The Deafening Egotism
A project manager feared that his most committed engineer couldn’t hear as well as he used to, and he thought that the engineer might need a hearing aid. He strategized a simple, informal test he could perform to get a better idea about this hearing loss. That afternoon, as the manager was walking through the corridor, he noticed his engineer busy working on the computer inside his cubicle cluster, as usual. Let me see at what distance I am able to solicit a response from him, he thought. Then in a normal tone he asked, ‘Suresh, what time is our customer call?” No response. So he moved closer, and about 10 feet behind his chair, repeated, “Suresh, what time is our customer call?” Still, no response. Next, he moved into the cubicle cluster where he was about 5 feet behind the engineer and asked, “Suresh, what time is our customer call?” Again, he got no response. So he walked up right in front of his desk, “Suresh, what time is our customer call?” “FOR THE FOURTH TIME, BOSS, I’VE SAID, 5 PM”!
Professional life is rampant with such spectacles; we often criticize the performance of our colleagues, not realizing that the problem may very much lie within us! Unfortunately, the problem gets aggravated when someone is sitting at a powerful position—how to candidly tell our bosses about their pockets of incompetence, particularly when we know that there is not much they can do about some of their native shortcomings?
This is precisely the reason why mature organizations take ‘reverse appraisals’ quite seriously; the reverse appraisal loops should carry clues on the areas of improvement as well as the unchangeable shortcomings of our managers. A detailed reverse analytics not only should help the organization scrutinize the sanity of forward appraisals, but also expedite or withhold senior promotions as necessary. A data-driven organization which encourages its employees to sincerely perform this duty without any apprehension or prejudices, is able to measure and reward its leaders fairly.