Are you a Laissez-faire Leader?

The High Call of Church LeadershipIn our world today, a significant part of our workforce values freedom, demonstrates self-confidence and sets high ambitions. This phenomenon is not restricted to the white collar workforce, rather all-pervasive. Leaders  having the experience of directed people and having seen their managers directing teams in a certain way, find the changing environment discomforting. They are trying to readjust their styles and adapt to the new situation. It is common knowledge for a leader to practice clear communication while delegating tasks, but the trick lies in the manner of delegation, the tasks are organized and distributed.

Micro-managing or Hands-on Leadership?

Leaders in their quest to be clear, get highly task-focused at times. They tend to break down the goals into miniature steps, direct their team members in carrying out each of those steps, measure the results and tell them what to do when the results differ from the desired goals. Is this micro-managing or leading the team hands-on?

It depends upon the context in which the leader operates, the experience and the maturity level of the team members. Let us say, the team is highly skilled and the members have a good level of understanding and co-operation. This is a good situation to adopt a laissez-faire leadership where you need the team to know the end-goal, the near-term milestones, the purpose behind achieving the milestones and the timelines. Since they know the ‘how’ and ‘what’, the leader does not need to tell them the break-down. It is good enough for the leader to keep an eye on a few parameters at an appropriate interval of time. The team needs a pat on the back at the right time; a few insights and suggestions as and when needed. However, at times, leaders in their quest of ‘being in control’ get anxious and micro-manage. They hurt the team dynamics by over-monitoring, nit-picking and meddling too much. One must know what kind of delegation works the best in the given context!

A team which is newly formed or has many freshers or relatively inexperienced members needs support and direction. Managing them by setting a high-level goal, defining the objectives and a process might not sound wrong. However, the team could potentially feel lost, un-cared for and dull given this style of delegation. They need a style of hands-on leadership where the leader is always eager and available to help the members on-demand, coaching real time, enthusing the team when a task is done well and course-correcting when needed. In this context, the leader isn’t micro-managing, rather showing hands-on leadership.

Are you abdicating your responsibility by Laissez-faire style?

One argues that the laissez-faire style of leadership could create a lot of free time for the leader if the primary responsibility of delivering the results is passed on to the Direct Reports.

Experienced people look for independence in decision-making and a certain amount of latitude in going about achieving their goals. Hence, the top boss has to provide the space for them to function and steer their respective teams towards the predefined goals.

Given this context, the top boss has to find a way of adding value by providing the necessary encouragement to his team crafting a space to support them and continuously evolving it in tune with the challenges that they face. This is easier said than done since this space that we are talking about, is fuzzy and more often than not, determined by the dynamics in external environment.

A leader fails miserably when he passes on all his responsibilities in the name of delegation and takes on the administrative role of aggregating information and presenting them to the others. The team stops looking up to him and relating to the larger purpose behind the goals. It loses momentum and often looks forward to holidays, breaks and off-sites. This is worst that can happen to any team.

The Leader has to be playing alongside his team.

Every game has multiple stakeholders and there are umpteen challenges. The leader has to be playing alongside his team or the concerned member in the team solving the tough issues rather than merely being an observer.

It is easy to divide a target into a few parts and assign each part to a member in the team. However, the leader’s job doesn’t end with it. Rather, it starts right there. The critical contributions of the leader must be in creating an environment for the team to succeed, providing the right strokes of rewards and reprimands, getting hands-on to solve an issue or create a process or a system. The energy levels, confidence and the determination of the team must be held up by the leader.

Laissez-faire works well. But, there is no one particular style that works for all the situations. While the leader delegates, one must know what to delegate, how to monitor and what to get one’s hands dirty with.

How about the leader being a facilitator?

ciel blog - facilitative leadership

Every leader is invested with some authority, given the command over a set of resources and asked upon to deliver predefined results. Leaders make decisions each day how to marshal their resources. Some of them arrive at the decisions themselves and make announcements to their team. Some of them involve others in the team and arrive at an action plan by consultation with them. And some of them empower the others in their team to take the decisions required to achieve the results. Which style is better than the other? Does one style work most of the time?

Adapt to the market!

