How do you handle a bad appraisal?
With April almost coming to an end, most of the people have received the results of their appraisals. While the lucky few are celebrating, many are not happy with the crumbs thrown at them. The question that needs to be asked here is, what can be done about it?
How many of you document your work?
Ask yourself: How much time does it take you to prepare your appraisal report? Do you frantically search dozens of files/your calendar to figure out what you did the whole year? If you haven’t met your target, do you know exactly why? Was it lack of coordination, untimely approvals and executions or just poor judgement?
Tip for this year: Prepare weekly reports before your manager asks for it. Numbers/data, especially if they are in your favour, make a big difference. If not, you need to figure out why they are not reflecting your work. In this multitasking world we don’t remember what we had for breakfast, how can we remember what work we did the last week unless we document it?
Your communication with your line manager and team members should always be recorded on emails.
Be wary of organisations that discourage such practices. From roles and responsibilities, targets, approvals, changes in plan and execution to complaints, concerns and information exchanges, everything needs to be on record for you to track your progress and build your case.
Do you settle for the crumbs or go for the bigger piece?
Most organisations often start discouraging employees 4 to 6 months prior to the appraisal. Leaders, managers, trophy employees and HR will drop hints on how bad the numbers look and that no one should even think about a raise, forget promotion. Then a month before the appraisals you will hear about poor performances, few people will get fired or quit. The disapproving looks from managers will keep you on your toes.
The stage is set, you will start getting nervous, fear of losing the job is greater than not getting the ideal raise. During appraisals, you will sweat and fumble. Your manager will tell you how he/she fought for you despite the low numbers. Then, you will receive an email that you got a 10% raise. First, you will be relieved that you didn’t get fired, then slowly, the demotivation will creep in. All that hard work for a few thousand bucks? Chances are, your productivity and performance will actually take a hit.
This is the part where you pull yourself together and prepare for “The Negotiation”. If your report reflects your work and the numbers are not as bad as they have been made out to be, you got a chance to turn this around.
Be realistic about your contribution, achievements and abilities.
Here’s what people, I interacted with, have to say:
Negotiate like you have nothing to lose
If it goes right, you will get what you want and if it doesn’t, there are still endless possibilities to work with. Be calm and confident, not arrogant. Go through your report, and try to make the line manager feel at ease with you. Discuss the challenges and how you are going to resolve them. Convey what kind of support you need, which is that 20% or 30% raise. There are various ways to negotiate, it depends on your situation, your relationship with your manager and of course, how your image has been painted by him/her. Be prepared for all kinds of reactions, criticism, gyaan and justifications. Be cool as a cucumber, professional and polite during your meeting. State the facts to impress upon them why you are an important asset. Listen to their side of the story as well, even if you don’t want to.
Take a stand
Now, it really depends on your situation whether you want to stay back and change the system or just walk away. Or you can just “go for the head”… Meet the CEO if no one else is paying attention to your concerns. I watched Avengers Endgame just before I started writing this post (well, I couldn't stop myself) and it made me realise some of the things lacking in our professional sphere and in us. The qualities that leaders, managers and employees must inculcate for the system to evolve and work for all. They sure talk about it but how many do actually practice what they preach in the need of the hour?
Things we should learn from the Avengers, just like us, they struggled and got the raw end of the deal but they kept fighting.
Leadership - Captain America was a nobody before he became one of the greatest superheroes. All he had was a pure heart, courage and the will to do the right thing. As a leader, he never felt insecure that someone else will take his job. He pushed people to become the best version of themselves. Not only did he inspire them but also took hits for his team at every stage. No matter how bad the situation, he always took care of his team and led them to victory.
Teamwork - no matter what your differences are, you work together. Imagine if Avengers were like some of our colleagues or bosses. They would never have accomplished anything. There would be no Avengers! When you go to work every day, strive to work together, support each other and fight for your project/assignment and your team no matter what.
Keep fighting, whatever it takes - Life was never meant to be easy. Struggles, challenges and failures help us evolve. It is our job to grow into stronger, better individuals and professionals. If you have worked hard and really believe you did your job, then fight for it. Try to connect with your manager, senior management and HR, get them on the same page. But if you are being treated unfairly still, you need to rise and voice your opinion without fear.
People can play all the dirty politics they want and move on. But not us! If you must lose, lose the insecurities, the voice that keeps telling you to walk over others. Lose the urge to backbite and take credit for someone else’s hard work. If you see injustice happening around you, call it out. Take a stand and face the culprits instead of choosing ignorance and apathy. If your organisation believes in honesty, it will eventually pay off and if it doesn’t then it needs to work on it. Worst comes to worst, you will have to quit but that’s better than encouraging unethical practices.
Sacrifice - Everybody is trying to put food on the table for their family, trying to rise in a world where people keep pulling them down. If fighting for your colleague, your team or your employee and standing by them means you might lose, do it anyway. If stepping back and letting your colleague take the lead means they will rise and take your team and the organisation ahead, then do it. You are not the only one facing harsh realities of life, help others. You cannot hope for a better future if you are not willing to make a few sacrifices along the way.
We can read thousands of articles on negotiation skills and hear millions of views, but each situation is different. One size doesn’t fit all. Observe and analyse your own situation objectively. Just remember: Move out of your comfort zone, work on your self-confidence and have the courage to face your situation no matter how bad it seems.