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Performance review

B:LB:L Registered User regular
edited March 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Background: I work at a tech-related job on salary, and have worked at this job for over a year now. I got this job because I busted my ass off in an entry-level position, and I continue to bust my ass off, staying overtime without extra pay (salary) almost every day, and I come in on Saturday as well when it's needed of me.


A week ago I made a judgement call under pressure from my boss on a project, to get it completed due to the looming deadline. I was told by my boss later that the PH was not happy with this, and that he wanted to work with me to improve the process for these projects. Three days ago on Friday, the PH calls me into a meeting, along with my boss.

They blindsided me with a "performance improvement plan" that they want me to sign (this is with no HR present in the meeting, mind you), developed by BOTH the PH and my boss.

For those who want to cut it short, the document basically accuses me of negligence and incompetence, and a signature on it is for admission of guilt. I'll be put in a "probationary" period of 30 days in which I need to be perfect 100% on my work in a "quality manner" or else I can be terminated.


I think that's bullshit. Longer explaination follows below, but feel free to skip to the end because it's mostly ranting with explanations for this document and its accusations:

This performance improvement plan that they want me to sign sounds more like a confession of guilt, because it accuses me of many things that I either haven't done or felt that I violated.

Communication - I agree that I have communication issues at times, because I find it hard to talk to the boss. Whenever a coworker asks a question, my boss apologizes for not making things clear. When I ask a question, my boss sighs and rolls their eyes like I'm an annoyance, and doesn't really give me the info I need to complete my tasks or tells me to find it myself. I feel like there's a double standard here just because I report directly to them. I'm also accused of talking to people outside of the company for advice, which I have never done. These accusations and my treatment makes it tough for me to communicate with the boss.

Attendance - I do arrive late often, but at most by 15-20 minutes, tops. It's a flexible hour job, though, and I ALWAYS stay very late so I more than make up for lost time. I'm accused of suffering the same traffic everyone else does...but everyone else takes a different freeway which is less crowded. On the very first workday of the year, I was immediately brought into the office by my boss, told to close the door, and was chastised for being late, and judged immediately with the statement that I have no excuse. That day, I woke up extra early and got ready extra early because I wanted to start the new year off right at work. I left home early...and I got there late. A tree fell on the freeway so traffic trickled onto the local streets which I took to circumvent this, and that local street had road construction that closed off all but one lane. I could not communicate this to my boss in the face of that accusation. I'm thinking that if my boss wants me to get in at 9am, I'll be out of the office at 6pm, sharp.

Work - I have been very careful with my work, only making few mistakes here and there, only because of changes in the process, late-at-night work and other similar cases. I do not consistently screw up, and my track record is pretty clean. I'm accused here of making judgement calls when I had no authority to do so, but that has only happened once due to a mistaken analysis of the situation.

Analysis - I'm expected to analyze and improve processes on everything related to a project...but I'm not a manager.

Proactivity - I have always sought out ways I can improve, ways I can help out with projects, and ways I can help out others in my company. One of the reasons I was promoted was because I was proactive. The accusation here is that I wait until the last minute to request certain materials. I have been keeping up with my projects, outside of one or two slip-ups due to oversight by multiple parties.


I'm expected to sign this and turn it in tomorrow. I'm wondering what my options are, because I love my job and I don't want to sign something that I might not have to, especially if it's worded in a way to accuse me of several things that I don't think I violated.

My current plan is to talk to HR early tomorrow and figure out things from there, but I'll eventually have to talk to my boss. Is there anything else in general I should say or push for? I'm worried about my rights as an employee here, and I certainly don't want to sign a confession of incompetence if I haven't been.

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Posts

  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I had something very similar happen to me recently, where I was being written up (which at my job means no quarterly bonus and no ability for internal movement, which I am currently trying to do) for my team's quality and that I haven't been doing my job by either improving it or disciplining them (I'm a supervisor).

    Basically what I did was gather evidence to the contrary, showing that my team had not only steadily improved over the last few months, but that they were average with the other teams. After presenting that to my supervisor and him presenting it to his, my written warning was dropped to a verbal warning (which I have yet to receive and probably won't, these things are formal at my work). I think I was a victim of office politics (a few other things happened to other people at the same time that went away as well), and their argument crumbled in the face of hard data.

    If you can, I recommend gathering any evidence or statistics that shows your employer is in the wrong and try to fight it if you feel it is unwarranted. You also may want to go up the chain of command, because it sounds like you're being punished for a superior looking bad.

