“If I’m moving over to a different manager at my company, need I object to a false, negative Performance Review?”

Question: I have worked for the same high profile company for 7 years. I have received extremely positive performance reviews for all of those years. I have never received verbal or written counseling or warnings of any kind.

Recently, my manager offered me a promotion, and I turned it down, and instead accepted a new position with a new manager in another department.

Sure enough, I just received my 2010 year-end performance review by my manager of just 5 months, and it rates me “does not meet expectations” in two areas that all other managers have rated me “exceeds expectations.” I believe this is in retaliation for my “leaving” him.

This is a matter of company records, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. But, since I am “moving on” within the company, and am not interested in a battle, should I contest the performance review? 

         Denver, Colorado

Answer: Dear BAC: Your letter  highlights an important aspect of Performance Reviews and Performance Improvement Plans. What struck me “between the eyes” was your use of five magic words: “a matter of company record.” 

a. If you don’t file an objection, company records may suggest you agreed with your review. If you heard that a person was accused of a crime, and he or she did not say, “I am innocent,” wouldn’t you consider that almost a confession? Most people would. It’s for this reason that I believe that, no matter how brief or simple – even in a short letter – you would be wise to file an objection to your Performance Review, at least to make sure your Human Resources file contains your view that the Performance Review was incorrect.
b. A negative Performance Review or Performance Improvement Plan could prevent future raises, future bonuses, and future promotions. Either under your employer’s present Human Resources policies, or perhaps under future Human Resources policies, your negative Performance Review may be factored into many different decisions about your future. In many companies – and perhaps including your own – these decisions include raises, bonuses, promotions and the like. I don’t believe it would be wise to leave this matter as is.

c. In fact, a negative Performance Review or Performance Improvement Plan could place you at the top of the “Layoff List” if layoffs take place. Who is chosen for layoff, too, may be decided, at least in part, along the lines of performance reviews.

d. Likewise, if you ever left your employer, a negative Performance Review or Performance Improvement Plan – without at least a response – could deny you the opportunity to return. Issues of performance can also end up being factored into decisions regarding who is permitted to return to employment. Don’t forget: the people who know you do great work may not still be working for the company at that time, but your poor Performance Review may well be sitting there, in your Human Resources file – without any indication that you disagreed with it.

BAC, it’s for these reasons, among others, that I strongly suggest you file a written objection and request that the Performance Review be withdrawn and/or corrected. As you, yourself, wrote: you hope this won’t happen to anyone else. That, too, is a good reason to file an objection.

We offer a Model Letter to assist you in responding to the negative Performance Review. To obtain a copy, [click here].

Though the decision is yours, I do hope you’ll give thought to these suggestions. Maybe I’m just “old fashioned,” but I simply love to see people stand up for themselves and for what is right. I just love it.

          Best, Al Sklover   

[performancereviews] © 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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