Know Thy Appraiser


Know thy Appraiser:

If you are reading this post wishing that it is about preparing yourself for your appraisal or how best to handle your appraisal, then this post is not for you. Oh, but wait, probably this is for YOU! Because, all said and done, you need to ‘know thy appraiser’.

I was reflecting on all my previous appraisals in the places I worked and chewed on the ‘disaster experiences’ shared by my friends / colleagues in their respective appraisals and lo! Out comes this post.

As we know, there are different types of performance appraisals and every organization might pride itself in having a sound and robust appraisal system. Organizations might have beautifully structured appraisal forms; objective, focused and employee-friendly appraisal parameters and also have well-laid out and transparent appraisal norms.

But, does every employee have a joyride during appraisal? Do the employees feel happy and content because of a ‘productive’ appraisal meeting? Do they have the assurance that the annual appraisal will lead to a lucrative salary hike, promotion or incentive? No, definitely not! Because, I presume appraisals are much more than policies, forms and parameters. A lot has to do with the appraiser.

Well, I believe that an effective appraisal (here, I mean for you and not the company) is all about knowing your opponent. Ok, Ok, no offence. Let me rephrase it! It is about knowing your appraiser or your boss. It is all about understanding their attitudes, temperaments and traits. And guess what? I could think of five types of appraisers and I am sure you would have had a chance to meet one or more in your career journey.

So here we go!

Know thy Appraiser – Types of Appraisers:

1. Palm-down Head Patting Appraiser:

Here we have an appraiser who likes to take the upper hand. This is a type of appraiser who is not willing to show his/her ‘palm up’ to have a one-to-one discussion in the appraisal meeting. The appraisal process portrays a situation where the appraiser half-heartedly appreciates the appraisee’s annual performance and points out various areas of improvement in a diplomatic manner.

He / she meets you on the platform as your ‘SUPERIOR’ and airs the ‘I know it all attitude’. The idea is to keep the appraisee on ground and clearly point out the mistakes, mishaps and issues (if any or made up), all the time patting you on your head! (examples: “I know you had a rough year, but…”, I understand you tried your best but the situation was bad”, “You can do much better than this, you have the abilities” and so on)

There is no chance given to you to explain your views and the process is more a one-way communication. The appraisal ratings are decided beforehand and in the most cordial manner explained to you that you deserve only that score. The upcoming year’s targets are shoved on you whether you like it not. This would give the appraiser a chance to ride over you during next year’s appraisal.

2. Shoulder Patting Appraiser:

This is a kind of appraiser who creates conducive environment in the appraisal meeting. However, the appraiser holds all strings and make-believe that it is for your own welfare. There is a feeling that everything is going ‘candy’ in the minds of both the appraiser and the appraisee, when the reality is anything other than this. The past year’s achievements are discussed and necessary appreciation is given.

The different parameters are deliberated and the expected employee’s ratings are invited. However, the appraiser justifies that the scores be reduced, citing management policies. But remember, the appraiser does not want to reduce your scores, but he/she does so only because of the policies! The appraisee rides along with the appraiser knowing the game played.

Yearly targets set for the upcoming year are too high and practically unachievable or beyond your scope. But you are patted on your shoulders for your abilities and strengths. The appraiser is ‘sugar coating’ all the time and you almost believe that you will be able reach the stars.

3. Tight Leash Appraiser:

This is a type of appraiser who makes it very clear that he/she is the boss now and always. You have a situation here where the appraiser holds the appraisee in a tight leash. The appraiser makes sure that you are held strong and proper. You are taken out for a jungle walk. The air is completely strained.

The appraisal process is marked by arguments, conflicts and disagreements. Open fight takes place between the appraiser and appraisee. Each one tries to outweigh the other and prove their worth. The meeting is completely unpleasant and a disaster.

You are told only about your failures and negative attitude is the order of the day. You try to pull and tussle but choke yourself. Both the appraiser and the appraisee prepare well ahead of time to attack each other. But then, the appraiser has the last word.

The score for each parameter is low and you are not given a chance to prove anything. The goal is to make you a victim and you have no other choice.

4. Meek-go Appraiser:

Some might love this kind of appraiser. In this situation, you (appraisee) are the boss. The appraiser is submissive and plays an impassive role. The appraiser is clearly scared of you but does not show it so obviously.

You know too well that the appraisal is only a ritual and has nothing to do with your promotion, incentive or progress. You sit across the table with an air of confidence and open authority.

In this situation the appraisee has one or more of these to his/her advantage:

  1. Close link with the top management
  2. Critical talent and scarce skills
  3. Incompetent and powerless line manager

Hence, the appraiser lets you do the talking and you play the cards as per your wish. The score for each parameter and the targets are decided by the appraisee and the appraiser merely goes along with it. The appraiser wishes to get over the process fast and smooth and so allows you to dictate the terms.

5. Free-rein Appraiser:

This type of appraiser knows you and your worth. He/she understands the appraisal requirements and your expectations. The appraisal is a clearly open and transparent discussion between two mature adults.

Each parameter in the appraisal form is deliberated and a mutually acceptable score is derived. The upcoming year’s target is realistically set in consensus between both parties. The process is oriented towards achieving appraisee’s growth and welfare and at the same time attaining organization’s goals.

Both the appraiser and the appraisee act ethically and the outcome is amicable and pleasant. You almost enjoy the appraisal process and feel contented and get ready for yet another productive year.

So when I talk about the types of appraisers, I wish to say that the terms are effective only during the appraisal season. Your boss or line manager might be a gem of a person at other times. It is only during the appraisal process, you get to see another face of your boss. It is his/her domain and he/she controls the situation.

Be God’s and Be Good!


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