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Question....Performance Review at Work
Old 01-26-2008, 10:29 PM   #1
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Question....Performance Review at Work

I had my year end review last week.....bascially, my boss is happy with my work and I am doing great. He then brought up two points which floored me:

1) I am too "territorial" with my job. (I am his Executive Assistant, and support him and another director. There is another Project Coordinator who is supposed to support a Director (vacant position), two Associate Directors, and a Manager. My boss gives her a few things to do and then forgets what and asks me if they are done. She has at times encroached upon my job functions and I had asked her one time if something had changed....he over heard that and brought that example into the review.)

2) He said that I am not passionate about my job like I am about my art.
WTF!!!! I reserve the word "passionate" for three things in life: my art, italian food, and sex.....not W**K!

I am not sure what he is trying to pull here.....and quite frankly, I don't like these silly corporate games. There is a lot of downsizing that is going to happen this year in the company and I don't think I should have to share my job. Another big chunk of my job was taken away from me as well.....I don't understand since he gave me a good review regarding my work.

I don't like feeling unsure like this. One thing this conversation did solidify for me was that I am in the wrong frigging field and need to get out asap! Second, I thought he was a good guy.....now I don't trust him....and if I cannot trust someone, I cannot respect them at all.

Any advice?
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:52 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I understand -- according to your boss you are territorial about your job and want to handle responsibilities yourself, but at the same time, not passionate enough? Those seem contradictory in some way.

Anyway... Just on the face of it I'd guess that a boss who wants passion from you really wants you to work a lot harder for the same amount of money.

I had a boss once who expected all his reports to work late into the night and couldn't understand why those who made $30K a year (to his $200K) and who had families weren't still at their desks at 7:00 - 8:00 pm.

He didn't think we were passionate enough either. (We thought he was a horse's backside.)

But tell us more.

How likely is this downsizing to happen? (he could be paving the way for it, but not knowing him, that's just wild supposition.) Does he prefer the other assistant to you in any way?

How long have you been at the company and what would you be giving away to leave in terms of bennies, pension time, etc.?

How hard is it to get another job in your location / industry?

How close are you to FI?

How likely is it that this is an overreaction on your part? Do you get along well with him otherwise, or has there been friction in the past? Does he have a legitimate need to cross-train others to cover when you're on vacation, etc.?

Is it possible he's trying to make legitimate suggestions for your development? (I have seen people become indignant because their boss told them "you're doing fine" and DIDN'T take the time to counsel them on areas for improvement!)
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by citrine View Post
I had my year end review last week.....bascially, my boss is happy with my work and I am doing great. He then brought up two points which floored me:

1) I am too "territorial" with my job. (I am his Executive Assistant, and support him and another director. There is another Project Coordinator who is supposed to support a Director (vacant position), two Associate Directors, and a Manager. My boss gives her a few things to do and then forgets what and asks me if they are done. She has at times encroached upon my job functions and I had asked her one time if something had changed....he over heard that and brought that example into the review.)

2) He said that I am not passionate about my job like I am about my art.
WTF!!!! I reserve the word "passionate" for three things in life: my art, italian food, and sex.....not W**K!

I am not sure what he is trying to pull here.....and quite frankly, I don't like these silly corporate games. There is a lot of downsizing that is going to happen this year in the company and I don't think I should have to share my job. Another big chunk of my job was taken away from me as well.....I don't understand since he gave me a good review regarding my work.

I don't like feeling unsure like this. One thing this conversation did solidify for me was that I am in the wrong frigging field and need to get out asap! Second, I thought he was a good guy.....now I don't trust him....and if I cannot trust someone, I cannot respect them at all.

Any advice?
If you are unhappy, if you feel as though you might be on the downsize list, if you are unhappy and you feel as though you can not trust your boss then it is time for you to look for another job. Keep your present job and as soon as you find something that you like and can pay your bills I would say leave.

I would pursue your three passions which is your art, Italian food and sex. I read in one of your previous posts about wanting to be a famous artists. I would say go for it and be happy.

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Old 01-26-2008, 11:19 PM   #4
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Caroline:

Down sizing is under way....we have been told that our area will be safe.....but you know how that is. I have been working with him for over a year....and the other assistant joined our group last April....we have all got along really well so this is a bit of a surprise to me.
As for the passionate part....I already take my laptop home every weekend and try to do a few things. I am on call during vacation and have gone in to work at 11:30pm to make sure something got out on time before my vacation started.
I have also ran quite a few personal errands for him and have had quite a rapport with him. I get along with his wife and his family and am quite surprised at his comments.
I am all for the developmental aspect....but these two comments don't really deal with that in my opinion.
I have been with this company for 8 years permanent and 2 years temping. I would be giving up nice benefits, pension (if it is still around), and bonus.
It would not be hard to find a position in what I am doing....plus I can do quite a few other things as well....I have never been the type to worry about finding a job....I have always had one since I was 14. FI is about 15 years away so all the time I can log into a corporate thing works out for me in the end.
As for the cross-training....she already is and has been covering for me when I am out or on vacation. My boss will tell her to put on a high profile meeting.....then forget and ask me the status....I look at him blankly, he gets frustrated and I feel like I did slip and go to my desk and tear it apart. A day later, he figures out who he had asked, but he already spent time thinking that I was slipping in my performance. i don't think there is a need to have two people support one guy....especially when she has other people to take care of.

