Nightmare Performance Review

Question:

I joined a small company as Engineering Manager after working 10 years for 3 large companies. My education and experience level was well above the norm for this small company. My position reported directly to the President. I was given the task to manage new product introduction for the company.

During my first year on the job my boss was openly supportive. We had significant success launching new product lines and negotiating cost reduction on existing product lines. I kept very thorough records of my work activities and I documented all my accomplishments. However, I noticed that my boss began to treat me with resentment. My boss gave me a performance review after my first 1.25 years on the job. The performance review was “average” at best, and it did not make specific reference to one single accomplishment of mine. I asked my boss why my accomplishments were not included in the performance review. His exact response was “you can break your arm patting yourself on the back”. He also advised that I could appeal the performance review results to the company owner, but it would be “suicide” to my career. I advised my boss at the time that I wanted to have a few days to review the performance review before signing it. During that time I drafted a detailed list of my accomplishments and attached them to the performance review. I then signed the performance review and submitted it to my boss. He exploded. From that point on my relationship with my boss deteriorated. He refused to openly recognize my accomplishments and he openly took credit for my work. This was despite the fact that I had considerable documented evidence illustrating exactly what I did for the company. I later learned that he claimed to the company owner that he was running the Engineering Department in addition to being President. That is absurd.

He kept me on staff for another 1.25 years while we continued to launch new product lines. He told me over and over that my position with the company was secure despite the fact that our relationship was obviously fractured. One month after the last new product line was introduced, I was informed I no longer had a job. I was given 30 days to transition out the door. I did not receive a performance review for my 2nd year of work, though my contribution to the company was tremendous.

Do you think there was any way to “win” in this sort of situation?

I have noted the company did basically nothing re. new product launches during the first year after I left. I believe my boss never intended to keep me on staff after the new products were launched. This has been a very bitter experience for me and it has left me feeling that I can not trust another supervisor.

Signed,

No Longer Wanted


Answer:

Dear No Longer Wanted:

Your record of accomplishments and rebuttal to the mediocre review were about all you could do. You are better off to find a place to work that values responsible and talented people. Shake off the dust and don’t let the door to hit your behind as you head out. Don’t obsess about this bitter experience. Learn from it. Trust is earned and not something that you give so neither assume you can trust or are cynically distrusting of future superiors. Carefully investigate before signing on your next job. Learn how that place treats its employees. Possibly seek out a good job placing agency, one that specializes in your field of engineering. In addition to your own documentation, get letters of support from those with whom you worked to launch the product lines. Don’t allow your self to be sour. Many successful people have said being fired is what launched new careers. You can cope.

William Gorden