A Game of Apples and Oranges

Recently in IIM Shillong, we had Ms. Sudipta Sen Gupta, Senior General Manager – Marketing, Carlsberg India for an informal interaction with the participants. During her presentation she talked about a current dilemma she faced regarding her performance appraisal. She happened to mention that her performance will be appraised only on basis of the target numbers and circumstances will not be considered. The next day we got talking about performance measurement and appraisal with our HR faculty which raised more questions than it answered. Should task performance be the sole criteria for appraisal? Should context be considered when evaluating results?

Very often an individual is judged on his task performance while the context is completely ignored. One example that is very close to all of us is our MBA admission process. The only way an individual gets called for any prestigious business school interview process is if one has a good/great CAT percentile and a few more qualifying numbers. Rest everything is immaterial. Just like a set of 10 digits of a mobile number, individuals are nothing more than a set of numbers in an excel row. No matter under what physical or mental condition you faced during the CAT test, your future or near future is determined on how those few hours played out on the D- day. Just to give an example, a friend of mine got freaked out because her terminal wouldn’t start. Thought she got her 140 minutes, in her anxiety she screwed up her exam. The selected few who managed to comfortably sail through the exam with the best of luck and hard work on their side, managed to get calls from their desired institutes. After one gets a call, one will be evaluated on basis on numbers. I fail to see the logic behind putting two different people belonging to different social, cultural and educational backgrounds on a same scale of numbers. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. This same logic is again applied during the time of placements. Companies reject candidates in the first round itself because they do not have the required numbers in one form or another. No benefit of doubt is given to anybody. Hence we see that our performance evaluation is solely based on task and not on context.

I believe that no individual can be defined solely by the numbers on his resume just as no character can be understood devoid of a story. Hence it is imperative for us that we judge a book not just but the cover price and number of pages but also through the depth of its contents.

– Paras Parekh

I am a participant and a member of the Alumni Association @IIM Shillong, PGP 2014-2016. Love to write business plans and currently in the process of diversification and have started writing articles recently.