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Poor performance review - what do I do?

(22 Posts)
dolcegusto Thu 25-Nov-10 21:06:13

I had my 6 month review today and it did not go well.

I'm employed as an office manager in a small office, there's only 8 people and 2 are the directors.

I thought I was doing well, but they basically ripped me to shreds to the point that I don't want to go in tomorrow.

The 2 directors did the review and the main points were that I need to manage them and treat the business like it's my own, whilst still running decisions by them confused There were loads of other bits they clearly dislike about me, my predecessor was very loud and bubbly; I'm quiet and reserved and I got the impression they want someone more like her.

I didn't really say much in the meeting as it took a while for it all to sink in, but obviously I'm not thrilled about going in tomorrow. I don't know whether I should ask to speak to them again and tell them what I think, and what to say anyway?

dolcegusto Thu 25-Nov-10 21:14:01

They also said they want 'more of me', but I'm the director of another company where I work 2 days, have a dh and 2 dds, all things they knew when they took me on.

AllarmBelly Thu 25-Nov-10 21:21:28

Sorry to hear it dolcegusto (we've got one of those in the office!)

Personally if I was feeling so bad that I didn't want to go in, I would go and ask for an extra meeting. What do you have to lose? It might help you clear things up in your head, even if they don't say anything different.

If they are asking you to do something that can't work, like take all the decisions while also referring everything to them, I think you should tell them you've thought about it and you need to discuss further how it would work.

Hope this doesn't sound daft but are you sure it was a "bad" review? Did they give you a numerical grading or "does not meet expectations" or anything like that? Could it be that they are just plain-speaking and critical and expected you to take the feedback in your stride (for example if the previous manager was more robust)?

Whatever you've done right or wrong, if the bad review was a complete surprise, they haven't done right, because they should have made it clear to you as things went along that they weren't happy.

Good luck with it, hope you get it sorted.

AllarmBelly Thu 25-Nov-10 21:22:02

Sorry, x-post.
If they want more of you, you can't be doing everything badly.

magicmummy1 Thu 25-Nov-10 22:40:59

My policy with performance reviews is that nothing should ever come as a surprise - if there are problems, then they need to be addressed asap and not saved up for the annual appraisal or whatever. It sounds like you weren't expecting the feedback that you got, and that isn't fair.

I think you need to get clarification from them as to whether they're happy with your overall performance or not, as they seem to be giving you some very mixed messages. Have they given you some clear expectations of how they want you to improve, and can you meet these?

nameymcnamechange Thu 25-Nov-10 22:43:22

Do you really like and need the job?

If not, I'd be inclined to tell them to shove it ...

dolcegusto Thu 25-Nov-10 23:27:49

I do really like the job, well I did until today, and I need the money, but I think I will start looking for another job. I'm clearly not what they want, and I can't suddenly change my whole personality to suit them.

The thing I really liked is that they said they could be flexible with hours to fit in with childcare, but they keep saying they want me in on a day I don't work and have no childcare for, I keep explaining that it's not easy to change cm/preschool days but they mention it every couple of weeks so I guess they're not really that flexible.

I think I need to speak to them tomorrow about it, but how do I phrase it without sounding like I'm whining? And without crying? (I always seem to cry when I'm in an uncomfortable situation, very embarrassing especially when actually I'm really angry and I end up a blubbering wreck and don't get my point across)

AllarmBelly Thu 25-Nov-10 23:37:47

IMO the best way to not cry is to decide what you want to say and then practice, so hopefully the emotion will have gone out of it when you come to say it.

I think you should concentrate on what they have said to you that you can do something about, ie the making decisions part. Re them "not liking parts of your personality", I would leave that out unless they said something specific that you want to respond to.

Re the different day, are they asking you to change days permanently, or come in an additional day, or come in a different day every few weeks? Could you make them an offer eg, "If you really want me to come in on Wednesday, I could drop Friday and come in Wednesday, it would take me a month to change my childcare over so I can start that in January" for example. If you totally can't do it because of childcare and your other commitments, then say so.

nameymcnamechange Thu 25-Nov-10 23:43:59

Yes, definitely be absolutely certain about what you want to say and practice saying it infront of the mirror. Promise yourself that you will not get angry and you will not cry. You can do it.

frgr Thu 25-Nov-10 23:59:20

Don't have anything extra to add to the excellent advice, BUT i'm also someone that cries very very easily, another trick that I've found helps (at least for me!) apart from the pracising (and preparation for what their responses might be - practice your replies to the sensible responses they'll have).... digging your fingernails into your hands (not in an obvious way grin) if you feel yourself welling up can "snap" you out of it and give you that slight distraction. Also consider taking in a notepad and pen, and a glass of water. I find that I'm more in control when I have things to fiddle with with my hands (rather than sit in a chair facing someone in a horrible conversation).

