Dear J.T. & Dale: A few months ago, my department manager left the company and a new manager was hired from outside. Conflicts with the team began almost immediately, and two of our best employees resigned. When it was time for my annual performance review, my new manager threw me under the bus and rated me “Fails to meet expectations.”
Previously, I had always received excellent ratings. Three weeks ago the new department manager was fired. I want to have the last performance evaluation rescinded. Is this reasonable? Should I cut my losses and look for another job? – Rick
DALE: I imagine that everyone in the company has no respect for the opinions of this errant manager, so it’s tempting to just ignore that review. However, you’d be wise to try to un-ring that bell. Months or years from now, someone who doesn’t know the story might read your file and come upon a criticism, maybe something as simple as “not a team player.”
The new manager is going to look for that trait, perhaps becoming hypersensitive, which might result in your being defensive about it. This is how one criticism starts a downward spiral. (There was a marvelous book on this phenomenon, “The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome,” by Jean-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux.)
J.T.: The best way to handle the situation is to go to HR and explain it all. The key is being careful not to criticize the company for the poor hire. Instead, focus on how you are recommitted to the company and want to help in any way you can.
At that point, gently inquire if there is any way to have the review removed from your file. I think as long as you show them you are 100 percent behind the company and want to help them, they’ll see you as a valued, tenured employee whom they want to help get the clean record he deserves.
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