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My boss and I have a meeting every Tuesday to discuss happenings and current events. These discussions are by no means unprofessional or irrelevant, and some of them are incredibly important to my overall productivity.

Recently I had a performance review, and I am confused by the feedback I received. On one hand, my boss gave me a good review along with a 6% raise. However, there were also comments about things I could improve on, and they included references to resources that I'd never heard of previously. At the time of the evaluation, I was unable to ask my boss about those comments.

Should I ask my questions about this review before the next Tuesday meeting, or wait?

I don't want to be pushy, but some of my questions may lead into other issues or questions (If that's true, why's it on my review?). These are important questions to me, and the longer I wait to address them, the worse of a place I will be in to ask more.

Please keep in mind: my manager has been managing me for about 9 months, and I'm her only and first ever employee. I don't want to be difficult, but I feel I'm missing an opportunity for both of us to learn how to better handle both of our respective positions.

ETA: Please note that this is not a question about the questions, but rather one about the timing of asking those questions. Without knowing the entire situation (or me explaining it fully) it is hard to determine these are the right questions to ask, although I've verified these questions are fair to ask with a third party who knows the situation. I'd like to thank the answers so far for the feedback regarding them, but unfortunately it's not my issue.

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    Just because they are important questions to you does not mean they need to be addressed by management. You are the same person told to stop asking management to define job duties and if you kept asking to define them that you would be liable for termination. You are an entry level employee - they don't owe you an answer to where do you see the company in 5 years. Stop trying to make your performance review their problem. Put your head down and do your job (quietly). With your current attitude you are on a path to getting fired. – paparazzo Apr 20 '16 at 18:11
  • @Paparazzi I don't think fired. I think the OP feels like his/her manager is "new" and as such need to be "on the same page" (otherwise known as "my manager isn't right because they're new"). With that said, I think his/her career at the company will have many bumps and roadblocks and ultimately he/she would just leave on his/her own. – Dan Apr 20 '16 at 19:03
  • The part about the sick leave: did you actually relay you were sick for the day in question? Seems odd a company would not tolerate any sort of sick leave. My advice is to figure out what happened to your sick leave and from there figure out what happens during emergencies and how to properly relay them to your manager so she won't wonder where you are. – Dan Apr 20 '16 at 19:11
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    You have a very hostile attitude to your office (and this site's users apparently). What is your management experience? What makes you think your manager isn't doing her job properly? – Lilienthal Apr 21 '16 at 8:54
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    @Anoplexian, to summarize: You got a good review with a 6% raise (a very good raise) and some poorly worded feedback that you have areas in which you can improve further. You want to understand the poorly worded feedback better and you are asking here whether it is better to ask your manager immediately or wait for your regularly scheduled meeting? – adeady Apr 21 '16 at 17:16
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On the question of whether to ask now or wait, the answer is probably that you should wait. Reviews are shaped by office politics as well as your performance. Overall, your performance was judged positively, and it doesn't sound like the review demanded any urgent changes.

I'd also assume the review suggested some areas for improvement, some of which might be frustrating for you to hear about. This is common in reviews; few organizations or managers are really great at challenging every employee in the right ways all the time. That means sometimes you get dinged in a review for a project that was set up to fail, for someone else's mistakes, or for lacking a superhuman ability to predict what people want. These types of statements are naturally painful, and if you respond too soon your response can be more retaliatory rather than constructive.

Instead, give yourself some time to absorb any shock, and focus your next interaction on the thing you can change: your growth and future performance. In your next 1:1, ask for your boss' guidance on how you can continue to perform well and grow. Do this in person, in an environment focused on your personal relationship rather than office politics (a lunch outside the office or after-work drinks can work well for this). Listen carefully, and don't expect her statements to perfectly match what she wrote in the review. Ask about how you can make her and your team more successful.

While it can be tempting to react strongly to a review, remember that your boss is not your therapist. Your strongest common motivation is centered on your future success working together. Focus on that!

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You got a good performance review with a good raise. Since this is tagged United States, understand that anything above a 2-3% raise is larger than a cost of living raise. When you see that, remember that this new boss of yours went to bat in the organization for you, to get you a good raise. They clearly value you as an employee and want to keep you.

About the comments in the review such as:

"OP generally plans and prioritizes well. He plans ahead for additional resources and he usually integrates changes smoothly into existing plans. OP sets measurable, realistic goals and objectives for himself. He works in an organized manner. However, he could make more efficient use of his time through better planning and organization"

In the context that the review was good I would view these comments as "things that can always be improved." I came from a dancing background, and in dance no matter how good you are, there are things to do better. A dancer can always try to kick higher, jump higher, spin faster, etc. Your boss may have this kind of "always can be improved" mindset, so you were in essence told

"Your kicks are really high and we like that. Please work on getting them even higher."

