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To ask my manager why he gave me a poor review when he has complemented me to my face?

(30 Posts)
DrSeuss Sun 22-Nov-15 16:32:38

I had my review with HR the other day. I am three months into a six month period of probation in a new job which I enjoy and need to keep us afloat financially. I was reasonably confident that my manager would speak well of me. He has never found fault with my work, I have taken on a lot of extra projects which go beyond what I am paid to do and the day before, he had said that he always feels pleased to see my name on the list of participants in a project as he knows I know what I'm doing!

However, he stated to HR that he finds my work inadequate. If he says the same three months from now, I have failed my probation and may be fired.

I fought back my initial instinct which was to cry, (did that with a trusted colleague present. She was horrified and disgusted by what I told her.), then find him and call him a cockwomble wank badger! I spent the next two days finding stuff to work on that kept me as far away from him as possible. I could not bear to be near him and his friendly manner just seemed smarmy and two faced.

So, should I confront him? The problem is that he is best friends with the CEO. If I say my piece, even politely now that I feel calmer, will I just make it worse?

CrohnicallyAspie Sun 22-Nov-15 16:36:20

I would go and ask for more detailed feedback- what exactly is inadequate and why wasn't it raised at the time

IwishIwasinNewYork Sun 22-Nov-15 16:36:40

You will have a lot of responses saying this is outrageous and he has acted wrongly and unprofessionally.

But what I'll say, rightly or wrongly, is that I have done similar to your boss - because it can take right up to that three month mark till you really get a handle on an employee.

So I've said encouraging and positive things only to realise just before end of review period that things are not going as well as I'd thought, or that promising work failed to actual make the grade.

I'm sorry you feel so down about it, I would do.

Concentrate on what you're being told and what you can improve, not on how your boss has acted (presuming that he's not unprofessional or unfair in other ways).

Lizawithaz Sun 22-Nov-15 16:37:39

Did ypu tell hR that he'd given you positive feedback and that you dont understand why he's now criticising you?

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 22-Nov-15 16:40:31

Separate the emotions from the facts. The fact is that you were given feedback about your performance which didn't match the evaluation he gave you. That is poor management. You can raise that.

"I was surprised to receive negative feedback at my review when all the feedback you have given me has been positive. I'm concerned that this affects my ability to improve my performance. Could we work on relevant day-to-day feedback?" Or something...

DrSeuss Sun 22-Nov-15 16:41:42

I didn't say much, to be honest. I was so shocked. Especially as he had filled the review in a good week before then saying it was good that I was working on a project! If he has really reached the decision that I am not good enough and said so in writing, why say that to my face?

ValiantMouse Sun 22-Nov-15 16:41:46

There's nothing wrong with asking for more detailed feedback.

neolara Sun 22-Nov-15 16:44:39

I'd want to find out exactly what I needed to do differently. It's not at all useful to know your work isn't considered up to scratch if you have no idea how it needs to be done better. For that reason alone, you have to talk to your boss.

IwishIwasinNewYork Sun 22-Nov-15 16:45:22

Agree, nothing wrong with asking for more feedback and saying you were under the impression things were going well, going from his comments.

Just remain calm and factual and listen to what he says.

WeAllHaveWings Sun 22-Nov-15 16:52:44

An poor appraisal/review should never be a surprise, if it is your manager is more than inadequate.

Definitely go back and explain you were very surprised as all feedback until now has been positive and you openly welcome any feedback which will help you develop. Tell him you don't want to go into any further reviews and be shocked. Keep a note of all feedback positive and negative and how you've built on it.

DrSeuss Sun 22-Nov-15 16:53:21

Thank you, I will try. To be honest, at the moment, I wonder if this is even the right place for me to be. I can't abide people who are nice to your face but bitch behind your back. I don't want to spend the next few years wondering what else he says about me to others.

IwishIwasinNewYork Sun 22-Nov-15 16:56:36

Ok but you're taking it very personally. Try not to see it as 'bitching behind your back'.

Try to just hear what is being said to you and what you can do to improve it.

You really don't know what his motivation was seemingly giving you the 'wrong' feedback.

As I said above, it could be he was trying to encourage you e.g. 'glad you are participating in meetings' or that he was just concentrating on the positive parts of your performance.

Again, sorry you are feeling shit about it. It's understandable

holeinmyheart Sun 22-Nov-15 16:58:16

He is a coward and a bad manager BUT he is your boss. So swallow your hurt and go to him with a rehearsed script. Do not cry or complain.
Write down what to say!
It should go something like this.
( dear slimy two faced boss, obviously don't say this bit)

I have seen your appraisal and I and would really like to improve my performance. Could you possibly give me some ideas as to how this can be done? As I really like working here.

