| March 26, 2017

Redefining performance appraisal

Redefining performance appraisal
Many working professionals must have envied the recent 25% hike in salary of government staffs. However, it is the time of the year when private sector employees go through tedious performance appraisal, which will soon result in the increment of their salaries.

Performance appraisal is often viewed as extra work by many supervisors. As the end of the fiscal year approaches, supervisors are flooded with other official affairs, making them least focused on the appraisal. This results in many biases, which some employees tend to cash in by working late even if they don't have to. Others are busy being visible in their supervisor's eye. This behavior leads to regency error where supervisor uses it while appraising to recall and remember recent works of their employees, influencing his decision to rate the employee positively.
This is true in several organizations and supervisors need to do something about it. For this, one needs to start with the appraisal system itself. With the changing times, your appraisal system needs upgrades, too. The starting point would be to question if the appraisal system is actually leading to the desired goals of the department. Supervisor needs to understand that performance indicator of each employee should be aligned to the department's indicators. Meeting performance indicators is irrelevant if it doesn't meet the department goals. On this note, let's explore some of the ways we can redefine the performance appraisal system. The recommendations are based on Jobs Dynamics' consulting experience while working with various organizations in Nepal.

Treat job description a living document

"One of the candidates was hired as a marketing executive. His duties and responsibilities were well laid out. After a year, his activities were more focused on social media marketing. However, no matter how diligently he works, his performance appraisal doesn't reflect it."

The problem stated above starts with the job description (JD). Several organizations provide JD to their new employees. However, unless they're promoted to completely new position, it is never revised. We have found that the work newly hired staff do at the beginning of the job and after a year has drastic difference. The performance indicators are developed on the basis of JD issued at the beginning of the job. This leads to poor appraisal system, leaving supervisors and employee discontent with each other. So treat JD as a living document and update it every year to reflect the actual work your employees are doing.

Communicate the indicators regularly

"Employee working in one of the leading FMCG companies is a dedicated worker. He enjoys his work and has been doing all the tasks as per his JD. However, the low score he received in his appraisal always baffles him."

This echoes the reality of many employees. The problem is not the JD this time; it is about the set indicators that the employee is unaware of. Most of the time, employees aren't aware about the parameters within which they'll be assessed. The work is marketing related, except the performance indicator might be approaching an X number of clients or generating Y number of enquires. Thus, allocate sometime for frequent discussion on indicators upon which the employee is going to be appraised.

Performance improvement system

"In a recent incident, one of the supervisors of the bank communicated her junior about a constant work error. The supervisor also offered some solutions to prevent the error. But, the error rate didn't decline. However, after a few months, the error rate came down to almost zero. Now the question is, will the supervisor count this in the appraisal? Does the appraisal system have room to rate such improvement?"

As a supervisor, you should focus on improvement rather than outcomes. Your performance depends on the improvement of your juniors. Build a habit of documenting the improvement as well as errors when you witness it. This will help you during the appraisal period, eliminating regency error mentioned earlier. Rather than numbers, your observation with suitable comments and examples for improvement is more valuable to your subordinates. Don't eliminate your existing system; but don't hesitate to incorporate improvement system as well.

Give them an A

"Once, we were out with friends for dinner. After the waiter noted our orders, one of our friends gave Rs 500 to him. All of us, including the waiter, were surprised for advance tips. But then we were treated as royals that evening."

This anecdote gives an insight into how we can improve performance appraisal system in Nepal. Of course you don't have to reward your subordinates with money. However, tell them to provide full score on each parameter at the beginning of the fiscal year. After they do that, tell them to explain how they can achieve that score by the end of the fiscal year. Then tell them that the marks they have allocated for themselves will be the final marks. You'll be surprised by the end result.

You might argue that the suggestions provided above clash with the already established system. We aren't suggesting you to change your existing system. However, as a supervisor, bringing some changes in the current system is essential, especially because you know your department best. Other departments will likely benefit from your small initiative, and follow suit, too. If you incorporate these changes in the appraisal system, your employee will truly value any opportunity that lets them do what they do best every day.

The author is an associate with Jobs Dynamics Pvt Ltd, an organization driven towards providing the widest range of job solutions to people looking for work in Nepal. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..