Today’s time has heightened economic uncertainty. Customers are increasingly discerning and in constant need of speedy action; they are looking for maximizing the value that they derive from the supplier. The environment is highly competitive and the boundaries in the world are getting highly complex due to socio-political changes all over. Technology has been changing fast and disrupting not only the internal environment of a firm but also the marketplace. Given this context, it is near impossible for any leader to be able to comprehend all relevant information, arrive at the insights and conclude the action plan. The erstwhile leader was considered a superhero who had all the wisdom and prowess to decide the course of the journey; the team followed him. However, the macho style of leadership which was commonplace a decade ago does not work now. One has to necessarily discuss the state of affairs with the others in the team and co-create the path to the destination.

Telling style or directive style is not going to work any more unless the situation is simply a task-based decision which has limited risk on the ultimate results. Rather the leader of today needs to show empathy, trust and respect the members of the team; be listening deeply. That is facilitating the team.

One size doesn’t fit all!

There are situations in the team which are unique to an organization and the leader of the team. For example, many members in the team could be new and the team could be establishing the practices and norms for their performance. Another situation could be that the person is a first-time leader or a young manager; most members of the team could be inexperienced. The organization could be a start-up. In each of these situations, the demands on the leader are not only to get a set of tasks done but also to build the team. Hence, one needs to balance between directive style to complete the tasks and democratic style to build ownership.

On the other hand, if the organization is established, the leader is experienced and the members of the team have a track record of performing well, the leader’s style should be largely delegation and empowerment to the others in the team. The leader largely should be happy with information coming in at regular intervals rather than intervening every now and then to take stock and direct next course of action.

It is impossible to prescribe a leadership style without taking into consideration the internal dynamics of the team and the extent of risk posed by the situation towards achieving the ultimate goal. However, irrespective of the style, any situational leadership these days has to be that of facilitation.

The leader has to facilitate in such a way that the members in the team have to be clear about the end goal, the processes to follow and the rationale of doing what they are expected to do. They value freedom and independence; but do not expect to be left alone to learn swimming by themselves. They expect appropriate amount of coaching and guidance along the way to reach their full potential. The leader has to facilitate all of these along the way!

Facilitating Course-Corrections:

One of the important roles that the leader performs is to keep the ship steady and safe on the course. Given the context of our times, the leader has to move fast, negotiate sharp turns and create alternate paths creatively. Driving these change programs is one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. This gets exciting when the pace of change is fast in the external environment as well as internally.

The leader constantly looks at the results and the process if everything ran as expected. More often than not, things have to change : they may be the metrics, the benchmarks, the process, the equipment or the raw materials. When there are changes in the external environment such as government policies, technology, the approach of the business partners or the competition, the need for change becomes all the more complex.

It is critical that the others in the team get involved in observing such trends, analyzing them and making course corrections. Such programs are critical for the leader to initiate so that the changes are co-created, co-owned and hence, implementation on the ground gets better. While the top boss cannot abdicate his responsibility of delivering the results, it is important to facilitate these change initiatives across the the entire spectrum of leadership in the firm rather than mere announcement of change measures and asking the team to implement them.

The leader’s authority in the current times do not mean much unless there is active facilitation. Let’s take these on!

Are you a disruptive leader?

ciel blog disruptive leadership

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Lord Buddha, Prophet Muhammad and some more such people challenged the status quo, traversed the uncharted path and created history. I am sure, there are million others who tried to emulate a similar path, had the ambition to drive such major changes, were passionate but did not make the cut. Why?

Do you keep an eye on what is coming?

In the business world, we have seen challenges faced by organizations like Kodak, Blackberry and Nokia. Their Boards had learned and capable leaders; had access to the best advisors and experts that one can think of. Still, they did not see what was coming. Their bets did not work in their favour. They were slow to disrupt the status quo and missed the bus. Reports say that Fortune 500 list in 2010 does not have 40% of those listed in Fortune 500 in the year 2000. So, 40% lost their way in a matter of just one decade. And at the same time, there are leading institutions like GE, Coca Cola, Exxon Mobil, 3M, Citigroup, Ford Motors, Kellogg, Xerox and many more who have lived more than 100 years already! There must be something right that the Boards of these companies have done to weather various storms that came their way.

Leadership in these organizations have continuously challenged the status quo and examined what lays ahead. They did not fear to chart new paths. They watched the developments in various industry sectors closely and connected the dots to come up with new possibilities. They listened to various stakeholders. They were not scared to try various new initiatives and fail in some of them. They kept discovering new formulations.

If we have to talk about the current times, we see new technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, robotics; social changes such as rise of self-centricity, right-of-centre approach, radicalisation and so on. It does not matter if you are in the field of education, transport, food, health, chemicals, machinery, energy, infrastructure or technology. Any of these changes staring at us is likely to challenge the business model. If we see this ahead of the others, we can win!