Thanks Wags.....I am diligently looking for jobs.....researching NC right now.....thinking about Greensboro, Ashville, and Winston-Salem.....let's see.

I love this board!
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:46 PM   #5
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Sometimes people make up stuff to fill in the blanks of a Perf. Review. Not exactly lies...just stretching the truth based on tiny observations or hearsay. I have had it happen to me more than once. More on this later.

The comment about being more passionate about your art than your job might have come from his view of how much you talk about your art around the workplace. Sometimes the little things get blow out of proportion. It might also be true that he senses your passion about your art and feels it is somehow making your job less important to you. Like it or not many bosses really think the j*b is more important than just about anything. Some corporations proudly say they are Family Oriented and that family comes first.....but when the chips are down and the boss needs you to work overtime forget all the family stuff.

From the sound of your eval. it was not all that bad. If this is only the second one from your current boss it might be that you are just now seeing how he works. The first one might have been too early in his job assimilation for you to see his true colors. Bosses that don't keep notes on your good and not so good performance during the whole year but wait until a day before it is due will tend to snatch the smallest pieces of information to use in the eval. Not fair but impossible to do much about.

I don't see this as a reason to jump ship quite yet. If I were you I might tone down the discussions at work of non-work related topics i.e., you art. The other thing you might consider is to keep your boss more informed of what you do rather than what the other person does. Your boss might then remember you as being positive about what you do rather than negative about the other person.
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:05 AM   #6
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I don't know enough about your situation to really give good advice... but of course I'll pretend.

One of the sucky things about being a managers is writing performance evaluations. Most megacorps have a pretty standard format for reviews.
Good stuff
Not so good stuff
stuff that you should do better next year.

Even if there really isn't anything about your work that he didn't like he has to fill out
the Not so good stuff section or get in trouble with his boss and/or HR.

I believe you are far more likely to find a unicorn in an office environment than an office without territorial issues. The reality is many many people get way too hung up on protecting their turf than just trying to do the right thing for the company. Odds are there is some truth to what he is saying but it is true for pretty much anybody.

One concrete suggestion I do have for you since are bothered by the review. Trying writing the "areas for improvement" for yourself i.e. if put yourself in your bosses shoes and write that portion of your review. I always could come up with fair worse things to say about my own work than my bosses.
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Old 01-27-2008, 06:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
Most megacorps have a pretty standard format for reviews.
Good stuff
Not so good stuff
stuff that you should do better next year.

Even if there really isn't anything about your work that he didn't like he has to fill out
the Not so good stuff section or get in trouble with his boss and/or HR.
Exactly. One way to take the negative emotions from the review process is to make
the process automatic each year. Whatever is in the non-positive section, put down
"I will improve on my ..... skills next year" in the response section, no matter how
bogus. Do not take it personally or seriously. The bosses will like it, and then you
can ignore it for another year. I got dinged with 'not a team player' comments most
of my 27 year programming career, usually with above average raises.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:19 AM   #8
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He'll forget what he said in a month. Ignore it, do your job, and don't dignify his fluff by getting stuck to it.

What are you working on these days? Got more pics of your stunning work?
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:35 AM   #9
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He'll forget what he said in a month. Ignore it, do your job, and don't dignify his fluff by getting stuck to it.

What are you working on these days? Got more pics of your stunning work?
I agree with Rich in Tampa. It's sounds as though the review was positive overall and he just came up with some "fluff" to fill out the eval. Even though your job isn't perfect, none are. I left a job I didn't like once and the next one was ever worse. Hang in there and see how thinks shake out. If you still feel negative about the situation in a few months you can always start looking around. Also, it never hurts to keep up contacts in your industry and be aware of possible opportunities elsewhere in case things do take a turn for the worse.

BTW, I'd like to see some our your art too!
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:36 AM   #10
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This is a management style known as "Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted".

Your boss is thinking to himself: "If I say everything is great, Citrine might get too comfortable in her job and I won't be squeezing every last ounce of effort out of her. I'll come up with a couple of things to rattle her cage a bit."

