accentuated by the apathy of the citizens. We are willing to accept the violence and crime against innocent citizens by the rogues of society. These rogues do not have any religion or nationality. They are criminals and have no place in society. They continue to thrive because of political support from all shades of society. We cannot even call them animals as that would be an insult to animals. Animals are more faithful to humans than such unscrupulous elements in society.

While fire may symbolise violence in society, we need to find ways to put off the fire by our actions and use it only for prayers and peaceful purposes as in the photo above.

What can we do as citizens ? In my view, we can play the role of mentors to our children and younger members of our family to inculcate the right values. We can promote and support educational institution which produce great citizens for the future and boycott those which commercialise education. We can boycott politicians and political parities which supports rapists, murderers and corruption in public life. This can be done by our participating in every election and voting for honest citizen to be our representatives in legislatures and parliament. Every political party has honest members and we need to support and promote them.

It is time to wake up and take charge ? My 3 simple steps are just nascent ideas. What do you think ? What are your ideas ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Role Reversal


As we grow up as kids, we all are in awe of our parents.  We adore them and think they are everything to us.  We respect them, serve them and even role model their behaviour in our everyday life.  They become the standard for most things we do in life.  We consult them and seek their advice in any dilemma or major decisions in life.  This continues till the day we stand on our own feet.  

As we become independent, we start believing that the world is in our control.  We may not disrespect them but tend to take decisions on our own.  Our parents are proud of our independent nature and they let go their control over us.  We gain confidence and lead our own lives in our own way.

We get married and our spouse enters our lives.  She/He contributes equally to our well being and participates in all our decision making processes.  Some of us continue to seek advice from our parents even at this stage as we respect their acumen.  Then we bear kids and many a time move away from our homes in view of career compulsions.  This not only makes us physically away from our parents but also tends to emotionally distance us.

Our parents continue to believe that we are connected with them emotionally and we will take care of them for the rest of their lives.  But suddenly, the pressures of work , family commitments and the demands of our careers takes us farther away from them.  They are left lonely at home and mostly to fend for themselves.  Many a time , as children, we do not have the time or the intent even to visit them leave alone take care of  all their needs.

Suddenly, our parents feel the vacuum in their lives.  They feel helpless and not taken care of.  They do not look upon us for our monetary support.  They are more interested in our emotional support.  We think we have done our duty by sending some money every month or by providing a lot of material support for their physical convenience.  We do not realize that at this stage of their life, they look for emotional well being rather than material comforts.

I have always wondered why this change as the roles reverse in our lives.  Why do we not realize that this is a cycle of life and one day we will be in their position too.  What happens to all their contributions to our success in life ? Why do we become less grateful to them ? Why does selfish interest make us forget to be grateful to our parents, who have made us what we are today ?

May be I do not have the answers but I do have many questions.  May be I can be different now and in the future.  What can make us realize that this is the core of the Indian culture.  How can we sustain and preserve it for our future generations ? Can I commit to be different and be a role model for my children and grand children to follow ?

Even today, there are many good people, who take care of their parents( like my aunt in the picture above taken care by her son and daughter in law) and I salute them.

S Ramesh Shankar