Q: My manager, "Ray," recently asked me to begin supervising the clerical staff. This is a troublesome group of five women who have a history of slacking off. They always arrive late and leave early, but put a full day on their time cards. Ray knows about these problems, but has done nothing to address them.
According to Ray, he doesn't have enough time to manage this group, so now I have to take them on. I have a feeling this change will create lots of problems, but if I refuse, I might as well look for another job. Any suggestions?
A: Your wimpy boss seems to be escaping his performance management duties by dumping them on you. But since declining this honor is not an option, try to increase your odds of success by engaging Ray in some advance planning.
Start by asking specific questions to clarify your supervisory authority. For example, will you be responsible for making work assignments? Are you supposed to monitor the time cards? When performance problems occur, should you discuss them with Ray or take action yourself?
Next, draft a set of clerical work standards for Ray to review. Ask him to meet with the staff, explain these expectations, and describe your new role. This step is critical, because unless Ray clearly puts you in charge, the staff will never view you as their supervisor.
If Ray consistently backs you up, this new management structure might actually work. But if he allows the staff to play one of you against the other, then you are in for a rough ride.
Unhappy with a 'satisfactory' review
Q: I am very upset about my recent performance review. I received an overall rating of "satisfactory," even though more than half the individual items were rated "outstanding." This doesn't make any sense, and I feel like I'm being short-changed.
My manager said I was doing a good job and offered no suggestions for improvement, yet I still got an average rating and raise. The same thing happened last year. How do I keep this from happening again?
A: Without more information, it's impossible to know whether your rating is appropriate. But since employees often have a limited understanding of the appraisal process, let me suggest a couple of things to consider.
First, most organizations restrict the number of top ratings that managers are allowed to use. Since appraisals must typically be approved by both upper management and human resources, your boss may not be able to distribute many "outstanding" scores.
Also, the overall rating is not usually determined by averaging all the sub-ratings unless a weighting system is used. The reason is that some goals, tasks or traits may be more important than others. Therefore, your overall rating of "satisfactory" might not be as inappropriate as it seems.
If you have questions about how the appraisal system works, your human-resources manager will undoubtedly be glad to explain. But the person who really owes you an explanation is your boss, since he has failed to provide any useful feedback. Your wimpy manager is apparently trying to escape an honest performance discussion, so you must take the initiative to ask for one.
For example: " I appreciated your positive comments during my last performance review. However, I was disappointed with my overall score, so I need to know how I can improve. Because I hope to get an 'outstanding' rating next time, I will do my best to accomplish any objectives that we establish."
Since his appraisals will be reviewed by others, your boss probably can't guarantee a particular rating. But if you are able to meet his expectations, your odds of being "outstanding" should certainly increase.