Performance Rating System

Numerous grievances of the associates of the giant company are related to the current appraisal system. In a nut shell with this system it can not be justified why a person should get 3 or 4 instead of 4 or 5. The rating 2 is given to send a message to a team member that his or her service is not up to expectation of the team and he or she should work hard to maintain his or her position in the team. The rating 1 is simply saying that one must start looking for better opportunity elsewhere. 5 is maximum we can do for an associate being within the appraisal system. So we do not have to convince one about these last two ratings.

The issue is with rating 2, 3 & 4. Convincing one with rating 2, 3 or 4 is required for the benefit of the company and the individual. The associate with rating 2, 3 or 4 wants to know what he or she needs to do to get 3, 4 or 5. So we have to very precisely define these three special rating 3, 4 & 5 so that all will have a clear idea when setting the goal to get a challenging 3, big 4 or mighty 5.

Most of the current goals are not realistic for many reasons. Say a goal of database uptime that can not be achieved by more than 100% but an associate will get 5 only if he or she hits 110% of the target. Another example is targeting "zero" issues when a 5 needs 110% achievement.

So we came up with some goals that are

1) Realistic
2) Measurable
3) Achievable

Point 1 and 3 are self explanatory. If somebody ever achieved these goals then these are realistic and achievable. Lets talk about what is measurable and how.

Example of some measurable goals (that you can actually measure against available data)

1) Number of closed tickets with proper documentation (value adding work log, solution summary and solution detail - so that others can solve similar issues getting information from these tickets).
2) Knowledge sharing session conducted or documents created for knowledge repository (based on your work experience - not just ready made materials on internet).
3) Number of billable hours generated (this is directly related to monetary interest of our company).

Note that I do not think number of customer complaints or escalations against you should be part of the performance matrix because it only proves that you work; if somebody does not work at all there will be no escalation against him or her.

So please read on to understand the rating from a real life perspective in plain and simple English text. This is result of my 12 years of experience in current organization and more than five years with other companies and please take it only as my personal opinion - nothing official about it.

A description of fictitious rating "6" is given for the shake of completeness of the findings.

(Not all qualities are expected to be seen in a person; these are just outlines in which you will try to see yourself.)

Rating Meaning

The Gurus (Hard to find and so currently not in use)

  1. You publish books

  2. You give lectures world wide

  3. You hold high posts/responsibilities in different groups/companies

  4. You are an entrepreneur

  5. If you are here then it must be your part time job


High Flyer (You are a must/mast in the team)

  1. You are the key member of the team
  2. Three persons required to replace you without generating much turbulence
  3. Team is dependant on you for at least three areas of the team activity
  4. You are the authority of at least three technical or business areas
  5. Your presence increases the visibility of the team
  6. You are self motivated and can motivate your team
  7. You bring new businesses for the company
  8. You are proactive in leading & guiding the team
  9. When you call a meeting everybody joins if feasible and stays throughout the meeting
  10. Excellent verbal communication. When you open your mouth people just love to listen whatever it may be.
  11. Excellent writing skill. People save 90% of your mails in a special folders for future reference.
  12. When you discuss a problem you almost know the solution.
  13. If you leave the company your team members will keep in touch with you
    for the rest of their life.

To measure the above see the Practical Goal Setting


Extra Ordinary (Please stay back with us)

  1. You are an asset of the team
  2. Two persons are required to replace you from the team
  3. Team is dependant on you for at least two areas of the team activity
  4. You are master of at least two technical area
  5. Your presence is very much prominent in the team
  6. You are self motivated
  7. You bring new businesses for the team
  8. You are reliable and do take ownership of any work assigned
  9. When you call a meeting 80% of the attendees join and at least 80% of them stays throughout the meeting.
  10. When you speak to a crowd people will know that they will learn something for sure.
  11. People save 50%  of your mails for their knowledge base.
  12. When you discuss a problem people expect that the solution will come from you with a little help from experts in other knowledge areas.
  13. If you leave the company your team members will keep in touch with you
    at least for the next five years.

To measure the above see the Practical Goal Setting


Very Good (You are required to continue with the team)

  1. You are required in the team and with a little more effort you can surpass yourself
  2. You are replaceable with a competent person only after proper handover/takeover and KT
  3. Team is dependant on you for at least one area of the team activity
  4. You know at least one technology well enough to handle any issue independently
  5. Your presence increases the team strength
  6. You can be motivated
  7. You can generate extra billable work hours for yourself
  8. You are sincere at work and reliable to be delegated with any work small or large
  9. When you call a meeting 70% of the attendees join and at least 50% of them stays throughout the meeting.
  10. When you speak in a meeting people tries to understand you.
  11. People save 30% of your mails for their value addition.
  12. When you discuss a problem it is a serious matter and people want to work with you to get a solution.
  13. If you leave the company your team members will keep in touch with you
    at least for one year more.

To measure the above see the Practical Goal Setting


Need Improvement (Work hard to secure your place in the team)



Need Counseling and Motivation (Work hard to secure your place in the company)



What I described above is a human perspective to judge a person and his or her performance. But in a mammoth organization like ours we need to make it measurable and scalable. For that we need some tool and the existing one is sufficiently good - and let us assume that we are temporarily authorized to slightly modify the terms and goals as per our understanding so that we can measure the performance more logically. If that would be the case then the following would be my choice of goals and target. When the target number are same for different rating it will depend on quality of the achievement. Again I am considering the 90% of the company force at frontline who face the clients and do the actual work for the company and not the rest 10% of the big bosses who decides how to distribute the fruits earned from the business tree. You are welcome to share your experience in the discussion area at the bottom of this page.

