TL;DR: My probation period may be extended, but my manager can't articulate how I can improve and is trusting me with long-term, high profile projects. How can I encourage him to be clear on how I can improve?
In February I started a new job as a senior manager in the UK Civil Service and I have a 6 month probation period. Whereas I'm new to the Civil Service, my manager has worked here for over 25 years.
My problems are
- My manager is looking to extend my probation period for performance related issues
- My manager is very flaky and finds it hard to give a clear message. Fortunately he has put this fact into my performance review, so there is a paper trail
- Moreover, I was not inducted properly. Only now am I finding out that I should have completed certain mandatory training courses, which happen to relate to the areas where my performance is rated under par. Again, this has been documented by my manager
To deal with my probation period (most likely) being extended, I have:
- Started job hunting
- Asked for a written performance improvement plan for me to work on, where I intend to demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that I'm good at the job
- Emailed my private address relevant documents for my own records, in case I need to lawyer up
I'm obviously preparing for the worse case scenario, but my manager is sending mixed messages, namely:
- Alongside the probation period actions, I've been asked to lead on some of the largest initiatives that my Department will be involved with for the next 3+ years
- Moreover, the feedback from my manager hasn't been helpful. When I ask for feedback, he says my work is good, needs a bit of tweaking, but he can't articulate how. He just says it needs to be in a more Civil Service style. When I ask for exemplars to mimic, he'll send me half-completed documents which I haven't found very instructive
My question is, how can I encourage my manager to be clearer in what he expects me to achieve to pass the probation period?