Does your team care about it?

In an organization, it is not enough if the leader sees or suspects what is coming. People at all the levels of leadership need to believe that status quo has to be challenged and they have to open their minds to new vistas of doing things. The top boss has to be communicating across the rank and file in the organization about the need of being unassuming and looking at the external world. It has to be in the DNA of the organization.

Some leaders love stability, believe in making small course corrections along the journey and accordingly drive those behaviours in their teams. There is nothing wrong in this approach if the ship is sailing in a calm sea. However, given the fact that our business environment has been dynamic, it is impossible that an organization will not encounter choppy waters every now and then. A bit of chaos is the order of the day. The leaders must learn how to stay calm in the midst of a chaos and at the same time, they must be enthusiastic and dynamic to look through the window and spot opportunities as well as challenges.

What matters is Execution!

It is not enough to have the top boss keeping an eye on what is coming and aligning the leadership at all levels about the need to look at the external world. While those are the first two essentials, the most critical aspect in the jigsaw is execution.

The leaders have to determine what needs to be done and how it will be done. They need to agree on the results to expect and define the timeline. Responsibilities have to be fixed and the team driving the disruption has to be in the direct visibility of the top boss of the organization. Frequent communication on the progress of the project has to be all over the place to increase visibility and drive the message home that the organization cares for innovation and is taking to uncharted territories.

It is equally important that the leaders know when to abandon the project for there are several possibilities to disrupt. It is not easy to let go of initiatives created with a lot of efforts, emotion and fanfare. However, a significant large number of disruptive steps do not bear fruit, but all of them teach valuable lessons. It is important that the leaders have the courage to wind down projects, announce the closure transparently and protect the people who worked hands-on.

Let’s do it!

Are you a Quiet Leader?

ciel blog - quiet leader

We grow up with various stereotypes and accordingly, we look up to certain kind of leaders as our heroes. Organizations tend to choose and promote people who are boisterous, loud and confident. It is believed that such a person is likely to inspire and lead the flock purposively, keep them together and deliver the results that the organization wants. We would have seen personalities who are on the quieter side and unable to create an impression in the first interaction. Social norms work in the minds of the audience and often they lose out when pitted against a verbal enthusiast. However, I have seen poor results delivered by the team led by the seemingly ideal person. Why is it so?

Context matters… Leader must adapt!

Situations differ and accordingly the challenges before a leader vary. One has to be flexible to be able to adapt to the situation. You may be loud and dominating; leading your team from the front and in the spotlight. Alternately, you may be quiet, analytical and empowering; prefer to be in the background. Neither of the two type is ideal! A leader is a human; the followers are human too. Hence, the group dynamics and the leader’s personal style determine how well one is able to adapt to the situation.

The leader has to invest the time and space to think about the context, recognize the situation, involve the team in arriving at the decision and building ownership of the execution steps. These steps sound very textbook style. Often, the situation could be such that the leader does not have the wherewithal to go through these steps. And in some cases, personal style of the individual comes on the way of following this style.

Results take a beating when the team expects consultation and participation whereas the leader follows his own agenda to arrive at the decision and merely communicates them down the line. Given the composition of today’s workforce, team members often want to understand the rationale of a decision and participate in the process; they do not like to be instructed and watched over their shoulders. Given this context, it is more likely that the leader cannot afford to have a dominating, invincible and instructive style. Similarly, there are situations where the house is on fire and the leader is expected to be on his toes, taking quick calls and leading from the front. So, the style of being participative, passive and consensus-driven will not work.

One-size-fits-all does not work. One has to adapt to the context!

Make choices!

One of the most important characteristics that defines a leader is the choices one makes. While the speed of decision making, the process of arriving at the decision and the way it is communicated are important, the first and most critical factor behind the success of a leader is the decision one takes. Normally, there is a set of alternate paths which lie before a leader and one chooses to traverse one of them.

Isn’t it frustrating to see the leader delaying a decision, procrastinating, unwilling to bite the bullet? We need our leader to be confident and calm in evaluating various alternates; we need him or her to be charismatic and creative in bringing up new possibilities before us. It is a unique combination of self-confidence, charisma and pragmatism that we look for. Again, easier said than done! How often we come across such people?

We find the macho and communicative boss who believes in speed and his instinct in processing the information, takes a call fast and pushes the team to get ahead. It surely raises the confidence of the team, boosts team spirit and fires everyone up. When the going gets tough, the boss needs to stay strong and calm to weather the storm, make course-corrections and sustain optimism. We have seen such macho leaders fail at times.