Good luck

frgr Fri 26-Nov-10 00:00:04

sorry that should have been "Don't have anything extra to add to the excellent general work advice" - only had that one thing to add re: avoiding tearing up!

dolcegusto Fri 26-Nov-10 19:45:30

Thanks for all your great advice.

I spoke to my manager today and said I wasn't happy about the review, we had a chat about it, and it's pretty much sorted. He apologised for being so harsh, and admitted asking me to change my personality was out of order.

There are still a few things bugging me, but we're gonna have a weekly meeting to raise any issues so it should be sorted. Might just keep my eye out for a new job, just see what comes up.

But I didn't cry!! I dug my nails into my hand when I got all emotional, and it really worked.

myboysarethebest Fri 26-Nov-10 19:56:45

well done - what a good result. Weekly meetings sound like a good idea.

Islandsinthestream Fri 26-Nov-10 20:24:15

I had similar once, I was absolutely gutted but I read up on "bad performance reviews" on google and most of the advice said no matter how annoyed or upset you were that you should not show it as those that gave you a bad review essentially have large control of whether you have a job there or not.

The advice said to go in and thank them genuinely for their feedback, say it isn't always easy to hear less than positive things about your performance, but you are glad it has been raised so now you can do something about it, you are committed to your role and to performing your very best and you are happy to work with them closely to achieve that. Blah blah.

I did go in and say the above, I had to try to look genuine because I really wanted to karate chop my manager to the floor and tell them to stuff their stoopid job, but I got the words out.

To my surprise they visibly relaxed and said they were pleased that I had such a mature attitude and they would definitely welcome the opportunity to channel my skills in the right direction. Blah.

It did end up win-win as TBH it sharpened me up and I performed a lot better after, the means justified the ends but I HATED my manager for a good month after and found myself thinking of the harsh review and saying "F*cking ARSES!" etc out loud blush because around 20% was good, constructive, work-based critism and the rest was just assassination and taking out temper on a subordinate.

Islandsinthestream Fri 26-Nov-10 20:28:46

Oh and during the review, I also did the digging nails in hand so as not to cry thing, because I was at one point a hair away from blubbing my socks off. My manager would have totally looked on me with disdain and probably got some satisfaction from it, so I was determined not to crack even though my nose was prickling and I had a lump in my throat. All I have to do is picture losing my job and my toddler starving (I have a vivid imagination!) and I would be bawling.

I didn't cry, but my palm had marks in it for days after smile

AllarmBelly Sat 27-Nov-10 11:07:25

Well done dolcegusto great result. And well done islands, it isn't easy.

I cried in a PR once, I had been covering a new area for 3 months and the promised support never happened, and I didn't do a good job (not solely due to lack of support if I'm honest).

The manager wanted to give me a bad grade, but “graciously” agreed to put a note in the appraisal saying the bad grade only covered the last 3 months. My pov was that I’d performed well for 9 months, so I should get a good grade, with (if you must) a note in the appraisal saying I hadn’t performed well for the last 3 months. (My reasoning was I didn’t think it was fair for the last 3 months to be seen as more important, especially when he’d admitted that I hadn’t had any support, and also IF they put all the appraisal results in a spreadsheet to see who to make redundant, they will look at the grade not the note).

I was trying to explain myself and got tearful out of frustration (the boss had been a nightmare ever since joining and this felt like the culmination of a lot of things). He was very nice about it but it felt as though he’d completely relaxed after that. Once I had cried he completely stopped taking me seriously. He said he would discuss with HR and get back to me but he never did. (I did get it sorted in the end, I said I would do a grievance and he backed down.)

It is so not like me to cry at work, I didn't cry when I was made redundant and I have said ever since "if you still have a job, it could be worse". Work isn't the place to cry. It gives a bad impression of your self-control, and people then feel they can't be honest with you because you'll burst into tears and hide in the toilets. I always thought it was a bad idea in general but I was surprised to see the specific bad effect of it the ONE time I did it!

