Mixed Messages About My Performance


I have been with the same company for 15 years, I have enjoyed many successes and promotions with this company, however in the past couple years a lot of downsizing has gone on and I have survived all of it and always been given more responsibility.

I have never been told I was doing anything wrong or in a bad way and always had a lot of praise and recognition. So, our year ended and I had a very good report card for the year, but last week I noticed a chart on the printer that had me ranked “substandard” and noted a re-review for improvement.

This blew me away! My boss has never ever talked with me about the need to improve anything. So my annual review was the next day after I saw that document. I was expecting the worst, but no talk about a re-review or anything bad that wasn’t described as “no one did this very well, we are still learning new aspects of our job.”

So I am so confused. I got a raise and a bonus, but seeing that is really driving me crazy. I am concerned about my career now and feel like I should have no reason to be. Obviously I don’t want to bring this up and make it look like I was snooping around or anything,

What should I do?




Dear Worried:

If you got a raise AND a bonus and your boss didn’t say you were substandard, there are only a few possible reasons for what you saw: *You misunderstood something you saw. *You were allowed to see that printout as a joke or as an attempt to rattle you for some reason. *The areas of work in which your boss said no one did very well since they were still learning, was considered reason to mark you as substandard. However, upon review by someone else or upon re-consideration, your boss decided that didn’t indicate your overall level of work and he didn’t want to demoralize you by making it seem so serious. Plus, he realized it would be hard to justify a raise and bonus, which you deserved, if he was giving you a substandard in some aspect of your work. So, the printed copy you saw was shredded and a new one was made.

If you don’t want to say you saw something on the printer, try this: Send an email or memo to your boss and say that you’ve been thinking about your evaluation review and want to ask for his assistance in improving your work. Say that you appreciated the positive comments he made and, of course, the bonus and raise, and you want to ensure that the confidence he showed in you is justified fully.

Then, suggest one or two areas in which you think you could make improvement. For example, time management, which almost everyone can improve, and communications internally and externally, which almost everyone can improve.

Finally, ask if there are other, more specific areas of work he would like you to focus on in order to be more effective, and let him know that you will work on those areas if he has ideas. You might even want to mention the areas he brought up in the review.

Close with another thank you for his assistance and support and tell him that you know the organization is going through changes, but you are looking forward to the best times ever in the coming year.

If you don’t use email or memos, you could tell him those things personally, but I think it would be good to have anything you write and he responds in writing.

That would be an easy way to find out for sure and it also would be a way to show social graces and appreciation for the efforts of your boss, since he had to ask for your raise and bonus.

I always remind employees that no one higher up sits around and thinks of those who should get raises and bonuses–those are nearly always recommended by a supervisor or manager. So, this would acknowedge that and also clear up your concerns.

If your boss’s response doesn’t say you have substandard areas that REALLY need to be improved, just figure you either were incorrect in what you saw, incorrect in how you interpreted it, a mistake was made or it was invalid for some other reason. Focus on your work and support others as well since others may have the same concerns you do.

Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens with this.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.