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It is my performance evaluation. In the evaluation the management is trying to put my rating and rate low by making me solely responsible for some of the the results which don't meet management expectations. I know the points and the reasons that management shows are not correct and I am unable to agree with them. They prolonged the meeting and are applying different tactics to conclude those points. Those points are not agreeable to me in any way.

They are referring to facts and symptoms of negative results of which I am not totally aware. While I am defending my self with my opinions and what I thought, they are saying that those are my own perceptions and they are not responsible for my perceptions. The meeting ended with their conclusion and not my agreement.

Now how can I convey to the management politely and professionally that I disagree with those points and reasons without much damage and how can I record that communication for future reference? What further actions could I take? I know that they are not going to agree with me even if I go to higher management or anybody else in the organization.

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What country are you in? –  enderland Nov 27 '12 at 16:41
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Are you in a position where the outcome of the results being less than par ARE your responsibility? Are you in a lead/management/project management role where, regardless of your opinion you're the one that's going to take responsibility of this? –  cloyd800 Nov 27 '12 at 19:04

9 Answers 9

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Whether you agree with it or not when your manager says that he feels your performance is not good enough, it is NOT good enough. His perception of your performance is the most important thing.

So if you disagree what can you do? First ask for suggestions of how to fix the perceived problem and then implement those suggestions. If you genuinely try what he wants you to try, you will be in a better position to win your side of the discussion in the future. It cannot be won at the time where it has already come to a poor performance review. You must attempt to fix what ever he tells you is wrong, genuinely attempt to fix it whether you agree or not. If not, you are on the fast track to getting fired.

Until the person respects your opinion, you cannot win a disagreement over performance or over technical direction. So you do as you are asked to do, you show the person a willingness to listen and to change and then once you have shown a good attitude and a willingness to change, only then can you have a useful conversation about your disagreement.

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Here's the thing: that's not how performance reviews are supposed to go. They should be an opportunity for you to raise issues you might be facing, in the context of how that affects your performance. Any issue they have with you should have been raised before (first thing I was taught in management training for appraisals: No surprises).

The appraisal form itself shouldn't be worth the paper its written on. It's supposed to be a start-point for discussion and that's all.

I'm going to guess that if you (and they) care at all about the details on the form then they're also making the second classic mistake with appraisals: tying it directly to some kind of financial benefit.

Frankly, if that's the case, there is very little you can do to convince them that you're right. There is little-to-no benefit to you in fighting a management who doesn't believe that your perception is their responsibility (of course that's their responsibility -- it's pretty much their number one responsibility).

Forget the piece of paper, just consider the consequences in isolation. If you think you're being hard-done-by then you probably should look for another job where you won't be. If you don't think you could do better elsewhere then ask yourself why you should do better there.

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+1 for no surprises: your managers should be communicating with you regularly about your performance (e.g. face to face meetings every week) and letting you know if they are not happy with it at those meetings and then assigning actions for you to resolve any issues. –  ssbrewster Nov 27 '12 at 18:07

There's a phrase that "all failings in a company are management failings" - while I have heard this argued both ways, it does provide a platform for addressing situations where you feel you have had an unfair performance evaluation.

One common "management fail point" is to only provide feedback to employees during the annual performance evaluation meeting; or even worse to save up the points they want to make over the course of the year for the annual appraisal.

This creates an "ambush" situation for the employee at the appraisal - which is essentially what you seem to be describing - where they are suddenly given significant and unexpected negative feedback and are drawn into responding defensively; a long, sometimes heated and almost always inconclusive discussion is usually the result.

The bottom line here is that if, as your line manager, they thought you were doing a poor job, why did they allow you to continue and not raise this with you at the time when the issue arose? Performance management of employees should be a continuous process, not an annual event.

So - in this situation, rather than immediately going on the defensive, you can:

  • acknowledge what they have said : "I see, so you are saying that in this situation you felt AAA"; you are not agreeing with them, but you are reflecting their comments back and showing you have heard them, and understood.

  • ask them why they did not immediately raise this as an issue : "I'm shocked and surprised to hear you see things this way. Why did you not raise this at the time so that I could have addressed it?" You are still not agreeing with them, and are highlighting a course of action that is usually more effective in performance management.

  • ask them what you should have done instead : "So you think I handled this badly; what would you have advised me to do?"

  • reflect that back and focus on the timing issue : "Ah, so when I did XXX you would have preferred me to do YYY. That's good advice, but I really wish you had told me at the time so this situation could have been avoided, or resolved earlier."

  • wrap up : "To me, this highlights how important it is to have regular feedback on how I am performing, along with advice on how I could do better. I think this situation could have been avoided if you had raised this issues with me much earlier."

You can, of course, still employ this approach (point by point, if needed) by calling a meeting with your line manager - or HR, or their manager - to raise these issues.

While this is a good "meeting ambush response" technique, it won't fix your relationship with your immediate line manager, however.

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One obvious problem is:

  • They are referring to facts ...

  • While I am defending my self with my opinions ...

See the problem? You're fighting facts with opinions.

Try defending yourself with facts. If those fail, try corroborated, backed-up facts.

