Q&A: Just when I thought my performance review couldn't get any worse...

...To much of my surprise, my manager told me that I'm [insert your favorite weakness], which is totally not true. What should I do?

If the feedback contains zero truth (ie. something your manager makes up just to get the review over with ;-), you can try

  • Ask him for specific examples, but acknowledge the feedback first. If he says "You are not a team player." say, "I hear you. To lead me there, could you give me an example of how I could be a team player?" Ask about specific failed projects in which better teamwork could have helped.
  • Rephrase his feedback if you think it's too strong. Ask, "What do I need to do more of or less of to be more of a team player?", implying that you are already a team player but you can do more (so is everybody).
  • Ask yourself if he's part of the problem. Were you surprised to hear that feedback? If you were, then this is probably the first time he's mentioned it. That could backfire on him as a competent manager would keep feedbacks flowing on a regular basis - not saving them for yearend reviews._ If you choose to go on offensive_, try to get him into a self-evaluatory mode. (Think twice before going on offensive though.)
    • Ask questions in a positive and nonthreatening tone, like "When did it come to your attension that I'm not a team player?", then
    • Hint to him what a competent manager would do in this sitiuation, like "I know you are a good manager and you always give good feedbacks as they are needed. But I'm totally shocked that this is not brought up sooner."
    • Close the loop when he (as a good manager would) asks if there is anything she can do to help you next year. Say, "I believe I learned and contributed a lot on recent projects, and, it would be more helpful to receive more feedback sooner on [specific aspects of the project]. "
  • Ask your internal customers (traders/analysts) for feedbacks if you are sure they are on your side. Tell your boss, "I think it's important to know what the traders I support think of my work as well, so I can develop a more comprehensive action plan." Chances are this will lead to a more balanced feedback.

Category: C++ Quant > From The Trenches

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