Dear Working Wise:
I just received a poor performance review from a new manager after years of great reviews from other managers. I don’t feel the review was fair. The manager minimized my successes and emphasized two negative things. Can an employee contest a performance evaluation? Signed, Angry
Most of us take pride in what we do and how we do it. I can understand why you feel upset—you probably feel underappreciated, attacked, and cheated—but you will have to put your feelings aside to avoid making things worse.
Alberta Employment Standards does not address performance reviews—they are a matter between you and your employer. But, there are some things you can do to actively manage the issue and avoid another negative review.
Keep doing a good job, getting along with others, and maintain a positive attitude.
Don’t discuss your review—or your feelings about your manager—with co-workers.
Address the review:
· Take a day to calm down and separate emotion from fact.
· Read your review again with an open mind. Try to put yourself in your manager’s shoes—is your manager at least partially right?
· Make a list of the points you agree with and the points you disagree on. Gather proof to strengthen your arguments, e.g., commendations, emails, kudos, successes, facts and numbers, etc. that show your contributions.
· Find out if your employer has a formal appeal process. If so, follow it.
· Ask your manager for a meeting to discuss your performance review.
· Be calm, respectful, professional and constructive during the meeting.
· Reassure your manager that you value your job and that you are committed to ensuring that your next review is great.
· Acknowledge the criticisms you agree with and what you plan to do to improve.
· Raise the criticisms you disagree with and present your evidence. Ask your manager to explain his concerns—Ask for specific examples to help you better understand.
· Ask your manager for specific suggestions how you can improve. Use this opportunity to clarify your manager’s expectations of you and ensure your job description reflects your current role.
· Develop an action plan that both you and your manager agree will address all the concerns. Capture your plan in writing so neither of you forget what you agreed.
· Don’t wait a year—ask for a three-month follow-up meeting to discuss your progress with your manager. You will avoid surprises and you will be able to remind your manager that you are working to the plan the two of you created. Your manager can also use this meeting to raise any new concerns before they end up on your permanent record.
· If your meeting doesn’t go well, you can ask your manager to attach a response letter to your appraisal. Your response letter should politely, respectfully, and professionally acknowledge the issues you agree with and what you plan to do to address them along with the points you disagree with.
A performance review should not be full of surprises—it is a review, not a reveal. If your manager is not giving you regular performance feedback, start asking what you are doing right and wrong so you can avoid a disappointing review next year.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.