“How should I respond to a retaliatory, dishonest and negative Performance Review?”

Question: I’ve been with this government job for 8 years. Recently I talked to a Manager about two Team Leaders, one who I think is a bully, and the other who I think plays favorites. Even though the conversation was supposed to be confidential, the Manager told another Manager, and the next thing I know, after 8 years, all of a sudden my performance is rated terrible.

I know I am not perfect, but I also know I am not terrible. I have asked my Manager for examples of my poor performance, but he couldn’t give me any.

I have been taken off work that allows me to be in the office, and given only field work, which is far more difficult to do. Now another employee is being considered for the in-office work.

I am a single mother and the sole provider for my three kids. Also, this job gives us our medical benefits. I really can’t afford to lose this job, especially in this economy.

I did speak with HR, but I have not heard back from them. Do you think Management is going to fix this wrong? What can I do?

Name Withheld
St. George, Utah

Answer: If there is one thing you remember from reading this Answer, I hope it is this: “Do not speak with your lips, but with your fingers.” Once again, “No lips; yes fingers.”
 
What I mean is this: when you are reporting events or raising concerns about being treated unfairly, or improperly, or being retaliated against – which seems to be what happened to you – you should not just “speak” with a Manager, or “speak” with Human Resources. Instead, you need to “Email” to them a written account of what happened, when it happened, who may have witnessed it happening, why you think it happened, and every other fact, event and circumstance that makes your version of events that much more credible.

If you “speak,” what you say may not be remembered, or reported honestly, or taken seriously. When you “write” things in an email, what you have written can’t be forgotten, or lied about, or ignored. And, it can be very, very easily  sent later by you to higher authorities, if that becomes necessary. Sure you can “speak,” but if you do you also need to send an email and write, “As I told you today . . . .” 

In your email report, make sure you give as many details as possible, including your request for specific examples of poor performance, and the Manager’s inability to provide any. 

If you would like assistance in objecting to retaliation on the job [click here].

I truly hope that you (1) get your old duties back, that you (2) remain employed, and that you (3) feel more secure at work in the future. The chances of each of those three things happening go up about 200% if you “use your fingers, not your lips” in reporting wrong treatment to Human Resources, Managers or other authorities at work.

We have lots of articles, readers’ letters and videos on “How to Push Back to Poor Performance Reviews.” To view our video [click here]. To review the many Newsletters/Q&A’s on this topic [click here]. Read and watch them; they’re all free. And then get down to work reporting to Human Resources what happened, just as you did to me.

If you would like assistance in responding to your Performance Review [click here].

Oh, yes – a tip for the future. Never assume, or trust, that a conversation at work will be held in confidence; they rarely are. You have a better chance of reporting that same information to a Manager, and adding at the end: “I appreciate your promise to keep this TOTALLY CONFIDENTIAL.” When that is in writing, and in an email they cannot deny receiving, your chances of it being honored go up dramatically.

Hope, pray and trust this will help you and your children. I will say a prayer for you and them tonight.

Thanks for writing in.    

Best, Al Sklover

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©  2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.