Performance Appraisal : Loyalty Versus Performance, a tug of war ?

No great management thinker can authoritatively say that one is better than other when it comes to appraising people. One seems to be the better than the other and vice versa on different cases under unique circumstances. The objective here is to some light on a modern day corporate world and to ask ourselves which has more consideration while appraising people. I am referring to extrinsic rewards i.e., increase in monetary compensation which normally happens once in year.

In most of the cases loyalty acquires preference than performance. Corporate politik or affairs mostly managed by or fall in the purview of Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”. And the rule which is of paramount importance is “Never outshine our master”. At any cost do not try to prove your master (manager) as an idiot. In reality he might be worse than idiot but please don’t make him feel that he is one. I have learnt from my learned friend that in a booming economy like India any body can become managers at a very young age, this may not be case in most of the western economies. The one who can survive this dirty state of corporate politics can survive in Amazon forest too, that seems to be quite an extreme comparison but believe me that is the truth.

You see your companion and it is an established fact that he/she is indeed mediocre in his performance and he/she lacks what are called bare minimum skills. But when it is the appraisal time, he benefits the most. And your expression might be: What the heck, I am not even getting nuts? So you go back and ask for an explanation from your manager about this step motherly treatment. You would surprised to hear the ‘A’ word i.e., I am referring to Attitude. You might have managers speaking as if they have discovered Attitude like Einstein discovered gravity. But there is no choice but to listen to that rubbish, of course you should have patience. I am not sure if it is Swami Parthasarathi who said all successful managers need hanumans for them to be successful? Correct me if it is not Swami Parthasarathi.

At times there might be no reason to find fault with intentions of CXO’s of the organization but it is only the Mid-level witless managers who while implementing the noble intentions apply the discretion indiscriminately and favor the stooge but not the performer, because he has outshined him. I do not deny that loyalty is an important component which must be honored, but not definitely at the cost of performance because performer’s performance is needed for the organizations to survive in a red ocean. When you see organizations boast that their culture as one that is liberal and open, but when it comes to actual practice you do not see all that is happening what is written on your company’s intranet pages.

Yes we can talk about all this since the advent of this IT and ITES, but in the manufacturing domain that is simply not possible. But people outside of this white collar industry do not know that bigoted and personal tyrants do exist out here too as they do in other colored collar industries like blue or yellow for example. You can flout all the stated rules if your manager is in your favor, that’s why I say don’t outshine him. That means do not tell him that he is an idiot. It is horrible when you work under managers who have Theory X assumptions and not to mention the parental ego, you can literally feel that you are in a holocaust like environment.

Just to quote an incident or example which Douglas McGregor refers in his book “The Human Side of Enterprise” where a new manager walks in to a production plant and pulls up a machine operator and says “When I manage the shop it is I who actually runs the shop”, the operator stops the machine which he was operating and asked the manager to run it. Actually the whole plant was stopped to see how this manager could run it. This is the manifestation of ego. Another shocking fact I have noticed is that you could earn the ire of your master because of your performance as well. So all High performers it is not enough that if you stop yourselves by performing alone and not be loyal, at least pretend. This is for those who are badly looking for extrinsic reward. Let me see how many are going to refute what I am saying here.

Note: Originally written in my archived blog, reposting it here after correcting some typos.

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