Quiet leaders are often stereotyped as people who are slow, tentative and selfish. However, from another perspective, the same actions might be sure-footed, determined and cautious. So pragmatically speaking, our boss needs to be balanced in his approach to a problem so that the choice is made quickly; communicated with vigour; and arrived after giving it the right amount of thought and experience. No one type of leader does it better than the other!

If you love solitude…

As we can see, there is no one particular style of leadership that works better than the other. Just in case you love solitude, prefer to write than talk, hate superficiality, embrace deep-diving, stay calm and confident in times of crisis as well as jubilation, you need not worry about your prospects of being successful as a leader. You have great strengths which need to be leveraged!

It is easy for you to listen actively, empathise, give credit to your team, put your team first, stay poised and find solutions. It is important for you to communicate often, show the way forward and exude optimism. Your team trusts you, values your position and looks up to you for inspiration!

Watch out if you are the boss’s Favorite!

Image result for boss's favorite

We all know, bosses have their favorites. They are human beings and so do the people who work with them. It is natural that the boss likes and trusts someone more than the others. You become first among equals, the go-to-person for prestigious project, a critical decision or a crisis. You enjoy his proximity and often become a part of the inner circle that has the knowledge of classified information. You feel privileged and start enjoying a special status in the team. Is life a bed of roses for you?

Are you able to drive Change programs effectively?

Since you are the go-to-person for your boss, your plate remains full all the time. You are undoubtedly important for your team and the organization. You get to work on challenging assignments and can potentially learn a lot from these assignments. However, there is a catch here!

Problems in the organization are solved not by just one person but by a team and often by a cross-functional team, especially if you are in a role that has a significant strategic bent to it. The boss’s favorite is a spotlight in the organization and is looked upon with a range of emotions such as jealousy and awe. When you are in the situation of getting things done by collaborating with people from other teams, you experience bottlenecks. They do not open up to you; some of them start sabotaging your intent in a stealth mode. You start feeling frustrated and shooting from the shoulder of your boss. It often back-fires especially when you are talking to people from other teams who do not report to your boss.

You are unable to get the things done as per the plan. Often, you do not get the complete picture of the ground reality because people are not forthcoming with you. You are unable to identify the root cause of the problem you are supposed to solve or give those critical inputs to your boss. You fail to deliver the business impact. So, do not oversell your clout! Stay modest and do not take advantage of your special status.

Are you developing your career?

You are protected well by your boss, enjoy a big elbow room in many things related to work and get to solve the meaty challenges. Does that mean that you are developing your capabilities and increasing your worth? Your boss could have a rough patch in your organization and might fall out of the main stream. Your boss might become cold and distant suddenly. The peers of your boss could come to the lime light and might have opportunities which are better for you. But, your deep loyalty to your boss could come on the way of you being trusted by the front-running leaders in the organization. What happens to you in that situation?

Secondly, as you work through the maze of your organization, you being the boss’s favorite tend to be the spokesperson of your boss and his ideas. This happens unconsciously; over a period of time, this leads to you being branded as someone who toes the boss’s line, lacks the depth and confidence to form opinions and speak one’s mind. This kind of an image harms your future prospects and potentially compromises the kind of recommendations that you are likely to get from the others in future.

Each passing year, you must analyze if you are increasing your experience by a year or strengthening your abilities and deepening your expertise. Staying as a sidekick will not necessarily enrich your abilities unless you are delivering on assignments which have increasingly greater impact on your organization. Your title might change and rewards might increase; you might deepen your roots in the organization. However, the most critical factor to analyze is to check if you are producing greater impact each year. If not, you must look out for career options within or outside your current employer!

Are you hungry for approval?

Many a times, we have noticed the school kid in us want to be in the good books of the teacher. We look for the pat on the back, the stars on our books and so on! We want to be the apple of the teacher’s eye. We behave well by following all her instructions and do our best to shine in the tests that she takes. Are we carrying the same to our workplace?

It is important that we introspect and understand who we are. In case, we look for the praise or the abrogation all the time, we fail to stand on our own feet. As a professional aspiring to break into the higher echelons of an organization, it is important that we learn to think independently and present those thoughts firmly. At the same time, we have to learn to stay modest and sensitive so that the bosses do not feel hurt to hear another perspective rather welcome them.

Being the favorite of the boss puts us on a pedestal. However, we must make sure that we are growing well by increasing the business impact that we deliver and build the social equity in the organization at the same time.

