Questions About My Performance Review


I’ve worked at my current job for almost 11 years. For the first 7.5 years we were a private company and then we were sold. Now we are a public company and the company culture has changed 180 degrees. My current position was eliminated and I was moved into a newly created Help Desk department with a new boss because it was very similar to my last position.

I had always gotten a good performance reviews and the standard raise of 2.5 to 3.0 percent. When I went to sign my last yearly review my boss told me that she had received negative comments about my job performance for other members of the main office staff. She had not mentioned these comments when I filled out the review but mentioned this on the date these reviews were to be signed and turned in to the department head. I ask why these comments were not addressed when they were received. She said this is the way she works. She gathers the comments during the year, evaluates them, and then waits until review time to address them. She would not say how many comments were received, who made the comments, or what was said. She said this was the gist of the comments received. You did not solve the problems presented as fast as the person reporting the problem thought it could be fixed and that you made people feel foolish in the way you solved their problems.

To address these problems she said I needed to take into account who was reporting the problem and to fix the problem accordingly. I said I would try. I admit that I am not the best at interpersonal communications. To that end I put in for two classes in communication and one class for time management. They were denied. I put in for training in Microsoft Office 2007, which will start using shortly. The class was denied. The other three members of our department and my boss loaded Office 2007 on their company laptops and started using it. I do not have a company laptop and was not offered one so I could start using Office 2007.

Flash forward six months to mid-year review time. I had ask my boss to let me know if I was doing anything wrong during this time so I could address the issue. Nothing was mentioned. During the mid-year review she told me how good I was doing and the projects I would be working on for the rest of the year. The boss went in for her review with the department head. She called me into her office afterwards and said she had bad news for me. The department head said he had heard negative comments on my job performance from others members of the main office staff and was not happy. I ask for details but was told he had nothing more to say in the matter. He also said there was the perception that I was not pulling my weight in the department since I was not seen moving around the company fixing problems. That was never my job. My job had always been to take the majority of the calls our department receives, fix what I can, and reassign the ones I can’t. Doing this allows the other three members of the department to move around the company fixing problems. My calls number reflects this, as they are three to five times what the other members record. My customer satisfaction rating is 93 percent and I receive three or four very positive written comments each month from our callers.

Then it happened, after over 7000 calls, I received an email from one of my callers saying the help I offered caused considerable damage to their equipment. The person said they had to call an outside company in to fix their equipment at their own expense. Then this person went on to talk about my lack of training in current technology. I showed this to my boss to see how to respond to the accusations made. She showed it to the department head and I was called into his office to talk about this.

Nothing was mentioned about the false accusations in the email but much was made about my lack of customer service and communication skills that would lead to such a situation. He said my job depended on my improving these skills. I ask him for suggestions on classes to improve these skills and was told I could not learn these skills from a class or a book. I was told I needed to observe how my boss handled people and emulate her. I talked to my boss later to see how we wanted to do this and she said she did not know how to help me. The funny thing is that I received an email from the boss of the person that sent the original email by this time. He said this person was entirely out of line to take his frustration out on me and that he had been reprimanded for his unprofessional behavior. My boss said the apology was a nice gesture but it didn’t change anything. My boss scheduled a training workshop for the department. She later postponed the workshop for three weeks because the training materials were late in arriving. The day before the workshop she postponed it again, this time for four weeks. I’m at a loss as to how to proceed.


What Do I Do Next?


Dear What Do I Do Next?:

You describe a long history of inaction by your boss and your frustration over negative evaluations. Your boss’s policy of compiling complaints is not the way to be effective. Complaints should be handled quickly if they really are important, not months afterward. Your objection to this is understandable. Can you change her or her boss? Can you change? Those are two questions obviously have not been answered in the affirmative and can’t be answered from afar. All I can see for you to do is hang in there if and until you have another job offer. Eleven years should have earned you respect; however, from what you say they have not with the current management.

Because of the volume of you work as compared to coworkers, I don’t think you really have to worry about being fired. However from what you write, your boss’s shape-up improve are warnings. If they are made in writing, you can respond with a rebuttal to be placed in you file. You might check your company’s policy manual to learn the protocols for discipline and firing. Meanwhile, compile a portfolio of positive reviews, number of calls completed with no criticism and the one that had a second-hand apology, and projects completed. Make more than one copy. You might need them at your next confrontation with your boss or when applying for another job.

Since the new training is on the way, wait. Pick up as much as you can from coworkers; surely you have developed a good working relationship with some of them. My associate Workplace Doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe, might have some thing to add and if not do scan her advice to many questions in our archive because she is thorough and just reading them should help you decide if there is something else for you to do. Also click on her name on our home page and you will access her own Internet site. It’s informative and inspiring. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Protect your coworkers and boss’ egos, and by example help them find the greater satisfaction in what can be accomplished if and when you work as a team.

William Gorden