I agree with Rich - forget it and just do your job.
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:08 AM   #11
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Keep looking for other pastures that meet your requirements!
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:19 AM   #12
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This is a management style known as "Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted".

Your boss is thinking to himself: "If I say everything is great, Citrine might get too comfortable in her job and I won't be squeezing every last ounce of effort out of her. I'll come up with a couple of things to rattle her cage a bit."

I agree with Rich - forget it and just do your job.
Nice to see some former managers explain this....Op, I had a new manager that got promoted into our section do this...In her case, it was more about not knowing our program and way of getting some control...I think it is really dumb since it mainly brings out bad feelings...
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:41 AM   #13
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Sometimes people make up stuff to fill in the blanks of a Perf. Review. Not exactly lies...just stretching the truth based on tiny observations or hearsay. I have had it happen to me more than once.
Had it happen to me, too. In fact, this was a new manager (new position, plus first time he was managing people) who pointed out some things about me that really weren't true and also made a point about me being too rigid about rules (he wanted me to break the rules, and I refused...). He later came back to me and apologized for my review, saying he was new at it, and "It's really tough to do"...but never offered to change my review. I was pretty steamed about it all at the time and never trusted him since. However, I just kept doing my job and kept my distance from him. Thankfully I didn't have to deal with him much as he was an off-site supervisor.
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
One of the sucky things about being a managers is writing performance evaluations. Most megacorps have a pretty standard format for reviews.
Good stuff
Not so good stuff
stuff that you should do better next year.

Even if there really isn't anything about your work that he didn't like he has to fill out
the Not so good stuff section or get in trouble with his boss and/or HR.

This is so true. I can't tell you how much time I sit at my computer trying to fill in the "not so good stuff" for 75% of my staff. But that section must be filled in.

25% - sure, there are things they need to work on. The other 75% are great employees. But Megacorp says 'everyone can improve and do better'. Ugh. So, I sit at my computer thinking "Hmmmm......what can I put here that won't sound too bad or make XXXX upset". It's stupid - but has to be done every year. I see the same type of lame things in my review also. I smile and say "yes, I need to work on that..."

The first one is funny and if that was the best he could come up with (you're territorial) - then you should be laughing.

But - I would want to know exactly why he didn't think you were passionate about your job. I would ask him exactly what you were or weren't doing to make him say that. He should be evaluating your performance/behavior, not your personality or his interpretation of your personality. Saying you aren't "passionate" is inappropriate for a performance review, imho. He should be saying exactly what you did or didn't do that he wants you to change. I would be asking him exactly what behavior translates into "passionate". And then asking myself if that was my job or not. If yes, then do it. If no - then find a new job.

My guess - he will have a hard time defining what you did/didn't do. And then you won't see that type of comment again in your review. He will move it to someone else's.
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:57 AM   #15
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In my profession, managers have code words and phrases.

"Knowledge base continues to grow since last evaluation"
Still has work to do, below expectations.

"Research goals are becoming more focused."
Still hasn't gotten her act together, get the lead out.

"Clinical competence is not in question."
Mediocre

"Interpersonal skills have been put to the test in several challenging situations, and clearly has shown improvement since last evaluation."
Continues to create trouble and foot still in mouth.

Any of these can open the door to constructive 1-on-1 verbal coaching without torpedoing someone's career. Human nature being what it is, the employee can interpret them as he or she sees fit. Another manager will get the drift. The point is improving job performance, not skewering someone.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:09 AM   #16
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As for the cross-training....she already is and has been covering for me when I am out or on vacation. My boss will tell her to put on a high profile meeting.....then forget and ask me the status....I look at him blankly, he gets frustrated and I feel like I did slip and go to my desk and tear it apart. A day later, he figures out who he had asked, but he already spent time thinking that I was slipping in my performance. i don't think there is a need to have two people support one guy....especially when she has other people to take care of.
Bosses do this to inspire their staffs to communicate & coordinate with each other... you end up making sure you know about each other's projects just in self defense.

It's probably better to share the info privately between yourselves instead of where the boss can see it. He might be tempted to "update" your status board, but he doesn't have to know about shared calendars or e-mails or other trackers between you.

I was generally happiest in my work when I was at my most blissful ignorance of the competence in upper-level management. Once I saw how local submarine operations were run... once I became familiar with how an admiral's office worked... once I learned how the military ran its training-command HQ... the cynicism scars ran all the way to the bone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
In my profession, managers have code words and phrases.
"Flawlessly safeguarded and accounted for all classified material under his control"
Didn't lose the one piece we let him handle, and that's because he had no other responsibilities or accomplishments to list in the vast white space of this comments section. At least until we finish the investigation and hold the Captain's Mast.