This book has been recommended on here before but it is so fantastic on all this stuff

Strategies For Women At Work

Islandsinthestream Sat 27-Nov-10 19:00:05

Ooh, thanks for the recommendation Allarm. I haven't heard of that before but it looks good. I work in a male dominated professional environment and so any extra strategies are always good.

I do think with reviews that because I managed to keep cool and reacted (on the surface and to their faces at least) graciously, they were a lot warmer with me afterwards and in fact have been very keen to compliment me quite frequently on things I've achieved.

How annoying about your review, I completely understand where you were coming from and I think it would be unfair to taint the whole 12 month period with a 3 month less than sparkling performance. Grades are important as they're the bottom line for comparison. I hate crying at work too and I'm so pleased I didn't do it in my review although what an effort it was to hold it in. My manager is always looking at body language too, so I had to make sure I was sat in a relaxed yet alert posture at all times during the review, no fiddling, no crossing arms/legs, maintaining friendly and attentive yet not psychotic eye contact etc... Sooo irritating!!!

tallwivglasses Sat 27-Nov-10 20:03:30

Why, after 5 decades on this planet have I not heard of the digging-nails-into-hand technique? That would have been useful a few years ago...

Well done for resolving this, OP smile

Oh, and you sound dead nice. Forget the digs at your personality. 'Loud and bubbly' would get right on my nerves!

frgr Sat 27-Nov-10 22:23:42

Why, after 5 decades on this planet have I not heard of the digging-nails-into-hand technique? That would have been useful a few years ago...


another one is biting the inside of your cheek

not enough to draw blood, obviously, or make you look weird (imagine your boss thinking you're pulling funny faces or laughing at him!).... but just enough that it snaps your attention away from the welling up.

it was my youngest sister that told me this trick, by the way, not something i'd thought of myself. she works in a trade and was having a rough time at work (just after qualifying), and was getting all sorts of hassle from her supervisor, but knew that if she cried at work it would just confirm her as "weak" and she'd be picked on even more. so, she shared the advice with me when i was having redundancy talks at work (pretty upsetting but nowhere near as stressful as your performance review sounded)

AllarmBelly Sun 28-Nov-10 15:02:41

Lol at the “funny faces” frgr! I guess the distraction is the key thing, once you are feeling got at the tears will start flowing.

Islands re appraisal grades – exactly. The appraisal grade was the key thing – who in the world is ever going to read some sort of “note” that isn’t part of the main form? The fact that he even suggested the note made me think, he knows this isn’t really fair. I think he also wanted me to understand that performance had to improve, sure fair enough, but I don’t need an unfair appraisal to get that across.

That sounds really hard work, a boss who looks at body language, so if they have a down on you they can get you for anything “yes we had a constructive discussion, however your body language was negative!” I think you've done really well to turn it round as they clearly trust and value you much more now.

Dolce hope things get better at work for you now.

Menagerie Wed 01-Dec-10 17:07:12

Can't believe what I'm reading here. you shouldn't have to be swapping ideas on how to cause yourselves pain to take your minds off crying at bad reviews. If the managers were any good at their jobs they'd be offering constructive criticism so you went away motivated to improve, if improvement is needed. I'm horrified they can bully like this.

Islandsinthestream Wed 01-Dec-10 19:57:40

Interesting point Menagerie. My manager didn't give a single hint that she was unhappy with my performance at any point leading up to the review, so I was actually looking forward to it hmm. I thought it would be "here's what you did right, here's where you could improve, what do you think, overall, good".

Her strategy really was to dump on my from a great height for maximum impact. She totally stripped me down for 3 hours without a break and left me feeling like a worthless piece of sh*t. I seriously didn't want to go in the following day, I felt so broken (I did go in, obviously, because it would have been unprofessional not to).

Everyone (and I mean everyone) who knows her at work is aware of her fearful reputation, she's respected in the business for her knowledge but widely disliked for her inability to get on with people, but even so it's awful to be taken apart like that. The thing is even she agreed on the performance scale of 1-5, 1 being rubbish, 5 being fantastic, I was a 3-4 and should ideally be looking to be a 4-5, so obviously as a 3-4(as I knew myself) I wasn't seriously underperforming or in need of real discipline. She just wanted to take me apart that day and she did sad

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