Work culture why not a part of performance appraisal

Posted on: 2019-05-28

Work Culture – Most neglected dimension of the performance appraisal process

In my career of 16 years, I have seen many talented employees leaving their careers & high paying jobs abruptly succumbing to the pressure of internal politics & cultural issues. Why others, I have been there myself, experienced it closely. I started my career in HR & gradually moved in Operations. Throughout this journey, it has been evident that happy employees perform better. This is something, which has been discussed by many people on multiple platforms. However, what ticks for an employee is still a big question. IQ (Intellectual Quotient) drives a few people; few employees are driven by EQ (Emotional Quotient). However, most of the people driven by a combination of both. Here are 5 critical things, which I have observed/ noted out of all the exit interviews I have taken in my career.

  1. Completion Satisfaction.

This sounds more like an operational issue than emotional or cultural. Every person who works searches for some kind of completion feeling to take home. It can be as small as completing a mundane task in hand and as big as successful completion of work. While we usually celebrate big success or project completion, do we carefully design millstones for long-term projects & enjoy small victories or completion of these milestones? The answer is we do not. We forget the fact that working is more like a journey & we need to create an experience for employees. The earlier leaders start enjoying every task as a journey &appreciate little success or achievements, earlier they will contribute to the EQ of employees. It is more like small reassurance that they are on the right track & gives the motivation to keep working hard. 

  1. Learn Giving with both hands

We all have been hearing this since childhood; life is about to give & take. So if I give something (more in the context of sharing knowledge) then we should get something in return. Our wise seniors keep telling us, do not share all you know or all that you have learned with your juniors, you will quickly become replaceable. Hold a few cards of knowledge in your hands. This insecurity stops many leaders from sharing knowledge freely. Thought behind it is- If he/ she (junior) learns everything I am doing, what will I do? The answer is very simple. Learn to become a student for a lifetime. Ensure you keep increasing your knowledge base & on the other hand, ensure you keep sharing it with juniors. Passing on knowledge is more like a continuous process. All leaders need to learn giving knowledge with both hands and with a free mind. It will earn them respect. Besides, Promotions and increments are more like playing musical chairs, to get up from the chair and find a new one- you need to first find someone who can occupy your chair. Your junior must reach the strength to push you up the ladder & be promoted. On the other hand, you must be wise enough to pull him up to take up your roll. This creates the most organic growth structure in the company, which makes employees look forward to working in the long term. 

  1. Appreciate Publically, depreciate in person

Anger and stress management are bigger concerns than what we think it is. Many times we don’t realize when the discussion got heated & when we ended up accusing team members publically. Heated meetings & loud discussions voices from conference rooms are no new news. Patience at the movement of anger is most critical. The easiest solution is park discussions which are going off track and take them up on one post completion of the meeting. By not pointing out a mistake in front of other team members, the leader again gains respect. It will also encourage the culture of coming upfront and accepting a mistake, as they know it will remain between them and the senior.

Who does not like appreciation! Usually, we all wait for something remarkable to happen before we go back and appreciate our team. Many times, thought behind this is if I appreciate more often, they will not value it. Worse, they will start taking us for granted. None of this happens in reality! In fact, Appreciation opens doors for discussions. In the future, if they make some mistakes and you point it out, they will be more receptive to it as they will read you as a fair & balanced leader. When I had my first team, I followed a simple principle. Every week find out at least one reason (how much big or small, does not matter) to appreciate your team member. Appreciate at leastone person every week. Ensure you appreciate your team members in front of other team members. If you are not really, vocal- do it on email marking other team members. It can be as simple as a reply to the report sent on time saying a Good Job! Small gestures like these go a long way. The more balanced your team finds you as a leader, the more comfortable they get working with you. 

  1. Share your challenges and issues openly with your team

As a leader, I never carry an image of I-Know-Every-Thing. Do not Burdon yourself to be a superhero in front of your team. It is okay to not know a few things & it is okay to accept it in front of your team member. The way they have targets and pressures; you also have your own targets and pressures. Share your pressures, issues openly with your team. It will open doors for communication in a very big way. The team will start understanding you as a leader and will stand by you in your tough times. 

This is especially important when there is a big age gap between leader & team members. The next generation of employees is more technologically advanced and have a faster pace of learning new things. Many times, they also have better knowhow of what is happening in the world. However, none of this can replace the experience a leader has. Thus, never get insecure with the knowledge your juniors bring on the table. I appreciate it openly. If you don’t know something which they know- accept it & tell them! No harm in learning something new from your juniors. When your senior comes to you & asks you to teach something, trust me, it is a joy to behold. In turn, if they do not know something in the future- they will be more open and receptive to accept it & come back to you for learning. 

Yes, there is a chance that your juniors might read you wrong as if you know nothing if this is happening frequently. Thus, it is to lead someone, you need to ensure that your line of knowledge is longer than him or her. This will boost your confidence. If you know nine on ten things, then there is no harm to go and learn from juniors. If the ratio is anything less than that. Its time you introspect & increase your learning curve. Everyone needs a boss whom he/she can look up to. This process forms a part of that mindset. Try to reach up to team expectations.

  1. Observe & be there for them when they need you

We all are humans; we all have emotions and the world outside our work. There is a very thin line between personal space and the official space of emotions. Many a time in the quest of being professional, we forget the human touch. Be it business or work, be it a product based company or services. Everything boils down to “By-People-For-People”. No-one can be a performer all 365 days. There are high tide performance days and there are low tide performance days for each employee. Learn to observe this. If a team member is not being his/her usual self- do mention it to them & also mention, it is okay. It is okay to be low sometimes. 

Knowing that your boss can give you the personal space you need is the biggest comforting thing any leader can do for his/her subordinates. Do not be intrusive about what is happening in their lives. Just let them be when they need it. If the phase continuous for longer, help them understand work-life balance and ensure they cover the minimum required. Offer them to be there as a listening, ear if they need it.

 The conclusion

We all need to remember the fact that we are working with people... humans and not machines. Humans who have emotions, who have chosen to spend a better time for their bright day with you. Working for someone or some company is a part of their life. However, it is not the only thing in their lives. There is a big world outside the office waiting for them. We need to ensure that they go back to their world happily every day. As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure they go home with the feeling that they made the right choice by choosing you as a boss & choosing this company as an employer. This is a continuous process and we all need to put efforts day in and day out. Every day is a new start. I appreciate someone today. Tell them you value their contribution. If you manage to create even one smile in a day, it’s a great start. 

HR Practices Article written by - Anjali Kishore Limaye, HR and Operations Generalist at a company in Mumbai, India. Organizational Behavior Enthusiast likes studying and changing companies culture for happiness and better performance.