How to provide feedback to your team members?

ciel blog - how-to-offer feedback to employees

One of the most critical contributions that a leader must make to the team members is to provide feedback. The environment in the team exudes positivism when the feedback is received with openness and is worked upon by the team members.

Most organizations and their senior leaders like to take pride in the fact that their organization promotes a culture of performance and meritocracy. However, this intent does not get translated into action because they do not invest adequate energies in building an environment where employees feel safe to voice their opinions and speak up when they face discomfort or a challenge. Employees must feel adequately empowered to perform their duties and trust their leaders for their judgement on a day to day business. Further, they need to believe in the strategic vision of the organization for its long-term survival.

Set the goals right!

Given this background, goals or targets are the starting point of a performance-based culture. Leaders must define broad contours of the goal setting process and live it in a transparent manner. The organization needs to see that goals are being set fairly and there is a room for discussion on the goals. Leaders must take care to explain the rationale of the goals, induce confidence in their folks about achieving them and invite them to discover their strengths which can be leveraged to fulfil the goals.

Organizations build systems and processes that reward and recognize performance against the targets. Hence, goals become a critical variable in the equation and determine the bonus or the variable pay. While some leaders like to set audacious goals, their team members might feel scared of these and resign to their fates. In this unfortunate scenario, the leader fails in the critical duty of listening to the employees, addressing their concerns and giving them feedback about the possibilities. Goals need to be set in a collaborative manner; employees must discover their potential and feel empowered to achieve them rather than feeling the pressure of big targets.

Discuss performance every now and then!

Annual performance feedback is passé now. It has outlived its utility. Given the times that we live in and the nature of the workforce, the supervisor must not wait for the performance review event to appear on the calendar or the HR department to remind him about it. Rather, it needs to happen as often as required. One should sit down with the team members for a one-on-one discussion to review the efforts put in and the results achieved, as often as required.

Most often, leaders think that fun activities, birthday celebrations, family days and so on engage employees well and productivity improves as a result of these. Another common misconception would be that if an employee shows up each day and seems to work 9am to 5pm at her desk, she is focused and dedicated. However, the fact is that the fun activities are mere hygiene factors and do not guarantee a positive impact on the productivity.

An employee who doesn’t seem distracted at work is someone who cares for the pay-check and not necessarily, someone who is committed to the cause of the organization. She may not walk the extra mile without being pushed by the manager to keep customers happy. Leaders must be clear about this and act accordingly. The employee who walks the extra mile must be provided with clear feedback that she is valued the most. Leaders must invest their best efforts in developing this exceptional talent so that the organization grows stronger over a period of time.

Employees who generally meet their goals and care about the purpose of the organization are very valuable for the company. However, they might not have hitched their hearts and minds to the leadership and its vision; they may be at the stage of evaluating various aspects of the company’s environment and how well they fit into it. And similarly, the leader might be in the phase of observing and evaluating the commitment levels of the employee. This is a transition phase for both the employee and the organisation; the leaders should be smart enough to understand this phase of engagement and provide the necessary support to make the desired change. In either case, the employee must receive the feedback about his/her performance and feel cared for.

Similarly, there are employees who achieve results but do not demonstrate the behaviours that the organization desires. This is a tough situation for the manager to offer feedback and make early corrections. Most often, managers fail to demonstrate the leadership character in such cases and let the person get away with the excesses. Again here, the feedback has to be clear that the person has to shape up fast or leave at the earliest. Tough but one has to bite the bullet!

There are employees who miss their targets often. Leaders need to evaluate if their efforts and the behaviours are in alignment with what the organization expects. If the results as well as the behaviours do not meet these standards, it is easy to move on. It is tough when the person shows all the right behaviours and puts in the efforts, but the results continue to be elusive. The actions of the manager are observed by one and all. People might feel that a long rope is being provided unfairly and hence, the leader has to be transparent and open about it so that the most people understand the reason.

Don’t rub it in!

Some managers take the advice of offering immediate feedback too seriously. There are bad days; things do not go right. It is obvious when one makes silly mistakes and loses. The manager need not be obsessed with the urge of offering a feedback. This is like rubbing salt on the wound and accentuating the pain further. One must judge the right time and offer feedback in such a manner that it is received and acted upon.

Offering feedback is one of the most challenging tasks a manager could face. There is no silver bullet that can be panacea for any leadership challenge. One has to gather experience by handling multiple situations, introspecting and learning from mentors and seniors.

