What Action, If Any, Should I Take If A Performance Issue Never Previously Brought To My Attention Is Now Documented In My Review?

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When I advise managers on performance management, two of the most important principles are:

  • There should never be any surprises during an annual review.

  • Deal with performance issues as soon as possible and do not wait for the annual review.

Obviously, as an employee, it's to your benefit if manager's follow these principles, but we don't live in a perfect world. It's not uncommon for managers to wait until an annual review to discuss a performance issue.

Apart from dealing with the "issue" brought up in a professional and constructive manager (which you need to do with any performance problems discussed during an annual review, you might consider encouraging the manager to approach you earlier if and when s/he has a concern or performance related suggestion.

You can explain that you can't change something in the past, but you need to know if there are problems early enough so you can try to address them. Phrase the whole exchange as a win-win possibility (which it is).

It's understandable that you might feel ambushed in these situations, so it's really important that you don't allow your emotional reactions to cause you to act in destructive ways. It's simply not in your best interests, as an employee, to get angry or lash out at a manager for not talking to you earlier.

In the event that you disagree with the concerns of your manager during the annual review, and you can't come to some agreement, you may be able to document your own view of the situation and have it appended to your annual review papers.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
  • The review process is the LEAST important part of performance management
  • If managers aren't managing employee performance, why are they there?

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