Effective Appraisal Dialogue – How not to and How to

Appraisal dialogues are dreaded events both for the manager and the reportee.  Appraisal dialogue can leave both of them energized, motivated and drive towards next level of performance or can leave both of them feeling low and negative, depending on the way the dialogue is conducted. Here are two scenarios to contrast…..

Appraisal Dialogues

(Roles: Pram & Priya – PMs; Divya – Delivery Manager; Basu – Business Head;  Pram & Priya report to Divya who in turn reports to Basu)

Scene 1:

Pram: Divya, when can we have my appraisal discussion? I have updated my self-appraisal in the system 2 weeks back.

Divya: Pram, it has been quite hectic for me. Can you look up my calendar and schedule 30 to 45 min slot, preferably towards the latter part of the day?

Pram schedules the meeting. Pram comes to Divya’s cabin on the scheduled day.

Divya: Hi Pram, Anything urgent? What happened to the issue that Customer escalated yesterday?

Pram: That issue is under control, no concerns. I came for the appraisal discussion.

Divya: Oh, yes, I noticed the meeting request in the calendar. But unfortunately something important has come up and I need to meet Basu right now. Pram, can we please meet tomorrow? We can squeeze in some time during lunch break.

Pram & Divya meet next day.

Divya: Hi Pram, I have 40 minutes before next meeting starts. Let’s quickly get to the specifics. I saw your self-appraisal and saw the ratings you have put. We might have some disagreements there. My assessment is that last year you did well in tracking the project tasks to closure, but you can improve on project planning. ….. One of the areas of improvement is communication with Customer & containing escalations; I heard some of your team members complaining about conflict between members. Probably conflict management is another area to improve. … And in my view overall rating is ‘Met Expectation’.

Pram: Divya, I have written in my self-appraisal in detail for each area what I have done last year and what I need to improve. I feel my performance is ‘Above Expectation’. Especially compared to Priya I have done much better.



Divya: So, let’s agree for ‘Met Exception’ rating. I will update the Appraisal system.

Pram: Divya, what about my promotion recommendation?

Divya: Pram, I will do my best. But Basu has some reservation. He was saying that your visibility needs to improve. Let’s see.

Scene 2:

Divya (on phone): Hi Pram, How are you? Hope everything is fine?

Pram: Hi Divya, yes, things are going fine.

Divya: Pram, I saw you have completed your self-appraisal. How about we meeting and having a discussion day-after-tomorrow? I am looking at my calendar. How about having it first thing in the morning, say from 9AM to 10AM? Would that work for you?

Pram & Divya meet as scheduled.

Divya: Hi Pram, How is life? How is family doing? Any vacation plans?

Pram: Thanks Divya. Things are going fine. Yes, we are planning to go to Neelagiris Hill station.

…… some more personal discussions ………….

Divya: Pram, I have gone through your self-appraisal. But it will be good to hear from you so that we can have a conversation. How was the year gone by?

Pram: If I look back, last year was quite fruitful and successful in my view. I could manage to complete the 2 projects on time and within budget. We got some good appreciations from Customers and team is quite motivated. …….

Divya gets a call from Basu.

Divya: Good morning, Basu. I am in an appraisal discussion with Pram. Can I call you back at 10AM? Ok. Thanks.

Divya: Sorry about that interruption. Pram, I think overall you did great last year. I am quite happy that you could handle some difficult situations with Customers and some sensitive issues in the team well.

…… some more discussion on the positives/achievements, …….

Divya: Pram, looking back, what could you have done differently/better? How could you have prevented some of those problems in the project that impacted the Customers, team, organization and also negatively impacted your health? Any thoughts?

Pram: ………

…………………. Some more conversations on what could have been done better ………………….

Divya: Pram, looking forward, do you have any personal vision/aspirations, what you want to be doing in the next 3 to 5 years from now, etc.?

Pram: I would like to pursue managerial path and would like to grow into a good program manager in the next few years.

Divya: We can look at those career possibilities. In your view, what would be some of the developmental areas for you to grow into that role?

Pram: I think I need to improve on …..

Divya: Have you thought about any developmental programs related to the vision that you mentioned and the areas of improvement that you mentioned?

Pram: I have some thoughts. But any suggestions from you would be useful. I have heard good things about IIMB PGSM program and PM Power APPM program, but don’t have details. Do you know anything about them?

Divya: Sure I can send you more details about them. You go through them. Then we can discuss further. I think we had a good discussion, covered different areas. Based on all these discussions would you like to go over the self-appraisal and reflect upon some of the points, look at the ratings once again?

………………… some more discussions and Pram & Divya broadly converge ………………..

Pram: Finally, Divya, what about my promotion recommendation?

Divya: Pram, we can discuss that. How would you realistically assess your readiness for the next position? We discussed about the areas of improvement, growing into program manager role etc. Where would you place yourself in that context? It is better to grow into a position than get put into a position – that way one becomes more successful, gains more respect & acceptance from the stakeholders. You might have heard about 3 dimensional career growth: Career Enlargement (breadth), Career Enrichment (depth – specialization in certain areas), Career Enhancement (progression). People think moving up the ladder is the only growth. But a more holistic growth which provides a longer runway for people, is the 3 dimensional growth. Based on today’s discussions, you may want to reflect upon further. How about scheduling a separate meeting for that? It’s important that we discuss those things.

Pram: Sure, Divya. I look up your calendar and schedule a meeting for us to discuss. Thanks for your time and for all the inputs.

Divya: Thanks Pram. Continue doing good. I am glad that you are in my team. Basu also has positive impressions about you. All the best wishes. Have a great vacation at Neelagiris.

How would you like your appraisal dialogue to be?

What do you think?

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