How Ram & Hanuman offer new understanding of appraisal?
Story goes here:
I am the HR head of a large company. We have just gone through an appraisal system and there is lot of angst in the organization about the process. I feel the process has value but we aren’t doing it the right way. Can mythology offer some new way to look at it?
You need to clarify: who has the problem? The appraiser or the appraisee? Hanuman’s mother once asks him why they went through all the trouble of building a bridge across the sea, fighting demons, and killing Ravan to save Sita. “You could have just lashed your tail and in a single sweep gotten rid of the demons and saved Sita without any trouble. So why didn’t you?” Hanuman replies: “Because no one asked me to. Besides, it was Ram’s story not mine.” This tale draws attention to two points. The appraisee (Hanuman) knows that he is being celebrated for his compliance, not his capability. But he does not begrudge the appraiser (Ram) as he knows the story is about Ram’s exploits and not Hanuman’s.
So whose story is your appraisal system measuring and what exactly is it measuring? It is not a measure of the employees alone or in isolation; it is a measure of the employee in a particular context; it is a measure of what the employees were asked to do and whether the resources allocated to them was good enough to enable them to reach the results. If the results are bad, then the problem is not just with the employees, it is also with the organization’s expectation and resource allocation. The appraisal system reveals how good or bad the organization is.
But that is not how we see appraisal system. We use it to determine how much we should pay employees, who should be promoted. In other words, it is a tool that is used to determine distribution of company expenses. We use it to judge employees and measure them against each other, determine how much a person should be paid. We do not see it as an appraisal of organizational capacity and capability. It is as much about the subordinate as it is about the appraiser and the organization as a whole.