Please stop sulking and keeping away from him, as you will make it easier for him to get rid of you.
So tomorrow, all smiles, act naturally, be breezy and enthusiastic. I hope he can articulate and then you have to listen carefully and not get upset. Don't argue with him.

Buy a doll and stick pins in it, but at work behave professionally.

RatherBeRiding Sun 22-Nov-15 17:12:44

Jeeez but I hate these kind of work situations. I left my last job because of it but I learned a lot about how to handle this kind of thing.

The key word is "objective". He has said your work is inadequate. That is totally subjective and totally unhelpful.

What aspects - in exact detail and clear and unambiguous language - are inadequate. You need a factual and objective response so that you know what you need to improve. What aspects are adequate, and why are they adequate, i.e. what are you doing right and what are you doing wrong.

For example, in pretty simplistic terms, where I work the phone is supposed to be answered within 30 seconds. If say, no-one was picking up the phone within 30 seconds without a good reason (I was in the toilet, your Honour) then that's a very clear reason why you might be criticised. But simply saying your work "isn't good enough" without going into that kind of objective detail is poor management.

Be totally professional in your response and try not to take it personally.

DrSeuss Sun 22-Nov-15 17:13:11

Thank you all for your good advice. I shall give it a lot of thought tonight. As to taking it personally, this job was meant to be a clean start following having to leave the last job due to stress related depression! I am much better now but have to be careful to avoid triggers, which is why I avoided my boss initially.

MudCity Sun 22-Nov-15 17:14:12

I think you should raise with your boss that you were surprised at your appraisal as, until now, you had only received positive feedback from him about your performance and you had no idea he thought your performance was inadequate. Ask him nicely to be specific about areas for improvement and put an action plan in place so you can demonstrate at your next review that you have addressed them.

There is no getting away from the fact that this is poor management.

Keep records of things he says, what he does and your response. Take someone with you to your next review. Be nice, professional and positive (even though it hurts!)

Show that you are listening and responding to his feedback.

However, like you, I'm not sure I would fully trust him again and I would be looking for new opportunities. Transparency is vital in working relationships and it is not fair on you to have been misled into thinking all is well if it is not.

I really feel for you and send you huge, bucketfuls of luck!

howtorebuild Sun 22-Nov-15 17:18:29

I agree, either he is a coward or maybe he is one of those people who live in fantasy land day to day, they call themselves optimistic and encouraging, so when he gets into reality mode in a written review, you are left perplexed by his words.

ZoeTurtle Sun 22-Nov-15 17:24:44

Surely HR agreed some targets with you at the review? You don't just tell someone their work is inadequate and leave it at that.

Lucyccfc Sun 22-Nov-15 17:29:12

What a crap Manager. He should be doing your appraisal, not HR.

It should be based on the joint objectives you both set when you started the job and the review should be specifically about your performance against those objectives.

Make a time to meet with him and go along with your objectives and saynthatbyoumare concerned about the feedback from your appraisal and you wanted to go through each objective and talk through what is going well and what you could do to improve.

To be honest, with a Manager who is that poor, I would be looking for another job.

DrSeuss Sun 22-Nov-15 17:29:47

They said I needed to meet with another member of staff, observe their work and go from there.

slightlyglitterpaned Sun 22-Nov-15 19:43:29

That's essentially still leaving it up to you to decide what aspects of your work need improvement - so no feedback there. Do they mean for you to then have another member of staff observing you, to offer feedback?

Can you ask for one specific thing to work on each week, to start with? (Possibly three depending on your work & how variable it is? I.e. if you pick one, it might not come up during the week).

Mistigri Sun 22-Nov-15 20:53:34

I agree with the others - you need written targets, and more transparency about what exactly it is that you're not achieving.

This is very poor management and HR practice, so you might be better off looking for another job if you can.

pissinginthewind Sun 22-Nov-15 22:07:02

I agree with everything MudCity said.

blueshoes Sun 22-Nov-15 22:56:59

Any manager who is doing their job would want you to improve if they say your work in inadequate. Therefore, they should welcome if you ask for feedback, that is assuming they are a good manager. If he avoids giving specific feedback at your request, you know that he is a shit manager and a two-faced one at that and you are better off knowing it is a lucky escape.

Hope you resolve this.

DrSeuss Mon 23-Nov-15 19:06:27

I have yet to follow any of your advice as there just wasn't a minute to spare till late this afternoon, at which point, the boss was in a meeting. But I plan to, thanks.

I feel a bit better after a conversation with a very young employee today. He asked if I knew he was gay and was thrilled by my oh yeah, you and ten per cent of the population, so what, reaction! He told me that I'd reacted much better than his mum, which is sad, but told me I was great and that he loved me!

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