Rishi Piparaiya’s Job Be Damned – Work less, Career Success, is a wise and witty guide to climbing up the career ladder. An extract on “Appraisal Discussions”: 

The mother of all feedback sessions is the annual performance appraisal. Positioned as an employee development initiative, it is simply an attempt to mess with your mind by condensing a full year’s work into a quick discussion of your shortcomings and a single digit rating.

The most effective counter for someone jerking your chain is to tighten it around your fist and punch the living daylights out of him. An effective framework to do this during appraisals comes from the field of medicine and psychiatry—the ‘change curve’. This was developed basis the ground-breaking research of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who exhaustively studied people when they underwent periods of high stress. She interviewed hundreds of terminally ill people and classified their varying emotions into the following five stages of grief.

While one can’t compare a deservedly poor performance assessment to contracting a terminal illness, use the adapted Job Be Damned appraisal curve for your discussions. Once the boss has completed his spiel and communicated your rating and bonus, go through the five stages of grief:

Denial: Stare at him wordlessly in amazement, with wide eyes and open mouth, until he squirms uncomfortably. Then break the silence with a loud scream, ‘Are you out of your freaking mind, you lard!’ Express outrage at the little worth that he has for your contributions, gesticulating with your hands as you set fire to pretend barrels of midnight oil that you burnt for the organization. Completely deny that a rating this bad is even possible and blame him for letting such a basic error slip by unnoticed. ‘It’s all a mistake and HR must have mixed up my ratings with someone else. Those screwballs can’t staple paper right and you expect them to work a spreadsheet?’

Anger: He will try to pacify you with reconciliatory words. Go berserk. Bang the table, fling items from his desk, pace around, punch the walls, slam doors and shake with intense anger—he needs to be shivering in fear now. End by spitting on the bonus letter that he just handed over to you.

Bargaining: Other than his fearful eyes occasionally darting to the speckles of phlegm glistening on the page, you have his undivided attention. Propose ways to salvage the situation. Can he correct your rating to what it should have been? How about a larger raise or an out of turn promotion instead? A few extra weeks of vacation maybe? Hear out his counter offers and bargain hard for the benefits that you deserve for his screw-up.

Can he correct your rating to what it should have been? How about a larger raise or an out of turn promotion instead? A few extra weeks of vacation maybe? Hear out his counter offers and bargain hard for the benefits that you deserve for his screw-up.

Depression: He is probably losing patience by now so move to depression. Let the tears flow freely, lower your tone and appeal to his sensitive side. Share sob stories of the sacrifices that you made so that he could prosper. Talk about how your aged parents were depending on your bonus for that long due surgery. Weep without constraint; if you sense his hand on your shoulder, it’s a win. If his eyes are glistening, it’s a glorious victory.

Acceptance: Your theatrics notwithstanding, nothing will likely change in this appraisal cycle but you have stood your ground and set the boundaries for subsequent years. He will think twice about messing with you the next time. Shake hands and walk out stoically. No sorries, thank yous or warm farewell hugs—he has screwed a year of yours and let him repent in silence. If you spat on the letter, leave it as a reminder of your indignation.

It’s simple. Irrespective of how you have been rated, your immediate reaction should be to go through the appraisal curve and claim that you deserved at least a notch higher. And if you have been given the highest possible rating, drop that battle and fight the monetary war instead. Only a 300 per cent bonus? Be appalled and start gathering sputum in your throat.

Extracted with permission from Jobs be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya, published by HarperCollins India, Price 299, Pages 282.

Also Read: On Chand Bibi, From ‘Rebel Sultans’ By Manu Pillai

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