Appraisals and Annual plans – two interdependent activities

The beginning few months of a new year are devoted to two key activities, both at the other end of the spectrum but super connected. One, is the year end performance and evaluation. Second is the future planning for the incoming financial year. Each feed into the other, are interdependent, and have a strong bearing on the other.

For me, the topmost example is how we at Bayer changed our CSR strategy based on learnings from 2020 and incorporated them in the annual plan of 2021. We continue to now follow that process for 2022 also.

Some insights that I would like to share: –

Looking backward

The first step here is to look at the year gone by and evaluate the impact and the outcome of your work. No one else understands the value of impact measurement as much as we communicators and public relations professionals. It is in our DNA – what cannot be measured, cannot be managed.

When you begin the annual planning for 2022-23 look back at 2021-22 and write down the key learnings. What worked? What did not go well? Given a chance, what would you improve/delete/accelerate?

None of these are easy questions to answer. Many programs that we run are the outcome of our passion and commitment. They are a part of us. To let go or to give it a new shape will always be a challenge. But that is exactly where the opportunity lies! The opportunity to create something new and different.

Looking forward

Both, year-end appraisals as well as next year annual plans, circle around performance. That is the common denominator.

I recall in one of my assignments how the understanding of the overall business plan had us revamp our whole communications strategy and narrative. What was new was the need to have impact driven outcomes and stay authentic to the brand/organisation.

For communicators working in organisations that have multiple functions/departments, the biggest challenge is in creating a ‘one’ narrative that has a common thread running across all functions. This unified approach is critical to not just present one face but to also protect and safeguard the overall reputation of the organisation. Communicators and public relation agencies are the harbingers of advocacy and that of reputation building. A strong narrative is the foundation that everything else rests on.

Our profession is a very dynamic one and we need to keep pace with the fluid and ever-changing external media driven environment. We now have metaverse, which was unheard of a couple of years ago! It is only when we are willing to discard the old style of functioning can we open ourselves to embrace new trends.

Looking inward

Layered between the looking backward and looking outward actions is a most important search that we need to embark on. That is of looking inwards. Of asking ourselves – what is our purpose in this organisation? What do we aspire for? Are we on the right track? What are the areas of improvement? What behavior do we need to let go of?

These set of questions may well be the toughest to answer. For, we need to seek the answers within. Self-reflection is a very potent tool that can show us the mirror and the way ahead for change. Beware though of falling prey to undermining your own efforts and/or underestimating your potential. That is a spiel that one needs to stay away from and not allow it to spiral fast.

To reiterate, both, yearend appraisals as well as annual plans provide you with strong indicators to ring in the new and discard the old. It is really up to you how you utilise these two critical performance management tools to your advantage to forge ahead in your professional career.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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