NOTE:- I think, I must mention here what led me to write this article. In the beginning of my career, I got 3 quick promotions in a span of a little over 5 years. I also got a lot of recognition for my efforts, my enthusiasm, my achievements and so on. Subsequently, while recognition came, no promotions did. This led me at first to apportioning blame on my bosses, particularly since my other role members appreciated my work and were bewildered at my being left out. I found that the fault lay with the system of depending on only one person for appraising an employee. Hence this article. It was written in 1984 - 85 and published in the January - March 1986 issue of "SYNERGY" , the house journal of Indianoil Management academy, an academy that was run by my employer. The concept outlined here, after a lot of work done on it by a whole lot of people, is these days, known as 360 degrees appraisal. In 1992, General Electric adopted it for the appraisal of its employees. When I was doing my M.B.A. at the M.S. University of Baroda in 2000 - 03, I had done a project on introduction of 360 degrees appraisal system in IPCL. The article is now being posted on my blog in order that all the work that I have done so far is available in one place.
FUNCTIONAL HEALTH SURVEY
Whereas the present performance appraisal system consisting of an appraisal - annually done of an employee's performance - by his superior may be adequate in the case of juniors, the same would need further elaboration in the case of Senior Executives or for a group of persons or for a department responsible for some function. What is outlined below is a kind of functional health survey in respect of an individual's working, a group's functioning, a department's functioning or a company's functioning or the functioning of a group of companies and so on.
INDIVIDUAL"S FUNCTIONAL HEALTH SURVEY
Any senior executive deals with the following persons / groups of persons.
a) Superior / Superiors,
d) Subordinates of peers ( Occasionally ),
e) Agencies providing services / goods,
f) Customers ( Internal or External ), Clients, Departments for whom goods are produced or services are rendered.
The present system of appraisal by Superior amounts to appraisal by only one of the six persons / groups mentioned above. It is therefore quite likely that the appraisal may not be thorough in all its aspects.
What is proposed therefore is that the appraisal should be done by all the persons / groups mentioned above apart from self appraisal so as to get more objective and more broadbased overall appraisal of the performance of the individual.
The first question that would arise is whether it is feasible. It would become feasible if the frequency is once during the occupation of a particular position by the individual rather than making it annually. One would have to design the performance appraisal format in the form of a short questionnaire which would have to be different in all the six cases in view of the disparate expectations from the individual under appraisal, by each of the six above. However the present format would do for self-appraisal as well as appraisal by the superior.
The questionnaire would have to be administered by an interviewer ( preferably from an outside agency ), in order that time is not lost in filling it. Putting signature on the questionnaire would be optional for the interviewee. The interviewer would have to be well-versed in behavioural science, especially in interviewing techniques.
Information compiled from the above should be given in the form of a feedback to the individual under appraisal as a group average along with striking departures from the average in order that he gets a fairly accurate picture of his performance. He would be able to appreciate the gap between self-image and his image in others' minds.
The samples of questionnaires are given at Annexure 'A'. These questionnaires are only illustrative in nature and can be modified to suit specific cases. The functional Health Survey would help an individual to leadership, group membership and customer satisfying attributes.
GROUP OR DEPARTMENT"S FUNCTIONAL HEALTH SURVEY
In the case of a group or a department, its inter-action takes place with the following :-
a) Superior Group - Head Office in case of a branch, Corporate Office / Board of Directors in case of a head office, relevant ministry in case of a Public Sector Undertaking and so on.
b) Subordinate groups as a converse of the groups mentioned in a) above.
c) Peer groups - other branch offices or same department in other branch offices etc.
d) External Agencies through which the group or department functions and
e) The client groups for whom the goods are produced or to whom services are rendered.
At present, the performance of a group or a department is presented by itself and appraised by its superior group. This would amount to a self-appraisal and review by the superior. It is certainly better than a mere appraisal by the superior. It however falls short of the more broad-based appraisal that is proposed here.
I would lay particular stress on the appraisal by the client groups since after all, all the activities of the appraisee group are ultimately meant for serving the client groups. As an organization becomes bigger and more complex, this aspect is often forgotten, resulting in mass dissatisfaction and apathy.
An occasional functional health survey, say once in 2 or 3 years, would help the department to take corrective steps and improve upon its performance. It would also help the department to coalesce themselves more into the group ethic, become a more effective part of the bigger unit and satisfy its client groups to a greater extent.
