I am a new manager and performance appraisals are coming up. Although in general I am regarded as above standards (I was promoted for being the top employee of the year) I am aware that some of my objectives in recent weeks were not met by deadline. So I expect at least some part of my appraisal to be negative.
However, I strongly feel that this was not my fault, and don't want to come across as simply trying to be defensive or placing the blame elsewhere. As a matter of fact, it may be one of the few times in my life where I really feel I have to stand up or I will be misunderstood.
I report to two bosses. Under Jack, I have to confirm that all different newsletters are published to our clients every Friday. Under Jill, I ensure all writers know what to write, content is proofread, all data is correct, good images are sourced etc. and that everything can be correctly fed into Jill's newsletter publishing software. At the same time, I also help Jill in projects to improve the software. (the "newsletters" are just a simplification of an actually much more complex work function, too long to explain)
Jack is based in another city. Jill sits right next to me and creates/improves other software across the company. Jill and I have an agreement that I send him everything by Wednesday evening. I often complete my part Tuesdays, working at very high intensity. Then it's all in Jill's hands who usually has the newsletters ready by Thursday, but sometimes Jill's software is broken, has a bug or there is some testing going on. When this happens, even if I do my part by Tuesday, Jill might wait until Thursday and then realize the problem. In those situations, the newsletters don't go out until Saturday.
The problem is, for some reason, Jack tells me this should never happen again and is bad etc. But I don't even say sorry because I somehow feel it's unfair. I try to give hints at the fact that the delay didn't depend on me, but Jack doesn't seem to fully understand until I diplomatically ask Jill to tell Jack. And even then, Jack often seems to have a negative impression of me.
I don't like to point fingers, especially since Jill is right next to me. Jack and Jill are at the same level though in different departments.
I am now afraid this may come up during my appraisal, and would like to ask if you have any advice on how I could explain, in the most professional and polite manner possible: I had absolutely nothing to do with this! It is unfair that I am even told this.
(I think my main fear is to make Jill look bad)