From about 1000 BC money in a shape of small knives and spades (made of bronze) were already in use in China. Researchers may not agree, but it seems that the first manufactured coins were produced independently in India and China around 700 BC. As we all know, gold and silver were used as the most common form of money throughout the history. Bills of exchange became standard with the expansion of European trade by the end of the Middle Ages. Money opened up vast opportunities for human creativity. Today, it is impossible (although you can try) to avoid dealing with money. You receive your pay and unless you possess some money you are not able to sustain your basic living. I can ask my customers to pay me in gold, instead of some electronic money, but what are the chances that they will do so. And also what value the gold would bring if it cannot be used to trade further and buy food and other things. As you can see we are in a vicious circle about money. Our survival today is determined by money. If you do not have it you cannot provide the basics for yourself and your family.
I am talking about money, because of its role in our life. You receive money in exchange for the value of your contribution at work and how much you actually generate often influenced by another human being – your boss. Such decision supposed to be fair and an even exchange. The problem is however that measuring performance is not always objective. Your superior may consider your work excellent and at his discretion you may get a promotion, a pay rise or bonuses. But what if your boss thinks that your performance is average or even below average. In this case your hope to get the rewards are simply gone. Most managers, at any rank, are given full authority to use their own ‘objectivity’ to decide what your value is in a given position, which is not overseen or questioned by HR or higher ranks. This presents vulnerability for employees. You may say that objective setting is the key to eliminate issues, however even when objectives are SMART-ly set, managers have ways to dispute good performance or force employees to sign off on unrealistic or unmeasurable goals. I have seen situations where perceptions ruled the outcomes and not rational reasoning without prejudice. Personality differences also play a key role in evaluating employees’ performance.
So what is the solution?
It is not easy but yet straightforward. You will not be able to change the ‘system’ we live in. At least not overnight. Therefore, the only thing you can do is to find ways how to defend your performance. The way to achieve this involves a process.
1. Set Measurement Criteria Wisely. It starts when your goals are determined. Most performance evaluation forms contain a column that refers to how objectives are measured. You need to pay attention to the criteria from the beginning and ensure that they are clear and undeniably measurable.
2. Collect Ongoing Feedback: The second step is to monitor your own performance between your appraisals. Make sure that you obtain ongoing feedback of your work from your boss and reinforce the same in writing even if it is given to you verbally. This way you will influence your superior’s overall perception.
3. Prepare to Defend: When the time comes to evaluate your performance do not just walk in without being absolutely prepared to defend your position. This involves going through your objectives and support your performance with examples, events, and numbers. During your appraisal meeting you need to remain factual and you need to be able to support your arguments in a rational and very calm way.