It needs to be said that both in the case of the individual as well as the group, the functional health survey has to be carried out on a selective basis, both in terms of selection of the individuals / departments as well as in terms of its timing.
More emphasis has to be laid on the outcome of the findings of the functional health survey for proposing remedial actions, in monitoring their progress and whether a subsequent functional health survey shows effective improvement. If it is carried out on a routine basis for all individuals / departments, there is a risk of its degenerating into a cumbersome ritual.
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR SUBORDINATES
1. How much does he function by the authority of his position ?
2. How much does he function by personal relationships ?
3. Does the appraiser feel that he is able to give his best under the appraisee i.e. his boss ?
4. Does he inspire confidence in you ?
5. Does he encourage you to carry out new ideas ? Does he give you suggestions, possible pitfalls in any ideas that you have ?
6. Does he give you an opportunity to implement new ideas ?
7.Is he rule / system bound / Or is he a law unto himself ? Or does he selectively use his discretion ? Is he approachable ?
8. Is he a good / active listener ?
9. Is he a good communicator ? Does he give clear instructions ?
10. Are his instructions effective ? Does he also tell you the underlying purpose ?
11. How does he face an abnormal situation ? Does he take charg ? Does he also inspire you to take charge in your own sphere?
12. Is he himself disciplined ? Is he punctual ? Does he follow the norms/rules formed by the organization ?
13. Does he take quick decisions ? Or does he make you to come a number of times for the same thing ?
14. Does he give you feedback on the work done by you ?
15. Does he have double standards ?
16. Does he pat you on the back for good work done by you ?
17. Does he reprimand you for any mistakes ? Does he ask you what you have learnt from your mistake ?
18. Is he impartial ?
19. Does he have a mind of his own ?
20. To what extent can he put his foot down on unreasonable demands ?
21. Is he honest enough (intellectually and emotionally) to own up his share of the blame in a mistake involving you ?
22. How much time does he have for your problem ?
23. Does he make compromises or does he always insist on his way of working ?
24. Does he lay down pririties for you to follow ?
25. Does he invite/encourage you to criticize him ?
26. Do you feel that you have been able to develop yourself during the period that you worked under him ? If so, mention specific areas.
27. What are his traits that you dislike ?
28. What are his best qualities?
29. Does he command your following ? Do you accerpt him as a leader ?
30. Does he delegate responsibility to you ? If so, does he also delegate requisite authority ?
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR PEERS
1. Do you find the appraise co-operative ?
2. Does he fulfill your expectations from him ?
3. Are the goods/services offered by him/his department upto your requirement of quality/quantity/timing ?
4. When due to reasons beyond your control, your requirements from him/his department undergo a change, is he able to make consequent changes in his sphere to suit your requirements ?
5. Does he normally plan his work in consultation with you or does he come up at the last minute with some problem ?
6. Does he offer you help on his own in solving your foreseen/unforeseen problems ?
7. Is he able to anticipate your requirements ?
8. Does he keep you informed of his plans and any changes in the plans previously communicated ?
9. How would you rate him as a team member ?
10. Would you like to work as a team member under his leadership in an activity which is a mainstream activity for him ?
11. Would you like to include him as a team member under your leadership for some specific tasks ?
12. Do you consider that he has an adequate hold over his department ? Or do you have to approach a subordinate of his for getting your work done by his department ?
13. Does he insist that he and he alone should be approached for getting anything done in his department ? Or do your subordinates find his subordinates confident of making a commitment on behalf of their department on an issue not involving policy matters ?
14. How much rapport has he been able to buildup with your next in command so as to be able to handle situations in your absence ?
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR CLIENT / CUSTOMER GROUPS
1. Are the goods produced / services rendered by the appraisee easily available to you ?
2. Is this availability timely ?
3. Is this in required quantities ?
4. Is this upto the standards of quality required by you ?
5. Are your dealings with the appraisee pleasant ?
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR EXTERNAL AGENCIES
1. How is the appraisee to deal with ? Does he fulfill his part of the contract / agreement ?
2. Is he flexible in case of your genuine difficulty ? Or does he insist on his pound of flesh irrespective of any problems that you may have ?
3. Is he approachable ?
4. Do you find any difficulty in settlement of your running account ?
5. Do you deal with him only on all issues Or are you able to deal with his subordinates ?
6. Does he often plead about being bound by rules ?
7. Does he leave a good taste in your mouth on completion of a deal ?
8.Would you like to deal with him again ?
9. Are your final dues settled quickly ?