Jan 16, 2008

Ratings and Rare Key Skills

Roma Ahuja left a comment on my previous post Performance Ratings - the real scale. She asks:

what would you do in situations where skill sets are rare and highly specialised.

A superior may often want to give excellent ratings to their average subordinates, with the intention to be in the limelight/ have an enhanced work space for a longer time. The regular excuse being that "we donot get the right kind of talent in the market"

Any inputs on the appraisal process in a highly specialised environment?

Well, in such cases, instead of being dishonest with the employee and inflating his/her sense of contribution to the organization, the organization can set aside a portion of the payroll budget during the salary revision time to give out to employees who have "hot skills".

While I am not totally satisfied with this approach, note that explicitly stating that the salary increases are for the skills the employee has (and is hopefully using) and not for exceeding performance expectations will also implicitly make it clear to the employee that once the skill is available in the market in large numbers, or it gets obsolete, then the "hot skill linked pay increase" would also go away in the future.

In fact, in a large MNC where I worked, worldwide when pay was either stagnant or downsizing was taking place, some countries including India were labeled as "Hot markets" where pay increases had to be given. What that did was make it clear that when India headcount would no longer need to be increased in quantum growth terms then that salary increase would also go.

The other point that I keep harping on is for managers to build skills in goal setting taking into context the business realities, subordinate's maturity as well as team goals. And then to put it across in a SMART manner, keep giving regular one on one feedback, provide support and finally assess during appraisal time. Only when all the steps before appraisal have been done correctly does the manager have a right to look the employee in the eye and say: "You messed up"

Other things that organizations could do is to create a knowledge management system that tries to minimize the impact of a loss of a team member with rare/key skills.

What other strategies would you suggest to Roma?