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I love the company that I work at; however, since the integration of colleagues from a business that we bought (around a year ago) the working conditions have really taken a turn for the worse.

I have principally 2 problems:

  • I have serious doubts about the competence of one of the guys brought in (he is my n+2 manager, and will be conducting part of my annual review). He has negatively impacted a lot of things since his arrival, and to my knowlege, the company is (increasingly) aware of this.

  • There's open conflict in the team (I am sometimes dragged into this), rude email exchanges (I'm aware of this, but not participating) and generally a terrible, combative ambiance when certain members of the team are in meetings. My manager is present, but he himself is part of the conflict.

I have to write up a document for my annual review about my satisfaction with the company, and I feel that i should talk about the negative aspects mentioned above.

My questions are thus:

  • Should I be honest?
  • If so should I try to add a positive light? How?
  • In the case that I'm honest, how I limit the negative impact to my position (and future progression) in the company?

Any additional comments to how to approach this situation are very welcome.

Notes:

  • HR are aware of my concerns.
  • I'm not alone in how I feel, at least 2 of my colleagues share my concerns.
  • I don't plan to leave the company
  • Are you saying your manager is in conflict with the new guy or supporting the new guy? – HenryM Aug 11 at 16:05
  • @HenryM sorry, to be clear, my manager is the new guy that has been brought in and the problems we are having are with him. It's him that will be conducting part of my review. – User632716 Aug 11 at 16:24
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Since HR is aware of the issues, including your personnal behaviour and feelings about those issues, you can write them in a formal review. However, you need to be sure of two things:

  • First, only HR have access to this review: not your n+2 nor any of your colleagues
  • Second, you don't say in the post that it affects your work: so don't say it in the review either, be clear on that. If it does affect your work however, you need to speak of it to your manager

You can add positive light on what you like in the company. I don't know how you review is organized, but since you stay in the company, don't forget to emphasize what works well, is nice there.

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What you have written here is what you should put in the review, it's OK to say all of those things together, that you are unsure how you should tackle this because you want to stay and you like the company but some very awkward situations exist and you don't know the best way to put a positive spin on it. Personally myself I wouldn't bother, as there is a tendency for these things to work themselves out over time and I like to concentrate on adding value for the company I work for and that takes up all of my energy. Maybe you can write that as well as a foreword for yourself before you delve into the negative

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Whenever you deal with HR, you should know of one thing: they are only concerned about the company. With that in mind, they won't be on your side, they will be on the company's side.

So if you write this negative review, and only HR will see it, then you can be sure you'll be under heavy scrutiny than normal. They will read over your review but if the review is mostly about your personal grievances with working with others, then chances are you'll be transferred, fired, or laid off.

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  • Yes, you make a very good point. You have to be 100% certain that anything negative can be backed up and is widely known and you shouldn't at any time put a heavy negative slant on anything, because negativity itself, even justified negativty can get you in trouble. Companies want you to view these things as challenges to overcome, not grief that affects your work performance – user120435 Aug 11 at 12:09
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    If you're going this route, it's important to make sure you're objectively describing negative things rather than negatively describing things that could be negative or objective. For example, if two colleagues regularly have verbal fights, the objective way isn't to say they 'have annoying and childish fights' but to say they 'have verbal exchanges in public, on average [n] times a week, in a way that causes disturbance to those [working around them / in a meeting with them]'. – Cronax Aug 11 at 14:38
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In such a review, you could differentiate between giving your opinion and giving your perspective.

If you just give your opinion, you risk making the situation worse: you'll add your feelings to the 'pile' and people who read your review and don't agree might have a response. This is the kind of thing that can limit your career opportunities.

What you can do is to provide your perspective. Use objective language to describe the aspects that affect you negatively, making sure you note what the impact is. Try to stay away from all judgmental language and don't speak for anyone other than yourself where possible.

An example of giving your opinion can be found in the OP:

There's open conflict in the team (I am sometimes dragged into this), rude email exchanges (I'm aware of this, but not participating) and generally a terrible, combative ambiance when certain members of the team are in meetings. My manager is present, but he himself is part of the conflict.

An example of making this more about objectively giving your perspective might be along these lines:

Team members regularly have heated conflicts during meetings. These conflicts make it harder for me to contribute to achieving the stated goal of these meetings. I feel like these conflicts often don't get adequately resolved, leading to what I perceive to be recurring friction between the members involved. This detracts from my generally positive job satisfaction.

In a review, it's not your job to solve all the issues the company has. All you can do is provide your perspective, after that it's the company's task to collect the feedback from these reviews and take whatever actions they deem appropriate. In my experience, in cases like this management is well aware of the issues is collecting information and ammunition to use to base their decisions on. By giving them objective information about the facts, you're helping them. If you add your own personal feelings to the mix, you may become part of the problem in their eyes, leading to potential problems.

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