Monday, March 20, 2006

Appraisals and ratings

One of the favourite topics of most IT people.

I am also being one of them suffering from this appraisalomnia. As I am suffering from it, I though let me write about it and let others also share it (of course, if somebody reads it).

Goal settings and appraisals is one among several dreadful procedures followed in IT industry and not just IT industry but also employees from several other industries are victim of this. Now, I know, those who always get good ratings are going red with anger, but just read on...

Basically, if you are able to set your specific targets, then since you yourself (of course, along with your boss) set them and you will be rewarded based on them, you are supposed to get motivated and perform better or at your best level. So let's analyze all the fallacies one by one.

Step 1: Setting the goals
You discuss with your boss and then with agreement of both, your boss sets goals for you for the quarter or the half year. Nice and clean you say... Let me ask, have you ever been able to follow your plans as you laid out the first time? It never happens isn't it? Mr. Murphy is one of the most powerful people in the world, and he does strike. If Murphy doesn't strike, wise people know that there are enough tricks in the bag so that your boss can set goals such that even if you outperform all your goals, you won't go much beyond 3 or at the most 4, never 5. One can see the goals and say that whether you can get 5 or not.

Step 2: Self-Assessment
I am skipping some small steps in between. After you have set your goals then end of the quarter or the half-year (well, not exactly end, just before the end, so that your boss can appraise you till the end and the reason why he has to finish appraisals just before the end is these so called fast communication IT companies need 2-3 months to process these ratings finally in order to decide compensation for employees. For a benchmark this time taken for processing is more than what thousand of papers of engineering students are checked and results are declared in Mumbai University. That should give you an idea, how fast these IT companies themselves are.)
Coming back to the main point, here the poor soul must decide what rating he would give for himself, he gives full, the boss will definitely cut it down and if he gives less, boss can say well you yourself given it how can I give you more than that? This is really important step as the comments you write must be tricky enough to justify whatever rating you give to yourself.
I guess you are understanding that things are not as simple and straight forward as they look to be.

Step 3: Ratings by the appraiser (immediate boss)
Question number 1 is are you in the good books of your boss? Well, if you are not, no matter how well you have done, you can't get a good rating. The world is fascinating, no matter what rating your boss gives you, he can always have an argument for it. Sometimes you do good work and still get 3 , he can always say " well, 3 is not a bad rating". The rating can be absolute or relative based on his convenience. This is not the only tricky part, remember you have to prove, that you have done so and so work, now depending on the goal that have been set for you (oops! sorry that have been set BY you) this can be very difficult. Come on, one of my friends have one of his goal set as based on customer appreciation, now just think how many times is customer going to appreciate you, and if he does are you going to keep log, that Mr. So and so called/written/told me that I am doing good work, and even if you keep, who is going to believe you? You can't prove intangible results, can you? but they are often part of the goals.

There are more steps, but this post is already getting too long, and anyways next steps are mostly formalities so leave it here.

Now, there are two final ticks in this trade called "Curve Fitting" and "Rationalization or Normalization" to ensure that your ratings can be scaled down even if they first look good. Curve fitting is like relative grading, so if there is some superperformer in the group and even if you do magnificent work but not as good as him, you can't get 5. All team members must be fit on the curve from 3 to 5, so if you have excellent team, all of them performing very well, don't be hopeful of good ratings. The other trick is that even if you have got 4 and on the center level depending upon the distribution of ratings, at center level your rating can be reduced (unfortunately here, it's not your boss' fault, so you can't blame him) so that compensation can be distributed well (don't ask me what does distributing well means, meaning changes accordingly)

I remember one of very senior members argued on my comments on goal setting that; so many people getting rating of 4 (that means performing better than 100%) , isn't it good? (Well, first thing, if that is the scenario, our company must be super-effcient and benchmark for productivity, but it, in fact scores less in productivity compared to some of the similar companies. So, there must be something terribly wrong with the system, isn't it. It shows that we are super-efficient, but reality is something else)

Conclusion: Percentage of people getting demotivated exceeds many times the people who get motivated. Hence the system results in exactly opposite behaviour to what it supposed to do. so the system sucks and ...........
(Ha ha ha ha, for these two lines, I told you the whole story)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mystery called Love

