Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about serious criticism:
I had my annual review this week by a boss to whom I started reporting to only a few months ago. In general, I have feel he’s a good manager. The draft of the review that my boss sent me was glowingly positive. However, it also contained the following section: ~~~ Areas for Improvement – Choose words and actions carefully when stressed, upset, or emotional. – On occasion, you have let some stress that you were feeling spill over to affect the working atmosphere for coworkers. While this is difficult to prevent in times of stress, it should be minimized. – Be diplomatic, even in routine interactions with colleagues. – Recognize and accept limitations placed on co-workers. ~~~ I was completely shocked and dismayed.
The last two points are just untrue. The first two have some justification but are also unfair and untrue as written.I emailed my boss that I didn’t understand these comments but thought they weren’t fair. He replied in part, “I thought that I had written a positive review with some minor points for improvement, but obviously I have stirred up an unexpected reaction” and “Overall I am very happy with how things have gone… The comments about which you are concerned are a small issue.”I provided some detail of why I thought the criticisms weren’t true and weren’t fair, and he wrote back that he had removed them from the review.
We had the verbal part of the review today, and he reiterated that he thought I had misinterpreted him. He also said that he originally wrote the third point to be “be more diplomatic,” but in an edit he removed the word “more.”We ended the conversation today on a positive note and he said he wants me to be happy. However, I am extremely troubled. He has been a manager in my company for a great many years, and I think he knows what he is doing.
The only thing that has worried me about this guy is that he doesn’t always come clean about things—for example, if I make a suggestion that he doesn’t agree with, he doesn’t say so, but just ignores the suggestion.Am I wrong in thinking that these are very serious criticisms? I don’t understand why he is claiming that they’re not a big deal. I’m confused both that he put them in my review and that he removed them so easily. I don’t know if I should let the matter drop, or if I should try to get to the bottom of it.I like my job very much, and I’d like to make it work. Thanks,
Signed, Bad Review
Dear Bad Review:
You have reflected on what might have caused the suggestions for improvement. You have responded and consulted with your superior; so now do not be obsessed with criticism. If the boss had felt they were serious, your confrontation with him should have surfaced the incidents that prompted them. Apparently, he chose not to reveal them. So if you cannot recall what they might have been, don’t try to dredge them up. Even if the criticisms, in your estimation, are false, can you learn from them? Are you defensive about criticism? Can you ask yourself how you would like to be talked to? Do you listen and speak gently? Do you ask or do you give orders? Are you abrupt or aloof? Do you see how you might make others’ jobs easier? Are you appreciative? Do you express thanks easily? Are you a cheerleader? How do you carry yourself? Is your nonverbal demeanor abrupt, assertive or aggressive? Some reflection from that mirror, mirror on the wall will reveal if you are indeed present in others’ presence.
Rather than focus on the negatives you have strong positives in your review. Now look for ways in which you are and can serve your internal and external customers better. How might you make your boss’s, others’, and your own job easier and more enjoyable? Can you cut wasted time, money and energy? Have you a job description? Have you consulted regularly with your boss about assignments, projects, and their whens, wheres, and whats? Have you clarity about deadlines? Who must be consulted, informed, and approve of what you do? These are the details that are vital to ongoing to being process oriented.
In short, are you becoming a team player who does her share, passes to the ball and helps others score? Do you take these thoughts defensively or as intended to be helpful? Get the point? Creating the spirit we suggest by our signature WEGO is a continuous effort to make independent-mindedness interdependent-mindedness. Feel free to update us from time to time on how well things are going for you. That’s the way we all learn from each other.