A reader writes:
I have worked in HR for seven and a half years, working my way up from an HR Assistant to a Senior HR Assistant and 3 years ago to a Recruiter. I hire employees for about 30 departmental managers.
I have always had excellent yearly performance reviews, most years being ranked 4 (very effective) and last year 5 (exceptionally effective). Imagine my surprise when in this year’s review, I was rated as 2 (minimally effective). When I asked how my ranking could have plunged so much without me being made aware of it over the course of the year, I received no response. I then asked what determined such a poor ranking and I was told that one manager thought that I lacked confidence in hiring nurse practitioners (which was absolutely true as I am not a nurse recruiter and was never adequately trained to be one). I then asked my boss if she spoke to any of the other 30 managers for whom I work and she said no.
I feel as though my being ranked a 2 is totally inconsistent with the positive feedback/comments I receive from those managers for whom I recruit. I feel as though in order for me to understand and accept my boss's review of me, she should provide me with concrete examples of comments and instances that made her determination accurate. In addition, if I truly plunged as she claims I did, should she not have had me on a work plan to improve my performance?
Your boss is a bad manager, at least when it comes to feedback.
Nothing in a performance review should be a surprise. Your manager should have been giving you ongoing feedback throughout the year, and the performance review should be a summary of that feedback.
So she screwed up and didn't give you adequate feedback throughout the year. Which makes it even more important that the feedback in your evaluation be specific and include examples and that you not be stonewalled when you ask for them.
I don't know how much of your job centers around hiring nurse practitioners. If it's a small part, and you're doing the rest of it well, a rating of "minimally effective" seems out of whack. If that's the case, then either your boss has other concerns she's not sharing with you, she doesn't know how to do an evaluation well, or she has a personal issue with you. Any of those three options is an indictment of her.
On the other hand, if hiring nurse practitioners is a key component of your job, then her rating may be reasonable and her fault lies in not having spoken to you about this until now. In that case, the problem is not the evaluation itself, but the fact that this information wasn't conveyed to you earlier. This is also an indictment of her.
Either way, go back to her and tell her what you plan to do to work on the nurse practitioner issue, and tell her that you were mortified to learn that this has been a problem and that you hadn't known until now. Ask if you can get more regular feedback throughout the year, and ask that she bring any concerns to your attention earlier on.
And if the rating is indeed off base, then you do also have the option of trying to get it changed, especially if it will impact your next raise. But if you go that route, proceed delicately. You don't want to turn it into a fight between you and your manager; instead, you should approach it more as a question of whether this is something that should be revisited in the context of the rest of the excellent work you're doing. Weigh this option carefully though: You might succeed in getting it changed, or at least demonstrate to your manager that you aren't one to be messed with in this way. But on the other hand, you might poison the relationship permanently. So use your own knowledge of her, your company, etc. in figuring out whether that route makes sense.
I don't like this manager though.