4

For about four months I managed a small technical project, although my job title remained that of a person in a technical role. This was the first time I managed a project with this employer, and I returned to a technical role in the next project I worked on (it was already running and had a project manager and deputy in place when I joined).

This employer does its annual employee appraisals in one big batch, and that didn't come until a few months after the project I managed was over. I expected to be asked for input into the reviews of the employees on the project I managed, but I wasn't. For my own appraisal, the program manager (who I had reported to during the project I managed) wrote up my review and went over it with me; however, he indicated that additional input came from the project manager and deputy project manager on the newer project.

Was it my duty to know the management side of the process and write something up? Should I write up something now about each employee anyway and provide it to upper management as supplementary material? Should I be "reading between the lines" about my own future with this employer?

Supplemental data: I got along well with the managers who hired me, but they have moved on and the new managers and I don't seem to agree about much.

  • Does your company use a performance management system in which people are assigned roles in a hierarchy that also maps to the performance management workflow? (e.g. Employee A is reviewed by Manager B who is then reviewed by Super Manager C) Were you in an official managerial role for the people on your short-term team, or were you managing the project only? (e.g. they were not your direct reports) – jcmeloni Mar 11 '13 at 20:44
  • @jcmeloni: Thanks for the feedback. I edited the question to try to answer your questions. – GreenMatt Mar 11 '13 at 21:15
8

It sounds like you are in that place that hovers between management and superior indidivual contributor work... rest assured you're not alone. I spent a long time in such a position before I seemed to become a permanent manager.

Realize that in many technical venues there's a fuzzy line like this. Early in technical work, many technical lead/manager types end up spending quite a bit of time managing the work but not the people. At this stage, the potential manager has a great deal of technical know-how and not a great deal of people know-how - so organizations will frequently let the person manage the tasks and the work, and do some, but not all, of the people-management. At this phase, you may do performance reviews or you may not. You may get asked for feedback... or not... it has a lot to with the organization and what both the informal and formal norms are for this.

Feedback giving is a real trick, and it can be explosive. It's not unusual for a fairly green manager to get left out of the loop a bit. I could wish it would be otherwise, because the only way to get good at feedback giving is practice - but it's not unusual for "the new guy" to not get solicited for information.

Some thoughts on your questions:

Was it my duty to know the management side of the process and write something up?

If you were not asked, it was not your duty. There is often a line between "people who manage work getting done" and "people who manage people". I strongly suspect you are still in less people-centric side of management.

Realize that you may have been asked informally - if you had a debrief at the end of your project, it's very likely that commentary from such a debrief was factored in. It's not unusual for the responsibility for getting insights to fall on the manager to has to give the person their performance feedback.

Should I write up something now about each employee anyway and provide it to upper management as supplementary material?

If you want to go the extra mile, figure out who the feedback-giving manager is and give them a quick, informal hello and ask if they want your feedback. I'd recommend this over giving any sort of long, formal writeup, as it may be WAY more than they want.

Realize that in a busy organization, corporate may have booked off as little as 1-2 hours of prep time per employee for their management to have collected, prepared and presented this feedback. So you writing a separate, long formal piece of feedback may be a LOT of information that they simply don't have time to make use of.

Easier is a quick phone call or drop-by hello where you can ask "hey, do you need anything?" and get a sense of what they want.

Should I be "reading between the lines" about my own future with this employer?

NO.

Quite frankly, this isn't enough information to make any sort of a guess on, long term. If you want to know what your prospects for management are in this organization - ask. Don't try to read between the lines. Chances are good that you have some weak spots in your personal style that could use strengthening -- we all do! Get the feedback on the weak spots, mention your interest, ask about opportunities. That conversation will tell you 20 times more about your prospects in your job than guessing at something like this.

  • Thanks for the response. My "reading between the lines" issue is because of my situation with managment. Their style is rather militaristic, imo - keeping information to themselves and wanting unquestioning obeidience to their directives, whereas I'm more of an information sharer who wants to understand why I'm doing something ... but I suppose that's a subject for another question! – GreenMatt Mar 12 '13 at 13:49
  • Yeah... personal style/management style stuff is tricky. And extra tricky in a loaded situation. Almost any time reviews of performance comes up, I usually assume we have an extra keg of gunpowder. :) – bethlakshmi Mar 12 '13 at 21:32
4

Should I have input into an appraisal for an employee who no longer works for me?

Yes.

If you directly managed someone for a period of time that occurred during this employee's evaluation period, then you should have input into their appraisal.

Having said that, the reality is that sometimes a person in your capacity is not asked to weigh in on an employee's appraisal.

Why? Because bonuses, raises, and promotions are not solely based on merit. Nor are they always dispensed in a fair or egalitarian manner.

It would be difficult for me (or anyone else on Workplace.SE) to speculate any further as to why you were not asked to to weigh in on a former direct report's performance appraisal.

1

If the company doesn't formally solicit input from all the project managers of each employee, then apparently that's their norm.

In this scenario, your best course of action is to write up a brief review of each employee on each of your projects and pass it along to the appropriate reviewing manager. Don't expect much impact from your review - just do it out of courtesy.

I doubt there are any "lines" between which you should try to read about yourself here.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.