    If not, it sounds like you may want to start looking elsewhere for employment. Some employers are dicks and there's not much you can do to change that other than go to one who is not.

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  • ZineZine Registered User
    edited March 2008
    I am going to have to agree with Sir Carcass on this one, if you can find soem hard data saying that you are doing your job they really can't do much against you. If you can't find anything or you just don't have it, a talk to HR is the right idea. It sounds like they need a scapegoat and they picked you. Don't sign anything until you have all the facts, like exactly what acts of "negligence" you have done and why they were not dealt with that that time. Just seems fishy that they bring this up now all of a sudden and not when the problem occured.

  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Zine wrote: »
    I am going to have to agree with Sir Carcass on this one, if you can find soem hard data saying that you are doing your job they really can't do much against you. If you can't find anything or you just don't have it, a talk to HR is the right idea. It sounds like they need a scapegoat and they picked you. Don't sign anything until you have all the facts, like exactly what acts of "negligence" you have done and why they were not dealt with that that time. Just seems fishy that they bring this up now all of a sudden and not when the problem occured.

    I agree withe the above two. If they try to pressure you on this just try and make it known that you're trying to be absolutely clear on everything they're saying about you, and that in order to defend yourself you need time to prepare. It's not an unreasonable request, although if they're trying to pin something on you, whether they accept it is a different matter.

    Hope things go well for you.

  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    As well as the above, which I agree with, I would continue with your plans to talk to HR. Anything that involves your continued employment there should at least have gone through HR or have someone from HR present during discussion of it.

  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Yeah, definitely talk to HR, and make it known that you are (ask "permission" from your boss before going down). That got a co-worker's issue dropped completely. A lot of times, HR will bend over to avoid any kind of lawsuits. Sometimes it makes it harder for companies to get rid of people just not cut out for the job. Other times, it actually protects people who are being wronged.

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  • thej3wthej3w Registered User
    edited March 2008
    B:L wrote: »
    I'm also accused of talking to people outside of the company for advice, which I have never done.

    So... isn't this kinda talking to people outside of the company for advice?

    Seriously though, this is a list that they came up with. Make your own list. Show how when you are late, you stay way later and come in on weekends. Just put stuff on your list like that and try to counter all of the things on their list as much as possible. Even if you don't show them this list, at least talking to your boss tomorrow after making this list will give you a better chance to explain things, as you will have written it down.

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  • desperaterobotsdesperaterobots Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Yeah. Similarly, we had a new sales manager start at my company a few months back. He was all 'things are gonna change' etc.

    Got called in about being late. I was frequently late, though my work and supervisors were always so breezy it was never an issue. Really, an apology for lateness and thinks were hunky-dory. I do my work competently, thoroughly, and with just the right amount of sass.

    Anyway. It went from a "quick chat" to this guy throwing his hands in the air talking to me like I was a child. "How old are you? And you still manage to be late?!" That whole thing. He complained that I'd been warned several times by my direct supervisor about lateness and still had not improved, and so that if I was late again within the next month I'd be fired.

    HR got involved and got me to sign something saying I agreed to improve etc. But in that meeting I made it clear that the new sales manager had not got his facts straight. Basically, that I had never been "warned" about the "issue" of my lateness. I didn't try to shrug off the blame and made a commitment to improve, but I asked if I could have a written response to this put in my file since it was complete bullshit. The new sales manager hummed and harred about "maybe miscommunicating" with my direct supervisor, but HR were receptive and the meeting ended well.

    He fired a whole bunch of people for petty shit. Our company went from an awesome place to work to a hell hole. Many people quit because he was so vile. He got fired a month later for emailing the boss of an employee of ours who left, telling them she was a terrible employee. How ironic!

    Um, the advice here is: Stand up for yourself if you have a leg to stand on. However, being late is generally inexcusable. "The freeway is always busy" means you always have to get up earlier to get to work on time. Took me a while to understand this too. I blame the internet for keeping me up at night with such rich, interesting content, including perhaps pornography you might say...

  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Its all going to depend on where you live whether or not you have to sign this performance review, and also what your company policy is on these. Where i work, you get a PR when you screw up, and you do need to sign it otherwise its grounds for termination.