Practical Goal Setting

Goal/Attribute for one Year
Difficulty levels are high at top and low at bottom

Target for Rating

5 4 3 2 1
Number of reimbursable certification (the best - a win-win situation for all) 1 1 0 0  
Number of accomplishments highly praised by the clients/customers 3 2 1 0  
Number of new operational/performance metric created for the team 3 2 1 0  
Number of feasible cost reduction formula suggested or implemented in the team 2 1 1 0  
Number of accepted PIP 3 2 1 0  
Number of working automated script in operational area that reduces at least one man hour per day 3 2 1 0  
Number of documentation, presentations or white papers created for team knowledge share 5 4 3 2  
Number of value adding knowledge sharing sessions conducted 3 2 1 0  
Number of resources developed near the same level of or better than self 2 1 1 0  
Number of extra billable hours (multiples of 100) 2 1 1 0  
% of incident tickets without proper documentation (work log, solution summary and detail) 3 5 7 10  
Contribution to team development facilitating offshore onsite movement 1 1 1 0  
% of "Yes" votes from the peers to the question "Are you comfortable working with this person and willing to work together in other projects in future if required? (the easiest - requires just to be a team member with good spirit and feeling for others) 90 70 50 30  


NB: I am not considering those cases where you got a two (with full moral support to those who really need to improve) because you had an old fight with the project leader or changed the project during dirty appraisal time for some reason or left the organization - in that case you are not reading this article anyway. Also I am not considering the "5"s (with full respect to the real performers) those are not really role models as defined above but are having ability to manage and influence vital stake holders (of project appraisal) in different ways or visit adjacent tea stall at right times. These cases are exceptions and cover 5% of the company population and cannot be defined by simple logic. My view dealt with the rest of the 95% of TCS people 90% of which are never happy with the performance rating they are given.

Also I intentionally forgot the convention that as you are at onsite you will score less than your counterpart at off shore with same capability. The sweetness of dollar certainly has some invisible effect on this appraisal system. To get something you need to sacrifice something in real world.

To understand what it looks like from the other sides of the fences let us see the rating system from three different human perspectives - Appraise,
Appraiser and Management.

Appraise (you - our main concern) is just like a newly married bride who left her father's home to stay with her husband, work very hard through out the year to please everybody including in-laws and in-laws of the in-laws and at the end of the year her husband (PL/GL) informs her that there is no special place for her in his heart.

Appraiser is left in more dilemma. He started the journey with all his friends and families inflicting lots of enthusiasm and hope in everybody's mind and at the middle of the journey when the boat is being drowned he has limited number of life belts and he has to choose very quickly out of all his family members and friends (say all are very near and dear) whom he will save.

And what about company management? He is like the great father of a big family. In time of economic crisis realizing that he cannot afford to send all his children to good school or provide them all with good food he needs to choose very quickly on whom he should spend wisely for higher education and costly nutritious food so that he can get a quick return of his investment. In the pyramid structure of the corporate family this is quite obvious and we have to live with that.

If you got a '2' for changing project please know the fact that you are not alone and a huge population of your organization have sometime in past became victim or near victim of this system and if you find somebody who never faced this situation or felt the shiver he or she is either not in this organization or one of the lucky 10% of the total company population I am intentionally forgetting for the time being.

Also there is a big fallacy of the current rating system with which the giant company keeps control on its associates (read workers). Say two football teams are going to play matches in world cup for the company - one is Brazil and another Bangladesh (just an example). Now we all know that the worst player of Brazil team is far better than the best player of Bangladesh team. Still at the end of the year the best player of Bangladesh team (and their coach obviously) will get 5 or 4 and the worst player of Brazil team (and the extra players) will get all 2 and 3.

Not to make things light but to take into account the other views I wanted to include some interesting comments I found on the net on what causes an appraiser gives when he or she needs to give low rating to his or her teammates. Top 10 reasons are given below:

10. Our project doesnít have money.
09. I made a mistake while giving the values as I was doing it in late night. Please donít make it as an issue I will compensate next time.
08. You have been given better rating last time (or will be given next time), so give chance to others.
07. We will send you to onsite soon (or you are already at onsite).. so your rating doesnít matter.
06. You havenít contributed anything to the Centre level activities (dancing or singing???)
05. You havenít done any certifications this half yearly, Next time try to improve. (Btw the teammate probably works 12 hours shifts everyday)
04. We thought of giving you even lower rating, but I argued with top management for this rating for you.
03. You havenít contributed to "NoMax", "FIPs" blah blah blah...
02. If you want release I will give you lower rating and this is how it works in this company.
And the final weapon:
01. Your rating got reduced in curve fitting which is out of my hand. (As if curve is some indeterminate shape and values in curve are random)

While you are going to finish reading this article please remember there is always a big umbrella (called curve fitting) above all of our heads whether we like it or not and whatever we do we cannot get our heads out and above that umbrella. But there is no reason thinking that this appraisal rating system is the end of the world. If you have confidence in what you are thinking and doing there are hundreds of other ways to be rewarded. So next time never give up if you think you got a "bad" rating.

A man cannot be defeated unless he quits.