Luol Omoding had just been promoted to branch manager of Fortress Global Bank (FGB), after serving in the customer experience department diligently for five years. He was facing his first performance appraisal as the appraiser and not the appraisee. He resolved to be fair and unbiased in his judgments, and he wasn’t going to allow his emotions and personal feelings get involved.

When his first appraisee walked into his office, he saw it was Vivian. She was young, pretty and popular among her co-workers. The trouble was, her actual performance had been dreadful for the entire year.

When Omoding greeted her, he noticed that Vivian’s eyes were puffy and bloodshot, like she’d been crying seriously. He chose not to mention anything. Instead he gestured to her to take a seat so that the appraisal could begin.

No sooner had she taken her seat than Vivian began to pour out her heart to Omoding. He was extremely unprepared for such an event, as this was his first time to conduct an appraisal as a young manager. He became flustered, and not knowing what to do, offered her tissues and two soft pats on her back. He took his own seat, and listened while Vivian complained that this had been the worst year of her life.

Her landlord had increased the rent, so she had no choice but to use cheaper and slower means of transport to work everyday, and was arriving late. She complained that her sister had bewitched her boyfriend and stolen him from her, and that her heart was shattered to many small pieces. Her beloved grandfather had suffered a massive stroke and now was in a vegetative state. Even her cat, which she loved dearly, was torn up by the stray dogs in the neighborhood. It was all too much for her to bear, or so she said.

Omoding was new at the game but was not naïve. Yet he couldn’t ignore all the things Vivian said. So he offered her the free counseling offered by a bank sponsored counselor, but she declined with a small sob.

Omoding then decided to get on with the performance appraisal, even as Vivian’s sobs continued. He looked through her file and discovered that she had been performing poorly all year with regards to bringing new business for the bank. She’d been coming late consistently. Also, she had conducted only two thousand transactions all year, while her fellow tellers were averaging over seven thousand.

Omoding informed her of her poor performance and Vivian began to cry again in earnest. She pleaded with him, assuring him that the reason for her poor performance were the unfortunate events that had happened to her during the year. She promised that if she was given a favourable appraisal this year, next year she would do even better.

Omoding in an attempt to be objective, told Vivian that if everyone was allowed to use the difficulties in their personal lives to justify poor performance, there would be no profitable organization in existence. He then informed Vivian that whether or not she had a terrible year, her external circumstances wouldn’t make him give her a fake appraisal. He promised, however, that if her appraisal in comparison with the rest of staff, went reasonably well, she would likely be given a second chance to prove herself over the next year.

Vivian looked somewhat reassured and the sobbing stopped. For a first appraisal, Omoding felt like he handled this professionally.

As the door closed behind Vivian, he could not help but think, “What else do staff pull out of the hat at their appraisal interviews? Something needs to be done to take the threat out of them.

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