The Ethical Curve — A consultant’s Perspective

 Multi-Billion Dollar Companies, over Lakhs of Employees, brands on whose name people swear by for ethics, largest chains of voluntary corporate sustainability activities and one trusted ( system) APPRAISALS.
Appraisals have been long talked about in the Indian Education system with unending debates towards the means whereby the appraisals can be achieved, the flaws of the examination system and the need to bring a more practical system. Perspectives and insights cease to end. But few eyes are turned towards the big organizations wherein this humble appraisal system is used big time to judge individuals.
A bigger question a layman would ask is whether a 5 point system can be transparent enough to judge the capabilities of employees working together towards a common goal in an organization. Can any person with a couple of years more experience than the others handle the holy task of judging someone impeccably. Or can there be pitfalls between the person being reviewed and the reviewer towards the development of a flawless inter perspective. There seems to be more questions than answers here.
A huge help towards the realization of decisive impartiality and the unblemished functioning of this is provided by the bell Curve. This curve is magical in its approach towards providing the solution in the whole appraisal extravaganza. It simply puts that a flock  or collection of people, even though each of them selected with erstwhile precision follow a trend with about a quarter of low performers, another quarter  of great performers and the rest fall in the Umm.. Not so good, no so bad category.
This theory can very well be drawn in parallel to the hugely discussed story of a bulb manufacturing company. The manager of this hypothetical company believes that if he has to maintain stringent quality standards in his organization, every day out of the 1000 bulbs produced, 100 should be compulsorily rejected and the other hundred should branded as export quality. And then this manager allocates supervisor to decide the bulbs to be rejects and those to be marked as export quality out of the same produced lot. At the end of the day the Manager just asks for the daily “bell graph” of the bulb numbers with the corresponding reasons for selection or rejection he doesn’t really care about. And then the supervisors have to come out creative with the reasons they give towards the selection and rejection that should be melodious and sweet at the same time they should be reasons.
The ideology is fantabulous and agrees with our earlier discussion towards the bell curve. The application of this ideology is again better than its conceptualization. It is as simple as having an equation of an inverted parabola curve and fitting a few points in it. And the results are more than acceptable, like the bulb manufacturing firm owner in our case. In the end all are happy.
It is more like a reality TV shows with the Judge enjoying each performer’s efforts and in the end of the show giving them an emotional lift that “you are not a loser, it is just a few mistakes but yare are on the right track, and keep working it is just that you lose today. Let’s not talk about your performance any further. Look at your bright future…”
But somewhere deep down the spleen of an employee watching this show , there is a thought that what is such a process intended towards in an organization.
It is to make the employees dance in front of the judges, and make a fool of themselves, and then again dance and again make a fool of themselves. The stage changes, the judges change but the diplomacy remains the same.
Ever wondered why any celebrity that would make it to the KBC show, would always be so smart that he/she would always win the exact 50 lakhs. We cannot question the questions. The same questions are asked to every other participant, but the common participant sometimes has to take back his wallet all empty. This appears to be vague but it is applicable to our organization as well. May be.  An employee might have such celebrity eminence. Again these conceptions of a wandering mind are like a drop of water in an ocean in a country like India where partiality and corruption can sometimes be used synonymous to rights and equality.
But we still have a bigger question. Why do the companies do this hoopla? The organizations do not seem to use this as a driving force when they project themselves to be driven by the tough words like passion and innovation. They also do not seem to find out whether the employees fit in a project, because the organizations spend royally towards the teams involved in manpower allocation with the job to fix the right person, with the right skills to the right place. They also should not be using this as a reason to tighten the employees or to say in harsh words “to make the employees work” because the organization respects their individuality and these employees are the power that drive the company and the company boasts off the strength of these employees to get projects in the market.
And neither can they stereotype this as an attempt towards a process, as a process is a standard, transparent procedure to improve the productivity and this does not look transparent enough to qualify as a process.  Well the diplomatically correct answer to this question can be lengthier than the speech of a seasoned politician running for the next assembly elections, but once can clearly see the fine gaps which when peeped into would feel like exploring a black hole.
Consider the same intelligent bulb manufacturing firm manager. If he rejects those 100 bulbs daily, this would seriously raise questions on the machines that make these bulbs such. Carrying the same logic with the bell curve would mean that for an organization with 1 lakh employees, a quarter or 25000 are below average performers and not to forget the other 50,000 that are just average performers. And all these people are really so as the curve suggests. But a point that misses logic is why such a huge amount was spent to get the right mix of quality and talent acquired. And why is that after an astronomical figure spent towards training these individuals, a large time spent in settling them in the company, months of salaries given to them and the inconvenience carved to the clients is it discovered  that  the individuals are not in sync with the organization.
This is just one of the anomalies that one can observe with a naked eye. No one knows if digging deep into the functioning, someone may hit gold. Because thought the effects may look like 180 degrees
with all the suffering and mental agony for the employees, a time may come when it may turn form a 360 degree and hurt the organizations themselves. Because constantly beating a horse and telling him again and again that he is a donkey may someday make him believe that he is one.
It is high time the bulb manufacturing firm’s owner introspects whether the logic he is using is correct. Looking thought my frameless glasses; I find a straight line more ethical than a curve… J
.….. By deadmantalking


2 thoughts on “The Ethical Curve — A consultant’s Perspective

  1. Well articulated thoughts…. I agree with the thoughts and opinion of the writer, but ultimately, its a known fact that things are not gonna change in near future though…..

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