Annual Performance Appraisal is Passé

ciel blog - performance appraisal

Organizations all over the world believed that performance appraisal promotes competitiveness, objectivity, transparency and fairness. Over the years in the 90’s and the following decade, organizations invested huge amount of energy in this process right from designing the system, training people to implementing it. Each year, this internal process of the organization consumes a huge amount of energy of the HR team, leadership team and the supervisors. The time of senior folks is significantly higher than that of the juniors and hence, the appraisal process is a huge cost to the organization.

Our workforce has become a lot younger with the entry of millennials and accordingly, the leaders and supervisors have been learning to adapt to the new realities of the workplace. They are learning to offer quick feedback to their teams, positive as well as negative. Given the new developments at workplace and the costly nature of the appraisal process, leaders have started evaluating the returns on the investment on the process. A couple of years ago, large organizations in technology and consulting domains kicked off the revamp.

Let Performance Appraisal happen each day!

Today’s employee looks for fair assessment of the performance output and is open to suggestions for change in his style and behaviours. The supervisor must have the intellectual bandwidth to observe these and the necessary ability to articulate them. And most importantly, these need to be communicated at the appropriate time so that the feedback is received and acted upon. Annual appraisal process creates the setting for a discussion, but one cannot wait for the particular event to offer the feedback. Rather, it has to be a part of day to day work. Organizations must reset the expectations of their workforce to seek feedback and discuss possible changes in behaviour every now and then. Hence, the new normal on performance appraisal makes it an integral part of day to day conversation with the boss.

A typical performance appraisal discussion is a hurriedly-convened meeting by the boss. S/he normally comes ill-prepared for the discussion, offers a few generic inputs to the employee, ticks off a task on the to-do list, finds no time to record the discussions meaningfully and the employee has no means to know what gets recorded on his or her career records. I wonder if this helps the employee in his or her development; if it helps the organization in improving the performance levels at all.

Organizations do well in moving away from the half-yearly or yearly ritual of holding this process all over and spending a huge amount of energy. Rather, make it a day to day practice where the discussion is not limited to the tasks but the process, the behaviours and possible development opportunities. Employees and their supervisors have to learn this new way of engagement.

What about Measurements?

One of the most wasteful activities that happens in Performance Appraisal is to re-certify the goals of the review period and the actual achievements. And of course, many a times, the goals are not set in time and hence, there is a confusion. Sometimes, the goals are revised along the way due to several factors. Who keeps the records and digs into the past to determine the correct figures? With the advent of technology, digitization of work processes is on the rise. Hence, measuring the actuals and keeping a record of the goals is getting easier with each passing day. Organizations need to wake up to this possibility and free the performance discussions from the wastefulness. The discussions have to achieve what they are meant for – recognise the achievements, make the employee feel proud and agree on the opportunities to improve further.

Goal setting process is rigged?

The bosses set stiff targets to stretch their teams and drive higher levels of ambition. Organizations in their zest to be transparent and objective, prescribe performance scores, salary hikes and bonuses linked with achievement of targets. So, employees aggressively push for a low target to maximize their salary hike and bonus. How counter-productive it is for the organization when the negotiation of the target is not around the possibilities of achieving an ambitious goal rather on an individual’s earnings! Annual appraisal process cannot achieve this. The HR fraternity and the business leaders are trying to find a way by which the goal setting process is not rigged, rather is anchored on thinking of possibilities and ambitions.

What about salary hikes and bonuses?

Typically performance appraisal processes end with salary hikes, bonuses, promotions, new roles and goals for the next review period. Since many of these are centred on the appraisee’s personal gains, they hinder an objective discussion on performance. The employee’s mind is fixated on knowing the performance score, salary hike, bonus etc. The days from the start of the appraisal process till the final results are given to the employee are quite busy in water-cooler conversations. The organization loses momentum. Why should there be annual appraisals then?

Employees are quite alright to hear about their performance. However, the method of comparing theirs with the performance of the others in the team brings uncertainties and anxieties in their minds. Hence, organizations are moving away from the method of force-ranking performance levels and fitting the scores into a bell curve.

The new practice is to link Salary hikes, bonuses and promotions with the assessment of the individual’s performance against targets, benchmarks and potential. And appraisal discussion is not a customary annual conversation. It is a part of day to day work where the boss recognizes good deeds one to one as well as out in the open; opportunities for improvement are identified and worked upon as a matter of regular life at work. Let there not be a specific event called annual appraisal discussion.