    Personally i would sign it if i were you, for the following reasons:

    Communication - You have no excuse here, and this is probably a perception thing. If your boss needs to be aware of things, or if youre not sure what to be doing, you need to talk to your boss, end of story. Even if they make you feel dumb, even if they yell at you, you need to bring stuff forward otherwise youre either screwing stuff up, or youre leaving your boss out of the loop, both of which makes your boss look like a jackass when these things are brought up to him by someone else, and makes your boss even more pissed off than if youd just talked to him in the first place.

    Attendance - Again, no excuse. Its youre responsibility to be on time for work. Personally, i try to arrive 30 minutes early every day, and about 20% of the time i do. 70% i get there about 15 minutes early, and the final 10% maybe 5 minutes early or just on time. You need to budget for the unexpected. I mean, yeah it sucks that you tried and you were late anyway, but that happens. However, if you were on time or early every other day last year, it probably would not have been mentioned. Also, staying late and coming in doesnt matter, whats under review here is your ability to get to work on time, which you are unable to do in a consistent manner. Now, you say its flexibile start times, so im not sure why theyd be giving you shit, unless youre only under the impression that it is. A couple people where i work got slammed hard for that, so you might want to double check with your boss, or even his boss.

    Work - Well... i dont work with you so i dont know. However, maybe the mistakes you make are bigger than you realise. I know a lot of my coworkers are unable to see the impact of their mistakes since either theyre never brought up to them until its at the catastrophe stage, or they simply dont realise what happens after they make certain decisions. Again, i dont know you, and i dont know what kind of mistakes youre making, or even what you do at work, so this is really subjective.

    Analysis - Everyone is expected to do this, even if theyre not a manager, at any job ive ever had, and at any level in any company ive ever been with. Process improvement is not just something for managers and suits. If you see something isnt working, and you think youve got a better way to do it, bring it forward, talk to your boss, or again failing that, his boss. And it doesnt even have to be major things, like totally revamping your management structure. It can be as simple as the way papers are organized, or the way files are organized in a shared directory, or even a simple program that automates an otherwise repetetive manual task.

    Proactivity - Again, i dont work with you, so i dont know. You may be proactive in one area but not in others. Again this could tie back in with not informing your manager of problems, or something of that nature. While id consider myself fairly proactive, i know there are some areas of my job i could be way more proactive, and i strive to do it. Sometimes it just doesnt happen though, whether i realise it at the time or not.



    Oh and for the people saying its weird that this is being brought up now, after said incident, its really not. Most of the time if theyre doing a performance review such as this, especially one that has a probationary period attached, there is quite a bit of research that goes into it, whether its going back over past work, asking coworkers for input, or whatever. They generally want to identify everything all at once so it doesnt end up with you back in the office in 2 months, or 6 months or whatever, with another performance review hanging over your head. Also ive never heard of one being conducted with HR present, even at times when it resulted in the employees getting an "unpaid vacation" from work. Only if its turned into a huge issue, with claims of unfairness or wrongdoing do i ever see the HR guys in a case like this.

    Honestly, i think youre taking this in the wrong way. I mean, it sounds like theyve got enough there that they probably could have fired you if they really wanted to. The idea of a performance improvement plan is not to chastise the employee and say "You fucked up big time here", its more to help the employee identify the shortcomings they may have at work, and help them improve. Its also to help prevent future mistakes instead of letting the employee continue on, blissfully unaware of the carnage theyre leaving in their wake. I mean, yeah it sucks to get blindsided with one when you think everythings going great, but again, thats part of life, unknowingly fucking up while feeling great about what youre doing. Pretty much anyone whos ever had a job for a long period of time has had it happen to them.

    Anyway, my advice would be to sign it, but before you turn it in, tell them you want weekly follow up meetings, and at the same time do your goddamn best to meet every single goal theyve set for you. This way youll be able to tell within the first week whether theyre really out to get you, or whether they actually want to help you. You wont have that 50/50 chance at the end of thirty days where they can just say "Well, we tried to help you, but you didnt improve, sorry, you dont work here anymore".

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  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Zeon wrote: »
    Also ive never heard of one being conducted with HR present, even at times when it resulted in the employees getting an "unpaid vacation" from work. Only if its turned into a huge issue, with claims of unfairness or wrongdoing do i ever see the HR guys in a case like this.

    I agree with most of what you're saying, but if it were me and my bosses were telling me to sign a document that puts me on a probation period where they can fire me at any moment for pretty much any reason, I'd at least want to talk to HR about it first.

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