Recommended HR Practices- PMS


PMS is at the core of organization success and huge amount of time and energy is spent on ensuring that organization objectives are communicated well and cascaded into individual goals for achievement. But the fact remains that most of the employees see it as an annual ritual that needs to be performed for receiving salary increment. Every HR manager professes that PMS is an exercise done for multiple objectives ranging from identifying talent gaps and development needs to succession planning and improvement of efficiency etc… but why is it that the employee, who is at center of this exercise doesn’t seem to appreciate the big picture. While I agree that part of the problem is an individual’s limited visibility, understanding of organization perspective and ability to assess environment and self objectively. But having said that the issue also is that the most critical stakeholder, the employee, doesn’t have any control over the process and therefore takes no ownership of the process. Employees may align to the process, work according to the KRAs and goals but will he or she swear by the process validity. I doubt.

“All of us will agree that if we want employees to own up any work; their ability to influence the work process and outcome should be high. Imagine if a recruitment process is completely automated and the talent acquisition person can only give inputs but can’t influence the decisions. Would he ever own up the quality of talent hired by this automated process? No.”

Now let me bring in a maverick view. How about creating a performance management system where each individual can choose to achieve goals that he or she believes is in the best interest of the company. The overall company objectives can be communicated for reference and then give employees an environment where each one is his/her own leader. This by no means suggests that we should not have structures and responsibilities defined because these are important. But how about letting each individual choose the path to success. The best ones will figure out a way to identify the most relevant goals and the most efficient ways to achieving it. This will not only infuse high levels of energy in employees but will also unleash creativity. Such charged up employee will not only figure out goals and path but will also seek collaboration, arrange for resources, communicate well with stakeholders because now he has owned up the goal.

Now let us come to the outcome. Will everyone be equally successful in the process? No. But it is not about ensuring success for everyone. No workplace will have only outstanding performers but the aim is to make the difference apparent to everyone without taking support of a system that has been conceptualized at 30,000 feet above ground and implemented at the sea level. The realization that success came to someone most deserving since he/she would accomplish a much higher goal will be visible to all since not everyone will be able to create a system of collaborative working and resource optimization. I agree that it is difficult to operate when you are set free to think creatively and be your own boss. But these are not unsurmountable challenges. The highly motivated and talented once will able to do it and that will be the success of any performance management process, since it will separate best from the rest.

By Maynk Bhatnagar, General Manager –HR, Network18


  1. Reading through Maynk Bhatnagar’s PMS practices piece, it is true that performance appraisals are seen by most as an annual ritual which must be performed. The Group HR initiates the process making it clear that only 5% of rated teammates can be given a 5/5 rating and the bell curve must be maintained.

    Managers don’t really read these bell curve initiatives and many get overrated in the process or a few deserving teammates get underrated. These inconsistencies give rise to grievances.

    In order to reduce grievances during the annual rating period, Group HR introduced the initiative of normalization or rationalization throughout the Company.

    Normalization is the process of ensuring the bell curve. In this process, a teammate who has less than six months under the current management gets a 3/5 or a Band C, irrespective of rating from raters, unless the rating is 5/5 or Band A and there are less than 5% in Band A. If there are more than 5% in Band A then, filters are applied to reduce the number in A Band. This is done for each band, until the perfect bell curve is achieved.

    The downside to normalization is that the grievances grew exponentially, because everyone “believes” they deserve much better or their position, power, experience and seniority dictates either Bands A or B; C Band is a silent death to their careers. Normalization is not and should not be construed as a “cut-throat” process.

    Rationalization is a better option, yet this process has been bastardized to resemble normalization and the two are confused. Hence, in trying to rationalize performance appraisals, grievances have increased, because how can we rationalize a 4.25/5.00 into a C Band?


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