Since this was a positive review, I don't see any harm in waiting for the regular meeting. Go ahead and ask for clarification on these points, and seek out the additional resources they mentioned. They may not have any specifics in mind for how to improve in an area, other than "stretch more" so it might be important to just listen to how they view the feedback you got. Since this is their first time giving reviews, they may not have wanted to give a "this person is a complete rock star with no flaws" review or may have been instructed to try to find areas where each person could improve.

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    Completely agreed here. All of these questions seem like they can be answered by doing some research. If I was a manager, my first thought would be this person doesn't figure out things him/her self and as such I cannot trust them to figure things out as I need them. I would suggest first figuring out some things then asking based on those. Ex. "I found a community program at X, Y, Z, and I think they are great for my community outreach program." – Dan Apr 20 '16 at 18:59
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    I was told "OP generally plans and prioritizes well. He plans ahead for additional resources and he usually integrates changes smoothly into existing plans. OP sets measurable, realistic goals and objectives for himself. He works in an organized manner. However, he could make more efficient use of his time through better planning and organization." As far as I'm aware, I'm organized and efficient. My boss disagrees, so I'm asking her why, rather than wanting to be spoon fed. I'm debating copying verbatim my performance review..... 1/? – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 19:26
  • We also don't have community resources available through the company that has been made publicly aware, so if there is, I'm asking where to find them. -1 for assuming the questions themselves are invalid and not actually answering the question. It's "should I press to get my questions answered sooner at the cost of my manager's wrath or let it stand at the cost of immediate relevance" not "Are these good questions to ask?". – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 19:29
  • In regards your edit: She told me we would bring it up in the next meeting (next Tuesday) which brings your answer back to the original question. Please read the question asked not the questions to be asked. – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 19:36
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My opinion is that the first two questions set you in a bad place. They aren't inherently wrong or bad questions, but they are odd and kind of presumptuous questions for a subordinate employee to ask. If I were you I would not even bother asking those questions and just focus on asking about the negative aspects of your review.

Your question about where to get access to community training courses and what specific ones you should be focusing on is totally a legit question that you should ask. I think that your question #3 and #4 could be rolled in to one question. Basically put, just ask what is available to you provided by the company or community and what topics she feels you should focus on. That will get the ball rolling to give you feedback on your actual "failures" as an employee.

In fact, that one question should very easily roll in to answering all of your questions regarding your review. If she wrote in the review that you are lacking in the area of anticipating problems, chances are she will ask you to focus on resources that can help with that. This does not need to even be done in a meeting setting. You can send an email with a concise and well written inquiry and leave it at that.

I think the only follow up question that you might want to ask is for your manager to offer you a specific scenario where she felt you failed and how you could have reacted better to the problem/task at hand. I would only ask this question if her response to your previous request was vague or did not give you the information you needed to make a guess as to which scenario this happened.

The final segment of that same question: "How can I use this to remove implausible solutions from my work?" does not fully make sense to me. Did your review suggest that solutions you offered were implausible? If that is the case, and your review suggested that your suggestions and solutions were implausible, I would not ask that question and do a little bit of research on your own as to why she felt that way. I only make that recommendation because if I were a manager and an employee made suggestions that were implausible / difficult to execute and I told them so, I would be a bit concerned that they could not see why they were.

Overall I think that you have a very defensive approach to all of this. Asking for clarification on a negative review is totally fine and professional, but it is your wording and positioning that come off defensive and a bit pretentious. It never bodes well when someone injects a negative opinion of a person said by a third party into a conversation.

Overall, I think you just need to stick to the absolutes here and not start getting a bit ahead of yourself. Regardless of whether or not this is a first time manager, they are still your manager and you should treat them as such.

  • I like this answer for if the questions are good, but it doesn't seem to answer the actual question asked. – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 21:30
  • I'm sorry I don't see how this does not answer the question. The question was "should I press my questions or wait until the meeting" and my answer was basically that you should rethink your questions to start and send them in an email instead of waiting for a meeting. – LindsayMac Apr 20 '16 at 22:12
  • It's a bit buried, I apologize for missing it. My biggest confusion is that my review WASN'T BAD. I had a good review, and was given a 6% raise to go with it. I want to do even better next time, but from what I can understand, my problems aren't actually my problems (which is where my confusion and need for questions is in the first place). If you want to see the verbatim (minus the name) response, the answer by adeady has a comment with it. How do I approach it with this in mind? – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 22:23
  • Regardless of whether or not the entire review was negative or not (you did not show your review nor disclose the fact that it was overall positive and came with a raise) you included information regarding negative reviews of certain aspects of your employment. That is what can only be referred to. If you have additional information that is necessary for people to give you a complete answer then include it in the question, not buried in the comments. That said, I do not think that the new information changes my opinion of how you should proceed. – LindsayMac Apr 20 '16 at 22:27
  • Should I include my review for clarity? I didn't know how to, so I opted to leave it out (as it would make the question quite long). – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 22:55

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