How to Approach Job Appraisal in 2021?

The year 2020 was tough. If you have been lucky to have retained your job, then maybe your appraisal wasn’t held. If there was a performance review, chances are the increments and promotions have been not like other years. Now, the appraisal season for 2021 is approaching fast. So, how should you approach your appraisal in 2021?

My Thoughts on Appraisals

The Appraisal cycles have been either a cause of heartburn or excitement for everyone in the corporate world, especially if you are at the beginning of your career. Employees want to find out what their bosses, colleagues, and other senior leaders think about them within the company and their peer group.

Appraisals should not be a one-time event but part of a periodically closed loop between any particular employee and their leader. However, appraisal time is when the rubber meets the road i.e. employees really find out the reality of their performance and brand reputation since it is about the increment, raise, and promotions.

Many leaders are shy of delivering bad news to employees or giving strong development feedback, hence their action tied to the bottom line tells employees what their value to the company, to the team, and to their direct leader.

How to Approach Appraisal in 2021?

2020 has been a tough year for everyone, especially if you have been working in some of the industries like Travel, Hospitality, Leisure, etc. Given 2020 was a tough year, not many people got increments and many lost their jobs.

This year, should employees feel lucky that they have retained their jobs and not look for a 5/10% increment?

Or should they look for a 20 – 30% increment (either same organization or switch) as they didn’t get an increment last year and/or might have had a salary cut?

So, what to expect and how to manage the current appraisal cycle, promotions, raises, and bonuses.

I have been involved in several hiring and appraisal meetings across engineering, product, and leadership roles. So, this is purely from my own experience.

Here are key questions to ask yourself before you get excited, disappointed, or ready to confront your manager about your raise, and salary.

Key Questions to Ask for Appraisal in 2021

1) Is your company doing well during these tough times? 

This is an important question to ask before you think about your appraisal, salary, and increment. If your company or business is not doing well in terms of making a profit, the chances are very high that there will be no major increments or bonuses in 2021.

If you like the company and the industry you work in or if your skillset and experienced are highly specialized, stay put at the company and don’t have high expectations until the tough business environment changes.

If you don’t enjoy what you are doing or if you are not tied to the company for long, this may be a good time to start exploring options, especially if you have strong skills and experience in growing fields such as data analytics, data sciences, software development, cloud technology, biosciences, etc.

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2) Is your experience and skillset in high demand within the company or within the industry? 

If you are one of the folks whose skills and experience are in high demand within your company or in the industry, you have more negotiating power and may be able to ask for higher increments.

In many cases, the company leaders and HR teams have a good idea of the macro environment and the company’s talent needs for the future so they do consider some of these factors when deciding on increments, bonuses, and promotions.

Every company wants to keep good talent in today’s environment of emerging global growth in late 2021, so they would not want to see someone valued walk away from the company.

If you are one of the folks in some of the areas such as cloud engineering, front-end software development, back-end software development, data engineering, and sciences or biosciences, you may still be able to get a “higher-than-market” increment in 2021.

So, before you make a decision on the amount of increment, always ask the question if your skills and experience is highly valued in the industry and if you can demand a far higher rate in some other company for it. If the difference is only 5-10%, don’t jump the ship or get too disappointed on your increment as those small amounts do not work out in the longer term.

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3) Are you being valued within your team and organization? 

This is one of the most important questions all of us should be asking every few months. This question not only decides your increments but also your growth, promotions, and opportunities to get onto key assignments and strategic projects.

Increments are short-term decisions and vary from time to time. Many leaders and HR managers want to make sure that employees with similar skills, experience, leadership, and performance come into the same range of salary to ensure the principle of equity, equality, and fairness.

Since the increment budgets are fixed every year, it takes some time for the leaders to make this happen so an employee may see higher increments a few years and lower increments in another year as leaders try to play a balancing role around fairness to all employees that are delivering for the company.

If you are someone who is valued within your team and the organization, the leadership team will try to ensure your compensation is ahead of others in the peer group plus they will also give you other forms of recognition such as promotion, special projects, awards, and even access to senior leadership.

4) Is your Organization Favouring a Dynamic Approach?

This year organizations are likely to junk strict annual targets this appraisal season and may favor a more dynamic approach. Many companies had to adjust business targets to account for an unusual year.

With remote work here to stay, companies are becoming more outcome-focussed and emphasizing personal development, as reported by The Times of India.

At FMCG major Marico, targets and performance metrics were recast and shared with employees on a monthly and quarterly basis due to the changing economic scenario.

At Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, 95% of the workforce is on quarterly and monthly plans to align business strategy with goals continuously. The insurer is promoting a “do more, earn more” philosophy.

KPMG is evaluating performance on two fronts: metrics and behaviour. Employees are expected to summarise not just their contributions but also how they achieved those goals.

Corporate India is also tapping AI, ML, and digital technologies for high-frequency feedback, marking a shift from annual goals to agile goals.

Final Thoughts

So, as you get into this year’s appraisal cycle, ask the questions highlighted above. 2021 is a tale of two cities so do not think this to be a normal year. For some companies and employees, they may have no increment while many other lucky ones may continue to see more bonuses, increments, and growth. Whatever is the end result, remember this is just a single period in your long career and does not make or break. 

If you want further guidance, book a session with one of our career and study abroad guidance counselors.

Featured Image Source: The Indian Express

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