Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's that time of the year again - appraisal time ;)

Appraisal time.  The moment of truth.  Have you got enough ammunition or does the very thought of it send jitters to your spine?  Or worse.  You are oblivious to it?  It doesn't excite you, doesn't spook you, to you it's just another piece of paper, another meeting, another session of nonsensical but mandatory chat session.  It. doesn't. mean. anything. to. you?

Well if I hit a nerve there, then I'm really worried for you.  Because it shows that you have no accountability to what you do.  A job is a nine to five routine that you trade for some dough to basically eat and drink to stay alive before your time ends.  You have no love in what you do.  You don't care about the bigger picture.  You don't care about your boss.  You don't care about your clients.  You don't care about your colleagues.  You. just. don't. care.  Or do you? C'mon, get a grip.

Last mid-term, I had a moment of truth.  Appraisals are done annually, but we have a practice here to touch base with the team every 6 months just so, we are not just on the same page but are on track - you know, the usual - motivation, goals, $$$, things-we-love-most-about-you-which-you-should-continue-doing and things-you-do-that-we-hate-so-much-we're-using-all-our-might-to-refrain-from-...

And my moment of truth came after speaking to about 10 colleagues.  People, are generally hungry for feedback.  I always thought that perhaps, Malaysians being non-confrontational tend to shy away from these kind of open discussion, especially when it's their performance that is put under the microscope and scrutinized.  But such is not so.  They generally want to know if they have done well, met expectations, hoping you could give them feedback which they failed to see in the mirror.  And me being me, I'm the last person on earth to be appointed to candy pills, I'm quite surprised that the team takes facts - good or bad - with good strides.  And the best part is?  No satisfaction is bigger than to watch people grow.  In the next 6 months, you see them change.  You see them really working on the issues which we've identified and agreed upon.  Albeit they're not perfect, but the point is you do see them working on it and you do see results.  Sometimes the result is tangible, other times it's not.  Sometimes it's surprising even.  But of course, you get a lemon now and then.  And unfortunately OR fortunately for us, the person almost always leaves the team before the term ends.

I always get the jitters when it comes to appraisal time.  Not so much my own - I have one of the nicest and most encouraging bosses eva and I almost always get away with a lot of things - on paper or no (haha!).  Woops.  Too much info.  But anyway, it's the appraisal time with the team that gives me the chills.  We made a point that it'll be an open discussion, a two-way traffic.  So as much as the person is reviewed, I supposed I'm also getting reviewed indirectly as a senior colleague.  If you've been put in charge to lead, it's hard not to feel responsible for the person whom you are leading.  C'mon, if one of your staff is in Timbuktu, SURELY there must have been a smart alec who may have mentioned 'going to Timbuktu' at some point?  I'm not sure whether everyone feels the same or just the fact because I'm the fairer gender (hence I'm more emotional, more feely weely, more blah blah blah), I feel responsible when one person does not hit their KPI.  It's strange.  It feels like you've not been guiding enough.  It feels kinda like a guilt-trip.  You get what I mean?  And almost always, with extremely great difficulty for the words to spew out from my mouth, I will ask them for feedback on my leadership.  That's when the butterflies don't just fly, the explode in your gut because it's your turn to strip naked and go under the microscope.  I know my colleagues withheld a lot of comments (haha!) seriously.  Because I know them and because I know I could be better.  And I thank them for... being extremely considerate about my feelings :) No, seriously.

It's quite ironic, that being in a communication industry, ad people rarely talk to each other.  They play cool and they hardly get in touch with their emotions when it's this very same business that should be stirring emotions, creating new feelings.  If you're doing appraisal with your team right about now, take some time off and really... communicate with them.  It's not about talking, but about understanding.  Yup, the pressure is always gonna be there when there're numbers put in place as goals but it's gonna be good.  The second most satisfying thing about working here, in Dentsu is to be able to see your team grow.  Not just in the business sense, but as people.  You see them become empowered and you see them try and challenge themselves and you see them stretch.  Well, fireworks are inevitable along the way because we are... at war, but nevertheless it will be pretty at the end of it and it will be all worth the trouble.

To my awesome team, I'm really fortunate to have you guys.  No, seriously.  I may not LOOK like it (dood, it's tough to look like it every day.  I am after all a human being) but I sure mean it.  Somehow, this appraisal thing?  Makes me more aware of myself too not as a staff to my boss but as a colleague, a person, a leader, a guide, a friend, a lamp post, a torch light, whatever you wanna call it, you know what I mean :)

Here's to our realignment and an awesome 2012!

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