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Performance reviews and distinguishing the ‘Singer from the Song’

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Performance reviews and distinguishing the ‘Singer from the Song’

The ‘Media HR Summit 2010’, organised by the exchange4media Group in Delhi on July 30 saw discussions on wide-ranging HR related issues. The panel discussion on ‘Distinguishing the “singer from the song” while assessing and rewarding performance’, saw industry experts mulling over the key points in performance appraisals, especially in the media industry.

Ashutosh Khanna, Client Partner, KornFerry, moderated the discussion, while the panel members included Pankaj Raj, Managing Partner, Search Value; Sarabjeet Sachar, Founder and CEO, Aspiration; Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Managing Director, 9.9 Mediaworx; and Satyakki Bhattacharjee, Head - HR, MCCS.

Ashutosh Khanna commenced the discussion by pointing out the importance of assessing performance and the various problems in doing the same. He also pointed out how assessing performance was not common in the media industry.

Pankaj Raj compared the topic with his stance on the discussion and said that the ‘Singer’ figure could be compared that with every member in a company, while the ‘Song’ figure could be compared to the end result. He further said that a success story of any company was written when everyone was in harmony. He added, “The key pillars that one needs to understand in any discussion about performance will depend upon skill, knowledge, goals and measurement reviews.” However, he did not completely endorse the role of reviewing performance by HR in the media industry.

On the other hand, Sarabjeet Sachar felt, “HR can influence an organisation, depending on the values of the organisation.” He affirmed that HR had an active role to play, albeit it should know what its role was. He showcased the model of NaiDunia newspaper, and how HR had an active role to play even in the media industry. “There is an increased level of transparency and trust. The HR Business Head and the employees trust the system of reviewing. If the HR gets under the skin, a lot could be achieved,” Sachar pointed out.

According to Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, the main reason why performance reviews did not work was because they were not considered credible, or the person performing the reviews was not considered an expert at what he was doing. The pertinent question, he felt, was, “How can you improve credibility if the people don’t find the reviews credible? The person conducting the review has to be an expert in what he is doing and has to be trustworthy. A poignant problem that the reviewer faces after he conducts the review is how do you rate the person.” According to him, credibility, expertise in performance reviews and trustworthiness of the reviewer were the three points, improving which could make a review system successful.

Satyakki Bhattacharjee pointed out that the media industry was different from other industries and hence, there should be a different HR approach for it. Pointing out the differences, he said that most industries were ‘left brained’, which would ascribe quality of directness and rigidness. However, the media industry was ‘right brained’ with which quality of creativity is associated. However, he maintained that there had to be some kind of performance system for the media industry too. He summed up his argument by saying “By not following a proper appraisal system, one is depriving media professionals of the opportunity of growth.”

Dr Sinha summed up the discussion by stressing that there had to be a 360 degree approach to the performance reviewing system, whereby the reviewer (HR), the reviewed (employee), and his boss were kept in the loop. He concluded, “HR should merely be the custodian of the process and let the manager do what needs to be done.”

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