Sunday, May 24, 2009

Seeking wisdom

Today instead of writing about my work, I seek your words and wisdom. I have a good friend who is the manager of a local shop, a shop that provides services and products. She has been there well over 10 years, with the last two in a management position.

The issues.

1. She has a new boss, let's name her Gail, who spends her time telling everyone that she is the boss. The type of leadership Gail provides is a fix-it-yourself kind of management, sort of a 'don't-bother - me - with - your -problems' approach. Gail is brand new to leadership herself and it shows. No time to dialogue or provide help and resources. Not great leadership, management or mentorship. More of a you-do-it-because-I say-so director. And Gail is the golden employee, a real favorite with the owners, super at managing up, a condescending jerk managing down.

2. There is no centralized management or HR department. My friend is on her own.

3. She recently received her first performance evaluation ever in all her years at work. The review was a surprise, they didn't tell her it was coming. Gail and the VP of the area arrived at the business, sat down and read her the review. It was negative, critical and full of erroneous information. The critiques included poor leadership (the irony), poor management and disorganization. The information was collected (best guess) from one employee who has been a long term, chronic malcontent. None of her other 15+ employees were asked for feedback. None of her clients were asked for input. (An aside -nor is SHE asked for input on Gail's performance).

4. She was never asked to write any kind of self evaluation in preparation for the review. They never asked her for her input on how she was doing.

She is the kind of person who desperately wants to learn and grow. She solicits and welcomes honest critique from her staff so she can be a better manager and support. I have not personally known anyone so open to feedback and coaching as my friend. That is what makes this so complex for me. And her.

While she weighs options, I am helping her with a refute, so at the least she can counter some of the claims and get them in writing. Leaving is an option but not an ideal option. As you relax this long weekend, I would appreciate your thoughts on what to include in her counter letter. Her goals are to not burn any bridges or be disrespectful. She is much nicer than I am, just so you know. Thanks all.


HR Wench said...

Oh man, that stinks. The only thing to do, really, is write a rebuttal (and in it, formally request the rebuttal be included in her personnel file). I would keep it as factual and non-passive-aggressive as possible. I would also include questions she would like answered (or assumes she knows the answers to, but technically doesn't know for sure) such as if more than one of her employees was interviewed, etc.

Denise O'Berry said...

I'll second that HR Wench! It does truly stink. The good news is that she knows (or has an idea) where they stand. The bad news is that it isn't a good position for her at all. I think a factual rebuttal is a good idea. You could have her write the emotional one first so she could get some of the "I don't believe this is happening to me" stuff out of her system. Then take that and pull the facts out of it in addition to whatever is in her review. It's probably a strong sign that she should begin shopping her resume too. I know, not a good thing in today's market. But she'll probably be miserable there from here on out (if she wasn't already).

Lsa Rosendahl said...

I will third the motions of Denise and HR Wench - not a good situation at all. Take the high road in preparing the reply, noting the positives: goals met, compliments received, projects initiated etc. Probably will not get much of an answer but asking what their expectations of her are moving forward will put them on the spot to provide direction and guidance. Not fair after 10 good years, but maybe now is the time for her to move on to where she will be appreciated for her efforts.

Deirdre said...

Thanks Jenn. That's a good idea to put the unanswered questions. I will have to think about incorporating those.

Denise, thanks for stopping by. I love the idea of the emotional response first, a cleansing of sorts and then the factual response.

Lisa - thanks -you are right she prob won't get much of an answer but she does need, for her own sake, to write a response.

elliotross said...

I would also consider asking what **objective** criteria the original was based upon - if she has objective grounds to disagree.

Because you know that coming this way after 10 years - it will be subjective only - not based on any objective metrics