One military urban legend, especially among today's PC and hyperinflated hyperbole, is the British Navy's performance-reporting system. Even if these comments don't really exist, they should. Every few years an e-mail floats around with scathingly frank assessments of officer performance... or lack thereof. My favorite is "My supply officer views my ship as his personal recreational vehicle for hauling his alcoholic thirst and his genitals from one liberty port to the next".
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Old 01-27-2008, 12:34 PM   #17
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25% - sure, there are things they need to work on. The other 75% are great employees. But Megacorp says 'everyone can improve and do better'. Ugh. So, I sit at my computer thinking "Hmmmm......what can I put here that won't sound too bad or make XXXX upset". It's stupid - but has to be done every year. I see the same type of lame things in my review also. I smile and say "yes, I need to work on that..."
Been in that situation myself. I have to say it's difficult to get it just right and appropriate for each person each time. I DO actually want to help people address any issues and grow their careers, but I also have to be wary because these reviews create a paper trail. It's not just new managers that can mess this part up. I've also seen new VPs (supposedly experienced managers) want to make a name for themselves or impress their bosses read through old performance reviews and make a cut list of problem employees without knowing the people or talking to the actual managers.

My first real job out of college was in a supremely dysfunctional organization, so I learned to always be careful of this stuff. But I've known managers (peers) who lost good people or quit themselves in desperation when the chuckleheads got into the reviews and started making bad decisions. I can put a suitable comment in a review that will likely survive future public scrutiny and then communicate privately whatever needs to be said.

I've also learned this ism't only a problem in broken organizations. I worked two years in the best, well managed company I've ever heard of. It was heaven on earth and I enjoyed every minute there. Then a new CEO came in, dumped two layers of management and started filling them with folks he picked from outside. They started this "review the old reviews" stuff to get to know their staff, and any manager who was lulled into dropping their guard and writing real criticism in the reviews during the good years lost those people and several of the managers were put on cut lists themselves becuase they must be bad managers to put up with such bad performance in their groups.
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:15 PM   #18
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Did you ask for or did he volunteer examples of what he was talking about? It should be quite easy for him to provide examples of territorial behavior and how it negatively affects the organization and how a diminishment of that behavior will help the organization.

And if both things he said are absolutely true, so what? I wish those were the worst things said about me in a review! I must admit that over the years I have not paid a whole lot of attention to reviews as I did the job with integrity and honesty the way I thought was best for the company and the associates. If there was no meeting of the minds, it was time for me to go do something else. Just because someone has power over me doesn't mean they know better than I how to do the job for the long term benefit of all. The boss has the right to say "my way or the highway" but I have the right to hit the highway.
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:06 AM   #19
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I had found that I got myself into bad or stressful situations when I did not have good communications with my colleagues or upper management.

Good communications meaning an open dialog, where there is trust on both sides. I have never been pollyanna-ish and believe that I can be good friends with everyone I have dealt with, but I can certainly try and foster an environment (at least between myself and the individual) of openness and adult dialog. One does have to have a bit of thick skin and not take things personally and sometimes get annoyed or even angry. And it does take a bit of tact to discuss 'differences' without getting emotional.

Only you can assess your current situation, but one way of approaching this is to schedule some time with your manager for a 'career advice' discussion. Thank him for his candor and feedback on your last review and then ask specifically what types of steps he would take if he were you. You can also ask for clarification, where you did not understand any items. Whatever you do, Do NOT Get Defensive. Then thank him for his time and either do those things or don't depending upon your take of the discussion.
I would evaluate it simply as 'credible' or 'not credible'. Did what he said make sense? Or is he blowing smoke up your *ss?

This either puts you in a good position within the organization (start to develop a dialog and trust) or you know where you stand... i.e. your manager is not 'trustworthy'. In which case, you might want to start shopping for another job.

In any case, at least in big Megacorp America, your immediate supervisor, manager can make or break you (like it or not, it's a fact of life). The good ones can and will help you, if you help yourself, as well as them.
Open communications and trust building is how you get there.

As a manager, I always tried to foster open communications with my team. I always knew someone was 'in trouble' when they avoided me for whatever reason and would approach that person and re-open the dialog.

Best of luck to you. I hope this helps.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:14 AM   #20
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Edward Deming (father of TQM - total quality management) called performance appraisals one of the "seven deadly sins" of management. He was right about that. Not one in a hundred managers can give an effective appraisal so why ask them to do it? As evident from your experience, most employees are stressed out by them even if they get a good review.

Like others have said, your boss may think you are great but believe he needs to find "areas for improvement" so he swings at whatever comes to mind. Forget about it. Or tell him you are loosing sleep worrying about what you need to do to improve after receiving such a devastating review - get a little payback by making him loose some sleep
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