Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about low performance appraisal:
I returned from a year’s maternity leave seven months ago. I just had a performance appraisal and it has upset and disgusted me. I am a very hard worker, well mannered and try to help colleagues to the best of my ability, but have found myself in a situation where I feel I am being mildly bullied.
During my appraisal with my supervisor today, I found I was marked unsatisfactory in the areas of attitude about work and work performance. This shocked me because I feel I am good in both these areas and have never been told any different. What shocked me more than anything was that my supervisor is rarely in the office and she said the appraisal reflected what she has heard from other people.
I feel a lot of this has been stirred up by a colleague who was made senior administrator while I was away, who has sometimes treated me differently and unfairly than others in the office. Please advise me of what I can do, as I am suffering extreme anxiety and I feel I being driven out of my job.
Signed, Feeling anxious
Dear Feeling anxious:
You have two issues to deal with it seems. One is the appraisal and the other is what you refer to as mild bullying. Both of those point to a need for some effective communication between you and your supervisor. You may want to write a letter in which you ask for an interview and use the letter to state your concerns. Or, you may want to simply ask for time to talk about your situation and ask for her assistance and advice. You can say that during your first talk about the appraisal you were somewhat shocked and couldn’t think of how you wanted to respond to it, but now that you’ve had a chance to think about it you want to talk to her.
Be honest and say you were upset over the appraisal because you think you deserve something much better than that. Give examples of things you have done that go beyond the norm. Be prepared to show her ways in which you have shown interest in work and a positive attitude.In a courteous way, ask why you have not been told when you have done or said something that indicated a problem, but instead only found out at appraisal time. (If your company has an HR section you may want to check with them to see if there is a requirement for counseling you or warning you about problem areas prior to appraisal.)
Ask for examples of behaviors that you need to improve. Do this with the attitude of wanting to improve, not just challenging the supervisor’s judgment. Consider asking your boss if you are at risk of being fired over the issues mentioned in your appraisal. You may find that is not at all on the minds of management. If it is a likelihood, you need to know and you need to know how to fix it. Ask what is needed, then decide if you can make the changes that are required. Then, also be honest about the person who seems to be negative about you and say what indicates that to you. You didn’t say if someone other than that person was involved in unpleasant behavior, but whatever that behavior is, talk about it and give examples and witnesses if any.Reassure your supervisor that you want to do a good job but say that right now you feel very anxious about your future and would like to know exactly where you stand with her. Ask her what she thinks you should do about the behavior of others when it seems bullying to you.The reason you want to have examples is that “bullying’ means different things to different people.
The correct definition of bullying is behavior that is done to strike at someone’s ego and humiliate them or make them feel powerless and inadequate. It is more than unpleasantness or rudeness. Be sure of what has happened and when, and be able to discuss what you have done about it.As far as the Senior Administrator goes, I don’t know what his or her authority over you might be, so that would be something you would have to determine. When you see you are being treated unfairly and you have proof of it, discuss that with your supervisor. If, however, the behavior doesn’t affect your work or your job security, you may find you are better off ignoring it and focusing on doing the best work possible.
Since you have a small child you probably are busy at home as well as at work. You may find that your overall fatigue adds to your anxiety about work. See if you can find a way to increase your sleep and ensure healthy eating and exercise. Enjoy your baby and your family and try to shake off work worries when you go home. Take a break when you walk in the house and remind yourself that you can do nothing about work issues until you are back at work.Then, when you go back to work, only concern yourself about things that could truly cause you to lose your job, not just things that frustrate you. If there are ways you can encourage better communication at work, do so. Befriend those who may need a friend. Volunteer for projects or to help. Smile and show enthusiasm. Be such an obviously good employee that no one can complain. Develop many examples of your good work, in case this situation should come up again.I hope these thoughts will help you develop a plan of action for this frustrating situation. Best wishes.
Tina Lewis Rowe