Here’s how I got through an appraisal in a command and control organisation.
***Before you start, you need to have a manager who is prepared to be honest. If not, fill the pro forma with lies and smile through until next time***
So, assuming you have a reasonable manager, this is what to do.
1. Write down your own values
For example, I believe:
- people are basically good
- people are motivated by purpose
- motivation is intrinsic
- the system (or context) shapes behaviour
- acting outside your values is stressful
- cooperation is more effective than competition
- creativity and compliance are mutually exclusive
2. Write down your organisation’s true values
Now think about your organisation’s real, usually unspoken, values. Not the ones circulated by your chief executive or HR. Check them with a trusted colleague to make sure they are along the right lines. It is important that your manager will recognise them. For example, my organisation believes:
- competition improves performance
- bonuses motivate people
- people can’t be trusted
- customers can’t be trusted
- management team knows best
- individual effort is the main differential in levels of performance
- people need to be controlled or they won’t do anything
- failure doesn’t exist here
3. Now look for common ground between your own values and the organisation’s real values
If there isn’t any common ground, like in the case above, you could leave. You can show your manager why. If you can’t or don’t want to leave, go to step 4.
4. Compare your own values with your organisation’s espoused values
Now look at your organisations espoused values – the ones in your corporate plan or on your website. You might find them on a chart on the wall. You can assume that your chief executive and directors would like your organisation and its employees to act in accordance with these values. Compare this list with your own values. Is there any common ground? If yes, write down the points of agreement, call it ‘The List of Hope’ and move to step 5.
5. Take ‘The List of Hope’ to your appraisal
Talk to your manager about how you can help the organisation act in accordance with these shared values. On my list, there was one point in common about cooperation. The organisation I worked for wanted to become ‘One Council’, instead of lots of departments doing their own thing. I agreed.
So, in my appraisal, we discussed how I could help the corporate management team achieve this.
Suddenly I became useful. And I felt much better.