Handling Performance Evaluations - Part I
In the past, I’ve written numerous posts about negative performance evaluations and I’ve provided some suggestions for performance reviews. The reason why performance evaluations are heavily covered on this blog is because some people in the workplace are very good at hiding the real motivation behind their actions against Black and other minority employees—racism.
Anyone, who is under attack at work, must show that the reasons their employer has given for the "special attention" are nothing more than a pretext to hide their real motivation—active racism. This can’t be stressed enough. It is up to you to point out the lies and inconsistencies being offered by whoever is attacking you on the job.
Performance evaluations are a great way for a racist to hide their motivations for stifling the career of a Black or minority employee, to justify any negative employment actions they’ve taken against a Black or minority employee, and to set the employee up for future employment actions, up to and including termination. Empowered racists in the workplace (those with authority to direct the work of others, to suggest tangible employment actions, such as suspensions and demotions, etc.) heavily rely on their ability to corrupt the legitimate processes, procedures, and policies at a company for their own evil purposes. And, performance evaluations are a favored way of accomplishing many goals, when it comes to harassing, retaliating against or discriminating against Black or other minority workers.
Many racist managers make it very clear, when a minority worker is going to receive a negative review. These managers spend a lot of time laying the groundwork to provide a horrible review to minority workers. So, many Black workers are not surprised to walk into a review and hear all manner of falsehoods, misrepresentations, etc. regarding their performance and behavior during a review year. But, sometimes, there are surprises.
In my case, my supervisor created a mid-year performance evaluation process that was unprecedented. The sole purpose of the review was to retaliate against me to for providing truthful testimony in an investigation involving a Black manager. So, she decided to give me a very negative mid-year review at a company that never gave mid-year reviews. And, she followed it up with a very negative year-end review.
So, don’t make any assumptions going into a performance review meeting. You never know how it will turn out. So, it’s best to prepare for the best or worst case scenarios. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips for handling performance evaluations:
Tip #1: Know the performance evaluation guidelines at your company! If the guidelines aren’t included in the personnel manual, find out if there is other documentation and ask HR for a copy. You have a right to know the standards and criteria that will be used to judge the performance of EVERY employee. Without knowing the standards, you won’t know if you are being treated equitably and fairly, compared to other staff.
Additionally, knowing the guidelines for performance evaluations will help you hear anything “fishy” that’s said and can help you spot violations of corporate policies. For instance, your performance evaluation guidelines may state that recency errors shouldn't negatively impact your review. Therefore, if your supervisor is putting extreme weight on something that happened in the weeks prior to your review AND you never had a problem such as that, your supervisor may be engaging in recency error. This means that your review is being skewed towards the most recent negative behavior you showed as opposed to reflecting the entire review period—as it should!
Tip #2: Ask for a copy of your draft performance evaluation—in advance! Some employers allow employees to see a draft copy of their performance review in order for employees to prepare notes and questions for their performance review meeting. If policy allows you to see an advance copy of your review, make sure you do! If your supervisor doesn’t mention this, ask for a copy of your review. You don’t have to provide any other reason for seeing the review, except that you are entitled to a copy of the review (assuming it is in the policy/guidelines) and you want to be prepared for your review meeting.
Tip #3: If you don’t get an advance copy of your review, ask for a copy of your review AT THE START OF YOUR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION MEETING! Many managers like to read the review to employees and provide them with a copy of the review after the review meeting. However, a person can read a review anyway they want to make it sound one way or another. Your supervisor can read you a watered down version of the review. Or, your supervisor might skip several key and highly critical sentences contained the review. This might be for malicious reasons or this might be done because your supervisor doesn’t like confrontation, etc. But, you don’t know what the review says unless you read it yourself.
Remember, you are usually expected to sign the review before you leave the performance evaluation meeting. There’s not a scenario where you’re asked to take the review home, think about the content, sign it, and return it to your boss. You shouldn’t have to skim the review at the end of the meeting because your supervisor allegedly read the entire thing to you. I think we all know that supervisors usually want us to rush through the reading of the review and to just sign and get out of their office, so they can do the next review or just be done with the process. But, you should be able to completely read the review—AND ASK QUESTIONS. And, there shouldn’t be an issue with you reading the review as your supervisor is discussing it/reading it aloud. You can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Many more tips will be provided tomorrow. Stay tuned…