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Six months ago, I was reorganized under a different manager. My former manager (who has resigned) and I spoke almost daily, and as such, reviews flowed easily and were very effective. However, I have almost no contact with my new manager. We're located half a mile from each other, we only see each other in large monthly meetings, and he never responds to my emails - for all intents and purposes, he does not know me, nor does he know what I do. He missed HR's deadline for a performance review, and now suddenly scheduled one two days in advance.

I want to make the best out of this situation, but I don't know what to expect. On what basis can my manager evaluate my performance when he knows nothing about it, especially with only two days to prepare?

  • 4
    This might be relevant and meaningful reading. – enderland Nov 3 '14 at 18:21
  • @enderland I appreciate the reference - I have been extremely visible in the workplace over the last several years, though that has been impacted by reorganization. It's a good reminder for me to look for new ways to put myself out there more! – Prosun Nov 4 '14 at 0:28
  • This is cynical but, the review exists only to make make you feel like the organisation cares and somewhat mitigate the forthcoming disappointment of your pay rise i.e. to lower your expectations but make you feel good about it. Accept this but don't be sad. Use your bosses lack of knowledge to create an excessively positive picture of yourself, you should be promoted, they can't do without you etc. provide all the positive evidence you can. Whatever picture you paint its going to be moderated towards the mean. Treat this like the game it is and play it well. Who will be your boss next time? – Jodrell Nov 4 '14 at 12:11
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While the other answers are good, I like to take a different approach to performance reviews. This situation used to happen all the time when I was in the military. Performance review time would be up, and boom, supervisor is on remote temporary duty for 6 months or you get assigned a new supervisor because of an organizational restructure (happens all the time). The only constant in the entire process is you, so you are the only one who can be depended upon to make sure that your review is conducted properly, fairly and timely.

I've said this in other postings, but I'll never get tired of saying it. You should always keep an "I love me" folder somewhere. I prefer a hard copy file most of the time, but in my current consultant role I've transferred my file to digital and uploaded it to a shared drive so I can get to it anywhere/anytime. In this folder should be emails, memoranda, and recorded metrics about all of the good stuff you've done. This should include any benchmarks on projects, deliveries, anything you would put on a resume or on a project completion report.

Keep track of the stuff that you haven't done well with as well, but include this as more of a personal improvement plan. Identify problems you had with projects, places you feel improvements can be made. Include a plan for making those improvements. Provide citations for when you sought feedback and assistance.

In a nutshell, you want to be able to provide this folder to your new supervisor in a meeting to identify all the good things you've done, the places you feel can be improved and anything that shows you are a team worker and asset to the organization. Coming to your performance review prepared in this fashion will only impress your supervisor more.

In the next two days I would suggest you use some time to track down every bit of this kind of information that you can and prepare at least a hurried version of such a folder. 

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    I hate upvoting answers that "compete" with my own, but damn that's good. – Chris E Nov 3 '14 at 18:17
  • @ChristopherEstep: I can't even take credit for it. When I joined the military I had an NCO mentor who gave me this exact advice. 21 years running and it has not failed me once. In fact, it's gotten me out of a couple of jams over the years. – Joel Etherton Nov 3 '14 at 18:28
  • @JoelEtherton I made a simple edit that I'm waiting to be reviewed - I bolded the bit about "you are the only one who can be depended upon," because I think that is SO important! I like the "'I love me' folder" terminology - I'm building one now. Thanks for the great feedback! – Prosun Nov 4 '14 at 0:36
  • @Prosun: Approved. I think it definitely deserves emphasis. – Joel Etherton Nov 4 '14 at 0:58
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Even though you don't know your new manager that well, you can still go in as prepared as possible, even though it may not have any effect on the evaluation when all is said and done.

  • Go over and bring in any information regarding any projects you've worked on and in particular any projects that you're still involved in.
  • Review and make notes of what your previous manager has said to you and about you (that you are aware)
  • Be prepared to list some things you can improve on.
  • Bring with you some quantifiable and reachable goals.
  • Have some questions ready to ask your manager to show you are engaged in your job and want to constantly improve, as well as demonstrating (whether it's actually the case or not) that your manager's input is important to you.

These are all items that are typically part of many employee reviews. Having this information ahead of time will make you appear prepared and ready to participate in your review, as well as to potentially defend yourself if you find yourself blindsided.

In many ways you're going to have to treat it like an interview. Since he doesn't know you well, you're going to need to have a positive attitude and no your subject matter (i.e. your job) and can explain anything that is asked.

Aside from these things, you are pretty much at the mercy of your new manager since he's not communicative, but I think this can help you minimize any negatives and may help him evaluate you positively.

  • I will upvote this as soon as I have the rep, as it's definitely a solid honorable mention. What you say about treating it like an interview is, although I don't want to admit it, probably very true. What you say about "it may not have any effect on the evaluation" is also a very real concern, as reviews are not reputed in my organization for having any functional value. However, I don't see that as a reason to slack on mine - but it's still a harsh reality. – Prosun Nov 4 '14 at 0:37
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On what basis can my manager evaluate my performance when he knows nothing about it, especially with only two days to prepare?

There's no way to know for sure on what basis your manager will evaluate your performance, until the review is completed. So there's no real way to know what to expect, since you and your manager have no history upon which you can draw.

But he could:

  • Survey those who work with you closely, and use that as the basis for his evaluation
  • Have you evaluate yourself, and use that as the basis for his evaluation
  • Use only whatever actual accomplishments he has knowledge of, and use that as the basis for his evaluation
  • Use whatever limited contact, emails, etc he has, and use that as the basis for his evaluation
  • Some combination of these factors

You can best prepare for your evaluation by gathering your planned and unplanned accomplishments, writing them up, and sending them to him ahead of time. That way, you have a chance to get your evaluation done under your terms, backed by whatever facts you know (including facts that he doesn't know).

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This is the most common type of scenario in today's industry. I would like to present what happened in my case. The outgoing manager was quite friendly with the boss and had left notes on his favorite employees, luckily I was in his good books too. When things like this happen, part of the responsibility stands with the outgoing manager too, as no one would be able to replace his years of dedication and supervision.

What you can do is point out your good milestones to the new manager and show him how you are committed to the future of the company. But yes, don't go too much overboard with the old manager's achievements, as some might take it in the wrong way, thinking "I'm here for 6 months and he hasn't noticed anything good yet in me".

Overall, present a balanced summary of what you have achieved and everything you plan to under the new manager's tenure. That way , you are thankful about the past experience and also excited about the upcoming challenges.

  • I'd dispute that never knowing your manager is "the most common scenario". It happens, sure, but in my experience, it's certainly not the most common way!! – Reinstate Monica Nov 4 '14 at 8:10
  • I was referring to knowing the manager and him leaving the office as the most common scenario , as i have witnessed it twice during my professional experience of 3 years . And sorry for the confusion , English isn't my first language :| – Caffeine Coder Nov 4 '14 at 9:06

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