As long as you don’t insult my intelligence :


First – 6 weeks away from blogging was great . I am very grateful to all of you who encouraged me to start blogging again .

I stopped blogging rather abruptly – after reading my posts this year, I couldn’t think of a reason why anyone would want to read most of what I post. But seeing the responses from many of you – I guess I over estimated the deficiencies if my writing .

And so I am back. I am still going to stay away from twitter for now . So please leave comments here rather than on twitter like usual .

Over the last month, one topic kept on coming up in conversations . That is about why employees and managers feel “us and them” more often than not .

I think the root cause is goal setting and performance appraisals . It is a stupid idea in general to set goals formally once a year and then check back to see if you made it or not . The CXOs of the company cannot usually foresee how the market will work in next 3 months – so how will an individual and their manager predict what has to be done for 12 months ?

When the results of appraisals are given out – many managers feel an obligation to also give a speech on the topic . This is the beginning of the trouble . Generic messages are counter productive and usually insult the intelligence of the employee . More than the actual rating and rewards – it is the insult to intelligence that irritates most employees.

Performance appraisals set the pace of disillusionment – and other managerial communications sustain it.

Say an employee has a bright idea and brings it to his manager and asks for funding . Four scenarios generally are possible

1. Manager sits on it and in a passive way make sure nothings comes off the idea.

2. Manager says he will fund it – but doesn’t do it, and eventually gives a generic reply like “This is not a priority for now”.

3. Manager dismisses the idea completely upfront with no debate

4. Manager asks proving questions to see if the idea is worth pursuing and takes it up the chain. Manager keeps employee in the loop and explains the rationale for the final decision – even if the answer is “no go “. Better managers will also coach the employee on what needs to change for the next time

The first 3 makes the employee feel that her sole purpose in life is to do what others decide for her . There is no value for her original ideas or intelligence .

Option 4 in most cases ends well – and makes the employee feel he is appreciated , and he will try harder to find a better idea next time .

Sadly, option 4 happens in only the absolute minority of cases . If this managerial behavior is properly addressed – I bet the bitterness felt by employees will be eliminated in most cases .

I will make one last point – on rewards . Why are people promoted and compensated for performance in HR cycles ? If my daughter earns straight As in class and I tell her “good job kiddo – end of your school year, I will buy you two bars of chocolate. But make sure you keep straight A’s till then “, what are the odds of this being effective parenting ?

An employee that does something for the company that benefits the company should be rewarded closely after that – at least partially . If a development team creates a product that brings in profit today , what is the rational explanation of paying them their reward after the company enjoys 6 months of that profit ?
. The typical answer from managers is “that is out policy”. Employee probably tells in her mind “stupidity is not an admirable policy” 🙂

That was a long winded way of saying whatever you do as a manager – pls don’t insult the intelligence of people at the receiving end

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14 thoughts on “As long as you don’t insult my intelligence :

  1. Hi Vijay,

    great to see you back, and interestingly again on HR topics.

    I often have the conversation with people about “Why do we do performance reviews?”. In my company we don’t. There is no research that I have been able to find that shows that annual performance reviews actually help employees.
    Ok, so if they don’t help employees, why do we (large enterprises) still do them? There is a very simple reason. Although the performance review process doesn’t help the employees, it does help HR. It clearly points out where in the organisation there is ineffective/highly effective management. A lower than average result tends not to mean that the employees are bad, but rather the management in that area needs help/training/removing.

    As a tool to help understand where management in the company is/is not providing effective management of their reports, it’s a great! That’s why it’s still there.

    If you’re hoping/expecting it to give you better results from your employees, I can only quote from an excellent Aussie film, The Castle. “Tell ‘im he’s dreaming.”

    Cheers,

    Chris

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    • Hi chris – thanks for chiming in . I have a lot of pent up thoughts on HR in general , and hence for near future you can expect some HR rants back to back from me 🙂

      I loved the quote from the movie !

      Cheers
      Vijay

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  2. I strongly agree your points. Due the reasons, More intelligence people are stop creating the innovative concepts. To avoid all this every organisations will go forward with Enterprise Gamification techniques. It will help employee growth as well as company growth.

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  3. Hi Vijay –

    Missed the blogs! Connects real well with your earlier post on managing talent. That actually helped me solve an issue that an employee had with a talent.

    Hopefully back to Chandler before year-end, then must meet.

    Johannes
    @lombardjohannes

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  4. Vijay,

    Totally agree with you. I liked the 4 points you had mentioned here. And yes the rewards must be given timely (as many companies have the Spot awards).

    Regarding the appraisal meet and goal setting, what you said is correct. There are companies who do annual appraisals and the Managers conduct the 1-1 meeting with the employee and review the employee accomplishments during the last appraisal period.They will be setting the goals for the next 12 months. The manager need not wait till the next appraisal cycle to review his employee. If he could do it at regular intervals and set short term goals, that will help the employee in getting feedback frequently and thereby develop his skills. What I do is give feedback to my employees when its required than waiting for next appraisal cycle. And it all depends on the team you work with, if its self- organized, you can save some time of yours. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Joby

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  5. Vijay,

    this is true and a mark of a good manager to show appreciation and true recognition of what their staff have accomplished. since i don’t have any official reports i might say i don’t have the problem, but since i’m dealing with others every day, i might want to show my appreciation more often even though i can’t reward them directly. your number 4 is also my favorite, but i’m also realistic enough to see that it happens 25% of the time or 1 in 4 instances on average.

    happy blogging and (eventually) tweeting.

    rgds,

    greg

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