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Different corporate processes work differently. I have seen some corporate performance review software where the employee is actually asked to review the written feedback (which should parellel the discussion) and to Agree or Disagree with it. Either way, the important part is that the employee does review it.

If that's not an option where you work, the next best would be something dated and in writing, so you can review it several times before you send it and be certain of the exact wording. Often email is a good conduit for this, as it gets logged and both yourself and the recepient can save a copy.

Truth is, the actual solution will take more than either one of these activities. It sounds like there's a really serious disconnect between what your management thinks is your responsibility and within your control and what you think. I suspect in the upcoming weeks and months, you'll need to have a lot of talks with your management and get clear about these things and make sure that you have the capability to take on the responsibility that they are trying to give you.

It's hard to say point blank "I won't take responsibility for that" as usually taking responsibility for work is part of the job and this will put you into direct conflict with your management where they can rightfully say "we told him to do this, and he refused". But saying "I can't fix X, Y, or Z, so how can I take responsibility for the overall outcome?" may yeild a better conversation. Best yet is to (in the future as you are doing work) be able to say "I'm taking responsibility for this, there's this problem (insert problem), and what I think is the best answer is this (insert answer) and to do that, I need to have this happen - can you help me get that done?" It's generally called "managing up" - it may be that there are cases where you can't take control, but you can still control the situation. That means you need to be open to your management saying "no, do it this way" but at least then you are having a productive conversation and taking responsibility, and if they give you direction, then you can't get in big trouble by following it.

You can also try taking your issue to HR or to upper management, but when it comes to day to day work and the evaluation of it, responsibility will eventually return to you and your direct management. You can log your disagreement with these outside groups, but it's honestly unlikely to change the situation.

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I think you need to be sure you know what the real issue is. Do they think you are doing a bad job, or do they want an excuse not to pay you?

If they really think you are doing a bad job then you need to deal with that, ideally after the issue of pay is settled. It is important for you to turn that perception around. It sounds like you don't think the results they are looking for are under your control. Try to get from them what they expect you to do to accomplish them. If it depends on other people try to get them to commit to helping you enlist those people to meet the goal. If they insist on holding you to a standard you can't meet, then it may not be something you can fix. Just be aware you are in a bad situation that won't likely change at this job.

If it is really just a negotiating tactic, don't waste too much time on it. You can't talk someone out of something they don't really believe in the first place. Just make your case for why you should get whatever money/benefits you are trying to get. If they bring up the results that you feel weren't your fault, simply state that you disagree and it's something you will all have to resolve going forward, but believe you still deserve X and Y because of A, B, and C.

Like any salary negotiation, at the end of the day you can't force them to give you what they don't want to give you. If they won't budge, you can tell them that you don't believe you are being fairly compensated (or, if that isn't true, that you don't believe your review and increase were fair), but you want to work with them to make sure that this doesn't happen again next time. And of course, you can always look for another job.

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My suggestion is to consider having a meeting discussing expectations and how to ensure they are properly communicated. It would appear you got blindsided in the review which as much as that may suck, you have to decide to what extent do you think there is something that would take your side in this that would give you satisfaction. What are you prepared to try to do to fix this before the next review?

To what extent are you aware of your own biases and subjective views on what was discussed with management? Have you tried seeing things from their view or do you have very little trust in them? There is the Dr. Phil question of, "Would you rather be right or be happy?" here where you seem to want to be right without realizing the other side of the fence here.

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Always the reasons for the disagreement are knowledge gaps or communication gap. What ever the reason is your boss perception is very important for your career. Now what you need? What you will gain by expressing disagreement only? All you need to know what are his further action plan? and how their conclusions are going affect you. And most important is you have to make sure that doesn't happen again.

If you want to continue current organization you have to improve your self. Set up followup meeting and tell him you are seriously intended to improve and his help is required. And then start tell him politely that certain points are not able to accept and back up with that reasons and facts. And most importantly specify them the meeting is not for expressing disagreement and to understand why such conflict occurs what gaps leading to this. If this is due to perception problem and ask him how to fix the perception problem. Emphasize again that you don't want to happen it again from your side. Ask his suggestions how to avoid perception problems, what measures that you can take from your side.

This way you expressed your disagreement. You are showing that you are already in the way of improving. And you will get to know where the things went wrong. And finally seriously start working to avoid these things again.

How ever if they are trying to pay less diplomatically then you polish your resume and try for other job where you get paid what you desire.

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Firstly communicate them you have been surprised with those facts. And tell like " I am very regret that I am unable to realize some X and Y reasons and unable to agree with those". And asks the manager why you haven't been communicated. If that is not communicated proper way tell them the way they communicate and the situation when it has been communicated leads me to take into some other conclusions and honestly tell them if any body else in that situation they would have lead into such situation. Any way you have to take some part of responsibility for not getting the things what they are communicated and management also have some responsibility.

The obvious thing that management wants from you is to meet their expectations. With clear expectations, going forward ask for frequent feedback from them in clear in terms of how you are doing.

Finally search for other opportunity if you can where you get paid your desired rate.

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