The Mentor: Tales of Performance Appraisal Meetings

The Mentor: Tales of Performance Appraisal Meetings

For software developers job interviews and performance appraisal meetings are very interesting moments. The appraisal process is mostly linked to salary hikes (some companies says its not, well you know!!!).

While we go through them it could be exciting and stressful at times, but later if we think back and recollect those memories we can have a good laugh realizing how stupid we were.

Well, if you are not familiar with Appraisal is a process where once in a year you list out all great things you did through out the year and your manager evaluates them and provides feedback and tell you how much percentage of salary increment you are going to get if at all you are going to get any.

Typically feedback will contain several sections like Technical Expertise, Communication Skills, Process adherence etc and you will be getting ratings like N (Needs Improvement), M(Meets Expectation), E(Exceeds Expectation) etc.

So here I am telling tales of my appraisal meetings….

In the very beginning…

It was my first performance appraisal meeting and I was very much excited and nervous about how will it go. I entered into my manager’s room and he was going through my appraisal feedback papers and shortly he put down the papers on table and started the conversation.

Manager: Hey, how are things going on?

Me: Going good.

Manager: Well, I received feedback about your performance and you did great.

Me: (Blushing) Thanks.

Manager: You are doing very well in the project and you are picking up technologies very quickly. Great job.

Me: Thanks.

Manager: See, we are going to get a new project from our esteemed client soon. That will be a big project and we are planning to build it using latest and greatest technologies. We need very strong technical team for that project.

Me: Oh very good.

Manager: I had discussions with few team leads and they suggest your name for this project. Mostly you will be part of this project.

Me: Thank you…..thank you…again thank you.

Manager: (Smile)

Me: May I know which technologies we are going to use in that project?

Manager: Spring, Hibernate, JSP etc.

Let me tell you one thing here. Working on a green field Spring based project was a dream for many software developers in India. Especially those energitic and enthusiastic freshers are ready to die to work on Spring projects. Atleast I felt that way.

Me: After hearing the technologies, especially Spring, I am overwhelmed with happiness. My brain started thinking how to quickly prepare myself to master everything about Spring before project get started.

Handing over the papers my manager said, here are the feedback forms and salary increment details. I took the forms and thanked him twice and left the room.

After the appraisal discussion me and my buddy Syam went out for a break.

Syam:So how was the discussion?

Me: Very good, I got good feedback.

Syam:Cool. So, how much percentage they gave you?

Me: Hmmm…actually I didn’t check it bro!!!

Syam:Oh, you had a performance appraisal discussion without talking about how much percentage you are going to get????

Me: hmmm.

Syam:Tell me what happend?

Me: (I said whatever we discussed)

Syam:So, just after hearing few latest technology buzzwords you forgot to talk about salary hike!!!

After that Syam looked at me like the way we look at a pet dog when it is doing some cute thing and said “Atleast next year talk about salary too!!”.

Next year…

Manager: Hey, come on…sit.

Me: Thank you.

Manager: I got great feedback on you. You are doing very well. Your team lead told me you are really good at technology.

Me: Thank you.

Manager: So, tell me what is the future plan? Where do you want to see yourself in next 5 years?

Me: I want to become more strong in technology, I want to become an Architect.

Manager: That’s great. But we are already know that you are technically strong. Think about how you want to grow in career.

Me: Hmm..

Manager: We are hiring a batch of college graduates this month. We want you to train them and make each one of them like YOU.

Me: (I am on cloud 9)

Manager: I don’t know how will you train them, I want them to become like you in a month.

Me: (I still didn’t came into this world)

After that I took the feedback forms and thanked him and left the room.


Syam:How much?

Me: hmmmm

Syam:This time what is it?

Me: Told the story

Syam:(Pat me on my shoulder and left without saying anything)

Next year….

Manager: Hey, come on…sit.

Me: Thank you.

Manager: I got good feedback on you. You are doing good.

Me: Thank you.

Manager: You know success of a project depends on various things. Being good at technology is definitely important, but communicating with clients is also very important.

Me: (I understood that he was talking about my poor English speaking skills)

Manager: You need to improve your client interaction skills and speak up more in meetings.

Me: Yeah, I agree. (I am already feeling shame about myself for not having good English speaking skills).

Manager: Apart from that you are doing fine.

After that I took the feedback forms and thanked him and left the room.


Syam: You are looking sad, what happened this time?

Me: (Told the story)

Syam: So this time they played the “Bring up the weak point and make them feel low” technique.

Me: (said nothing)

Syam: See buddy we all have our strenghts and weaknesses. No need to feel low about lack of some specific skill. We can learn..for some it will take less time, for others it may take more time…but we can learn.

No need to feel sad and low about their feedback. You are doing much more work than your peers. Instead of appreciating for that they talk about the weakness so that they can make you feel low and obviously you won’t ask for much hike.

The most important thing is to realize our own value, just don’t let others judgement defines your worth. First you should feel that you are providing value then you can confidently demand whatever you want..ok..chill.

After few years…..

I just received my salary hike letter and looking at the percentage of increment I got stunned.

When Syam asked me Are you OK?, my reaction is

Na Man... Im pretty fucking far away from OK

After several years…..

Manager: Hey, come on…sit.

Me: Thank you.

Manager: I got good feedback on you.

Me: How much percentage of hike I am getting this year?

Manager: This year you performed very well, so we are giving the best hike for you..16%

Me: Ok, where should I sign?

Manager: Don’t you want to discuss anything about the feedback?

Me: Boss, I have gone through enough of the appraisal cycles and understood this whole Performance Apprasial Process drama very well. You are saying “I performed very well last year, thats why you are giving me good hike”. But I don’t believe that.

You don’t give salary hike based on what I did last year, it depends on how much you need me next year.

All these N, M, E ratings are way for you to justify why you are not giving better salary hike. As a manager you will get some budgeted amount from your boss and you have to distribute it to your team. Though you know some people deserve more you can’t give more, the total amount is fixed. So you might have properly analysed to whom you should give and how much.

If there is a challenging work which needs technical expertise then you worry about retaining strong technical people by paying them fairly. But if there is no need of technical experts and you can get work done by medicore developers then you don’t bother too much.

You are also an employee like me. You do what you can do best, but you can’t go beyond certain limits though you wish to do.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Manager: (Smiling) No.

Me: Thank you.

Siva avatar
About Siva
I am a student of life learning new things everyday
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