Poor performance review doesn’t ring true

I recently received my second yearly review from my manager. He has been my manager for a little over two years, when my former manager quit. I have been with my company for eleven years.


I don’t think anything could beat the horrible remarks of last year’s review but I was mistaken. Despite the positive feedback I get from his boss (the site manager), as well as people from other sites in North America, including our site, this man will not give me a compliment. I recently spent three months in our US operation (I’m from Canada), on a special project. This opportunity came from the site manager there, not from my boss, of course.


On this year’s review, I found his remarks to be cruel, unprofessional, personal and downright hurtful. He twists words and situations to his advantage. Worst of all, he makes me question my abilities. I know I’m good at what I do (inventory control), but at times I find myself second-guessing myself. I hate that. He is arrogant, cocky and his condescending tone is very difficult to take.


I have spoken to the site manager twice. Things improve for a time but eventually return to the way things were. My concern is--with the poor reviews I have received at the hands of this "manager,” my chances of advancement may be slim. Do you have any advice?



You should be concerned. No matter what other people are saying about you, they aren’t writing scathing performance reviews and putting them in your permanent file. Your manager can derail your career.


Several things are troubling. I gather from your letter that your manager reports to the site manager. You have gone over your boss’s head to the site manager to complain. The site manager appears to have talked to him about it because his behavior improves for awhile. This tells me that the site manager is not truly holding him accountable and probably doesn’t view this as serious enough to closely monitor his behavior. In addition, I suspect going over your boss’s head really got him angry. This has made matters worse.


Here is a strategy to consider:


  1. Although you are angry about your manager’s style, try to set aside your anger and see if he has given you any feedback that contains a grain of truth. While this may be difficult, it’s important that you consider areas in which you need to improve. You could email your boss, “Could you give me some specific examples of the work you want me to improve?” (If he can’t document any clear examples on his return email, I’d save a copy of it for documentation, to be used later.)


  1. Ask your manager and site manager to gather input on your performance from other stakeholders. It appears that they see your performance more positively than your boss does, so it’s important to give the site manager (and your manager) a balanced view. You might say, “If you think I’m doing this poorly on my work (meaning the performance review), I think it’s very important to know what my internal customers think of my work, as well, so I can develop a comprehensive action plan.” Chances are your stakeholders will make your boss look like a fool.


  1. Ask key stakeholders, such as the site manager of your three month project, to write a letter or even a formal review of your work. Ask that this be put in your file and make sure a copy is sent to your managers.


  1. Keep clear documentation of all these steps and responses from your boss. Take them to your site manager and write an objective, unemotional letter indicating all the steps you have taken. You want to prove that you are professional and that feedback from everyone who works with you is excellent. If your boss’s performance review is clearly out of line (your evidence might even expose it as harassment), ask your site manager to take steps to correct the situation. If no action is taken, you have three choices: ask for a transfer, quit or consult a lawyer.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit JoanLloyd.com to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.