Love is perhaps one of the biggest mystery in this world. It is most common and yet unexplained phenomena.
Just now, I read a forward giving message " don't look for people you love... Look for people who love you"
Love does not just mean the boy and girl love, includes family, friends also.
However the boy and girl love (the other combinations are also implied, so don't get offended if you belong to them) is the hot discussion everywhere (it always is, whole of Bollywood and Hollywood runs on it) and let's just continue with it.
Well, can you really predict that so and so will fall in love with so and so, impossible! isn't it?
Well, I am so stupid that I can not understand what exactly this love is what but at the same time I am not stupid enough to call physical attraction as love. However, if you are great fan of hollywood and bollywood movies it might prove to be very hard to argue against the fact that in many cases(well! I am just being diplomatic or rather politically correct) physical attraction is trigger to this so called love.
In most situations (which I have seen), it starts when the two characters of the story meet each other for some or the other reason and then start talking with each other and they first like each other's talk (my god! I just discovered the first road block in my love journey or rather why I don't have any girlfriend, I am very poor in conversational skills). And, then they start meeting each other often and realise that they like each other's presence (most often they get blinded and not able to see each other's annoying habits which afterwards becomes huge problem) and then they realise that they love each other. Now, the trick here is that what causes this realisation that I love her and things like that. Well, to be honest, I am clueless, do you know it?
I have one friend who exactly like me had opinions about love and used to ridicule things like love at first sight (Well, I ridicule it even today) and then hopelessly fell in love with a girl.
So, again what does it mean? Does it mean that when you get emotionally very close to someone, you have fallen in love?
Anyway, is there anything called true love, isn't it just a moment when we decide to commit ourselves emotionally, physically,.... to someone for life?
When the relationships break, was there any love between the two or love is just flexible enough :) to change over time?
I am not trying to give any answers, I don't know any.
Well, just when I thought I will finish this blog, I remembered one observation. There is one peculiar thing that people who go to some other country where similar people are much less, they normally fall in love or commit to marriage easier. In fact, the friend, I mentioned few paragraphs ago, fell in love with the girl in foreign country. So is the loneliness (or emptiness, which I use to term extreme loneliness) one of the factors here? Is it that when you are away from your family or people you love or you don't have anyone who loves you; you start looking for someone who will and when you see a possibility you fall in love?
I guess my thoughts are too random, but I guess that's the way they should be.
congratulations! if you are reading upto this very last line.


Just few days ago, I confessed on this very blog that I have never taken any objective decision or probably hardly taken any and today says that I am an Objective Thinker.
Well, being Objective thinker does not automatically make me an Objective decision maker but what the heck! If an objective thinker struggles to be an objective decision maker, what does that supposed to mean?
However the description given by the website includes 'Objective Thinkers often combine intuitive information with the facts they have gathered'; so I guess that explains some part of it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Struck with boredom...

Its middle of March, appraisal time (topic for a huge blog altogether), I must be in thick of the action and instead I am struck with extreme boredom. It's like you are running a 10 km marathon and after 9th km, you don't feel like running and you actually stop.
Its 3 PM and only thing I can clearly think of is an hour of sleep. Instead of writing documents to support my self-assessment ratings, I am reading book for my work. Though reading book might be more important from work point of view, writing documents is more important from apppraisl point of view, on which depends my performance pay.
Oh! heck! life is full of unfair tradeoffs....

Monday, March 13, 2006

coloured by emotions

Can we as a human take a perfect objective decision? I think it is nearly impossible ( at least for me). I bow to the people who can do so.

Think of it carefully... Isn't it true; most times answer is ready with us; it just comes out of our mind and afterwards, we try to defend it by giving some nice logic or theory. This is especially evident when the decision is somehow relating to the people we already know. If somebody we don't like make a very valid point,most times we would find an excuse why that something won't work and go ahead. Though this is just an obvious example, most of our life is full of such kind of non-obvious decisions.

I don't know, how to analyze further on this isssue. It is just nearly impossible. I have just put it from my own experience and my observations of people around me.

One of the great persons in formalizing thinking and inventor of 'lateral thinking' Mr. Edward DeBono has included emotions a red hat in his methodology 'six hats thinking' for the exact same reason.

There is something called "emotional intelligence" which is supposed to help us in life, but I don't know. I confess I have never really read about it but I just be another nice theory. For me, I always think that being conscious about something is more important than reading theory. You read theory and forget it but if you are conscious about something it remains at the back of your mind and after some time becomes part of your emotions.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Today my mind is wandering in too many dircetions. I sat for writing blogs, started four different topics because of four different reasons and left them in between. Just not able to think, clearly in one direction, all thoughts are getting mixed up here and there.
I guess too much on my plate to worry about... I hope my life also doesn't get mixed up. I have to look forward to complete all the four blogs pretty soon....

Monday, March 06, 2006

I am back...

Yeah, yeah I know, it doesn't excite anyone (oops! soory, it excites at least me) in the world; however after some hectic activities for a brief period of a week, I am back to reading and writing blogs.
Great! so many topics to write about let's see how it goes!