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Company I work for has a review process, where we discuss what we have achieved for the past n number of months. In this mid-year review my manager wrote the following feedback:

There have been instances where tickets have taken longer deliver to than the estimate provided. I often put this down to procrastination. Likes to ‘tinker’ until she feels she can deliver what she believes to be the optimal solution.

After I read the review, the word "procrastination" stuck in my mind. As I see it, the word procrastination means that you spend doing other stuff, like browsing shopping websites, forums instead of actually doing the work. Not the fact that I take pride in my work and I try to achieve a high degree of craftsmanship. I've had a face to face discussion with the manager, where I pressed to give an example.

The example she gave was a task that took longer then expected because I was not directly involved in it, I was more in a guidance role at the start. Not until I saw the other person struggling, did I directly intervened and helped, working overtime to get everything delivered. Working overtime in my mind does not mean procrastination! I've asked the feedback to be removed directly as she agreed with my view of the events but said that she couldn't change it once submitted.

The other parts of the feedback I've got no problem with, and I feel that this particular feedback has a negative and unfair connotation for someone who would read it at first and was not a participant to our face to face discussion also may hinder the career progression in the company.

Question is: Should I let it go or should I escalate this in the hope that the feedback will be removed? I'm not sure if this is the best option as I have a good working relationship with the manager and not really see how the escalation could help, other then being moved to another team or maybe create animosity between me and the manager.

What other options would I have?

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    In my mind procrastination is a sign of lack of time management skills and laziness. This is not the case here, as the manager made clear that it's not what she meant. It was due to with the fact that I like to take my time to decide on the "perfect" technical solution from my point of view. This is something I believe that all software developers are guilty off. My worry is how the word procrastination is perceived by an external person that might read that review. – Mimi GDJ Sep 27 '18 at 20:34
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    A word of warning: often technical and young people are "bullied" and labelled as "bad" communicators to justify not advancing them in the organisation/not giving raises, especially in places where IT is not the core business. Learn to recognise the signs, and if it the case, as soon as you get out, the better. They will just pretend it will improve. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 28 '18 at 2:40
  • @Joe Strazzere, given the context a better word would have been "perfectionist". I did suggest an alternative, do just ask to be removed. – Mimi GDJ Sep 28 '18 at 8:17
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Perception, unfortunately, is often reality. If your manager has the impression that you do not deliver as fast as expected, there's usually a reason for that, even if it's not totally warranted.

Everyone can improve in some way, so everyone should at some point receive negative (hopefully constructive) feedback.

This is how we improve. By trying to eliminate all negative feedback, you're holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. Demonstrating progress, maturity, and personal growth is often done by comparing past behavior to current behavior.

Should I let it go or should I escalate this in the hope that the feedback will be removed?

Do not escalate this. You will only draw more attention to the issue, and going over your manager's head is almost never a good idea. If you take an antagonistic approach you may cause a larger problem than you started with.

Besides, there may be some truth to it -- if you were in a guidance role, it's partially your responsibility to ensure a successful outcome. Perhaps if you were more proactive in dealing with the other person, you wouldn't have had to work overtime.

Not saying you're at fault, but I would encourage you to consider the scenario from your manager's point of view. After all, that's the view that ultimately counts.

What other options would I have?

Work with your manager to avoid this kind of confusion in the future.

In the grand scheme of things, your manager's complaints are pretty minor, and can be easily resolved. If you're able to improve in your manager's eyes, you have a very good chance of getting a highly positive review next time.

Discuss with your manager some ways you can improve -- you might schedule regular one-on-one sessions to learn what your manager's expectations are, and how best to meet them.

  • I disagree with this answer, because it doesn't account for potential change in management and fixing an error in the employee's performance review record. I advocate for having the manager escalate to HR to help change the review. This way it isn't the OP going over the manager's head, but instead asking someone with the administrator permission needed to correct an error. – jcmack Sep 27 '18 at 20:22
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    @jcmack it's not clear the manager really wants to change the feedback. To say she "couldn't change it once submitted" may just be a nice way of saying no. If this were a major disciplinary action I would agree with you, but I don't see this feedback as worth the time to contest. I can see your point of view however. – mcknz Sep 27 '18 at 20:31
  • "'To say she "couldn't change it once submitted" may just be a nice way of saying no.' doesn't seem particularly nice to me. I'd rather my manager be direct with me, but I agree it's very much possible that's manager is telling a lie to get out of changing the review. – jcmack Sep 28 '18 at 1:58
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In my company, a manager discusses their feedback of you BEFORE the official feedback is submitted. This gives the reviewer and you a chance to discuss the feedback first and clear up any misunderstandings such as in your case.

Question is: Should I let it go or should I escalate this in the hope that the feedback will be removed?

You never know when a bad review will come back to haunt you, especially during promotion or salary reviews. Imagine if your current manager quits or forgets the context of this bad review. If you plan on staying with your current company, I would have your manager escalate to HR (after all it was your manager that made the mistake) and have the feedback removed by an administrator.

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    This answer seems to assume that the manager agrees that she (the manager) made a mistake. It is not at all clear to me that that is the case. – Jim Clay Sep 27 '18 at 19:57
  • @JimClay OP specifically said that they requested to have the negative review removed after their manager agreed with their point of view, but the manager responded that she couldn't modify that review after it was submitted. There is typically a way for an administrator to modify the review (I work for a company that offers performance review software) – jcmack Sep 27 '18 at 20:19
  • Saying "she couldn't modify that review after it was submitted" seems like the kind of thing someone would say if they didn't want to change the review but didn't want to tell the person that. – Jim Clay Sep 28 '18 at 3:06
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As JCMack said, I would ask your manager to contact HR and see if there is a way the report could be edited or amended by an administrator, and follow up on this regularly. If the response comes back that HR can't fix it (unlikely to be true but possible), ask your manager for a written retraction of their statement and keep it on file in case this review comes back to haunt you later. Your manager should reasonably be amenable to this solution.

If your manager is not amenable to this solution, I would take that as evidence that your manager is lying to you about the situation being resolved, and you are still on the hook for the negative feedback. Furthermore, this shows that your manager is willing to lie to you to create artificial good morale, rather than actually addressing the problem, and that should be a red flag to you (your boss lying to you should be a very big red flag about whether or not your employment is stable). If that were to happen, I would suggest trying to jump ship ASAP.

  • At the end of the day, the bad review only applies within the company, it can lead to a lack of raise or promotion, but would never be mentioned during an employment check, thereby moving on squashes it too if the manager won't retract. – RandomUs1r Sep 28 '18 at 20:35
  • Right, it can lead to a lack of raise or promotion, and that's bad. The fact that the manager won't retract it means that the manager believes it is true, even though they told OP that they don't. That's called lying. I've had managers lie to me before, and it never ended well; don't make the mistake I did and believe them. – Ertai87 Sep 28 '18 at 20:45

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