How do I ask the boss to talk about performance in this situation?

I started a new job as chief of administration in September 2008.  In our weekly 03 with my boss have I never experienced negative feedback about my performance. Everything seemed fine until March when I fell sick. I have been totally absent much of the time and partly working the rest of the time.  My health has been quite bad from March, but I am feeling better and hopefully I will start to work again soon. In June, during the salary negotiation, my boss commented in general terms that he was not satisfied with my performance. He did not give me any specifics. My feeling is that the performance issue came up because of my time away from work, due to my health.

When I return to the workplace I plan to do the following:

1) Ask for specific feedback about my performance. I will ask him to give examples and focus on behaviors. 

2) Suggest to the boss that we talk about performance on a more regular basis in our future o3.

I hope some of you can comment on my plan and hopefully suggest some other ways to handle the situation.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Your plan is a good one, and I recommend you do so.

Some things to consider:

1. Generally, in situations like this, much more detailed information about your level of work, ability to come back, perceptions of the boss, and laws of employment where you work are necessary to provide good guidance. 

2.Be cautious about listening to just anyone telling you what to do.  Unfortunately, very few people understand the details.  If they don't have some sort of caveat which includes wanting to know more, and understanding details, but seem to have a strong opinion, BEWARE.  Too many people have a standard approach ("all bosses mistreat employees!" is quite likely, along with, "stand up for yourself!  Tell them what you think!")  These are BAD ideas.

3. Try to keep separate your thinking about your performance and your absences.  Also, I politely suggest to most in your situation to separate your work absence history from your medical condition.  While it is obvious they are linked, they are not the same thing.  You are asking your boss to separate work from attendance - you will make a better case for yourself if you separate health from attendance.  Health is a personal matter, that can be emotional, is of course deeply personal, and likely to cause you to be defensive and attacked.  Attendance, on the other hand, is a fact.  Know your facts.

4. I generally think that most directs - please do not take offense here - overestimate how likely a boss is to treat them poorly due to attendance.  But your situation may be just that.   Whether it is or isn't, gather your facts first.  Your health, company and national rules and laws protecting you, your attendance, your performance (all documents indicating performance good or bad.  This will help you understand YOUR case better, and perhaps your boss's perceptions.  If it IS a case of discrimination, make your case to someone in HR.  Whether it is or isn't, perform to a high level when at work, to reduce chances for your boss to make them the reason he takes unethical action.

5. If you believe your boss WOULD do this, and that appears so even if he isn't now, it's time to get your CV ready and be thinking about other opportunities.  Not recommending you leave, but it's never good to not be prepared.

6.  If you'd like to share more private details to help me give more precise guidance, please send me a PM. 

7.  I hope this resolves itself well, and soon.


leca's picture

Thank you!

Most helpfull Mark! I will go over my facts again and be prepared.

Concerning your answer in nr. 3.

Yes, the absence and medical condition is closely linked. No illness = no absence.

I think I get your point anyway. It is important to separate the two in my own mind. When the stakes are as high as my own health, I must focus on facts not on my emotions to make a good case. Right?