What a difference a year made

It is almost a year since I joined my company and it is appraisal time. It started with me asking my boss how the process is and what I need to do for it. The conversation was short, direct and clear. My boss shared with me the company’s policy in terms of salary adjustment and also his plans for me in brief.  A few things struck me.

I do not feel uncomfortable or anxious. I was not busy strategizing and going through my speech mentally. I listened.

I also remember the times in the past when I head into such performance appraisals armed with an arsenal of weapons to convince my then boss(es) I deserve more. Usually the ammunition chest consisted of a complete list of all the wonderful things I did in the past year, a readiness to impress my boss on how much effort it took me to pull it all together, including all the challenges and difficulties I had to overcome to do what I did. Indeed, my strategy was “offense is the best defense.”

When I take a walk down memory lane to my last performance appraisal, I remember an out-of-body experience where my consciousness hovered over my physical body as the conversation took place. I was not really a part of it; my mouth was moving, my brain was churning fast but the words were empty.  I was trying to CONVINCE my boss I deserve what I was fighting for.  In retrospect, the words sounded hollow; I can hear the echoes now.

I realize that my focus in the past was relying on my diligence and intelligence to survive every day.  I focused on doing things, finishing the work in good form. There were flashes of brilliance I would like to think though not consistently so. At that time, my view was: I should be rewarded for my hard work as well as willingness to do what I am supposed to do and tolerate all kinds of crap in this job.

Contrast this to the Management’s view: We do not reward hard work and certainly not passive-aggressive existence. We reward people who make a difference to the company’s performance. Not how much you contributed to the company as contribution is too broad a concept; it’s about the impact you made. Show me.

The thing is, I KNOW if I have made a difference or not. I can be the most hardworking employee in the company and still made absolutely no difference to anyone. The measure of impact is not – contrary to what many people think – directly correlated to the degree of effort put in. Therein lies the core of the concept of productivity – effectiveness.

It is about accomplishments, not how many things I did. Throw that list out. Now, what did I achieve in the past year?

I have to fill up a form next week to assess myself. When I think in terms of accomplishments, it is clear. Either I achieved something or I did not. No grand excuses, reasons and explanations to justify why things are the way they are or they are not. They just are the way they are.  

It is with this mentality that I approach my annual review this year. I am looking forward to it.


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