Several years ago, I received a poor performance review. I would like to know how I should have handled the delivery of my assessment when it was given to me.
I worked on many different projects at this employer over the years, and this employer had a matrix organization in which we worked on various projects from where we received peer feedback, but our department organization was responsible for putting us to work on various projects as well as aggregating and delivering our performance assessments.
At this time, this was my second annual performance cycle out of maybe five on this project, and all my other assessments on other projects and on this project both before this year and after this year have all been fine. This one year was my only anomaly. (See below for more information on others' similar experiences on this project.)
In this instance, one unique situation that happened to me was that I transitioned departments shortly before the assessment period while still working on the same project, so the same people that provided my peer feedback the prior year also provided my peer feedback this year; however, a different department supervisor who didn't yet know me was responsible for aggregating the peer feedback and delivering to me.
Since this supervisor didn't know me, he simply took the raw, unfiltered feedback (obviously from my project manager) and made it part of my assessment and never reached out to the peer to press further on details. The feedback was specific and not opinion-based. Given how specific it was, I was able to discern who provided the feedback even though the supervisors are supposed to do what they can to keep the feedback anonymous.
In other years in which my past and future supervisors had known me and had been familiar with the quality of my work, I was told they would reach out more and ensure the correctness and validity of any anomalous feedback before making it part of my formal assessment.
Upon receiving this feedback, I asked what was the process to refute the feedback since it was largely false. I was told I'm supposed to acknowledge the assessment as I did every year, and I was assured the acknowledgement simply meant that the performance discussed had occurred and that I had received my feedback; the acknowledgement was not supposed to mean whether or not I agreed with the feedback. Then, I was supposed to e-mail my supervisor with my rebuttal, which I did in a polite, detailed e-mail.
I was told that e-mail would be made part of my employee file, and maybe it was, but I don't know if they had the ability to put it into the goals and performance feedback system that we used.
I don't know if it was appropriate to have my supervisor prove to me that the e-mail truly had been made part of my employee file, or whether or not I should have raised it to HR for any next steps.
I don't believe there were any lasting effects for me or for anyone else (see below) since the incident occurred for each of us, respectively. In my case, my supervisor did make it a point over the next several quarters to make sure I was fine and didn't have any further complaints, so that was nice.
Some more information: Over the next few years on this project, when speaking with a few colleagues, it appeared that each one of us at different times had received a negative review each time--almost like a rotation--and each time was a surprise. All of us were individual contributors during these years, but we all were experienced with varying years of experience before arriving on this project. During our quarterly check-in, there was no "needs improvement" for three quarters of the year, but someone essentially appeared to get blamed that year for all of the project's problems as a sort of annual scapegoat.
The feedback generally sounded the same as mine as well: something about not performing, not raising concerns and problems, resulting in going over budget, over schedule, causing the project to miss deadlines, etc. Knowing these folks and working closely with them throughout each year, I knew exactly how false the feedback was and how false my feedback was during my "scapegoat" year.
In all cases for each of us, it never even got close to the point of any performance improvement program.