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Hi,

I work in a very small company. There are only 2 full-time employees: me and my boss. There are 2 other part-timers: one person who was hired to do the bookkeeping and another co-worker.

Yesterday my boss told me that today she is giving me a performance review. I noticed she invited the person who does the bookkeeping (who also happens to be her best friend). When I asked why this other person was invited, she replied "I've made her in charge of HR so by-the-book, she should be there."

I really have a problem with a 3rd person being present, especially since I know the review won't be favorable since my boss and I don't really get along.

Do I have any rights to request that only my boss and I are present?

Hopefully somebody can respond today since my review is late this afternoon.

Thanks.

tomw's picture

I'm afraid I cannot say what is proper or what your rights are, but I can tell you what my firm does. I'm sure a smaller company would have a different approach.

In my company (50 people), there are usually only the reviewee plus the partner in charge of their department. If they span departments, there might be two partners. The HR person is never there.

The reviewer might solicit feedback from co-workers before the review, but it's usually a very intimate discussion.

Afterward, the reviewee writes up what was discussed and the reviewer signs off on it (or returns it for revisions if something is inaccurate). That paper and the written feedback from the reviewee's peers are all our HR department sees.

Mark's picture

No, you have no such right. The boss can invite whomever she wants.

This doesn't sound good, nor in any way professional. I would guess that she just wants someone else there to witness the bad review, and perhaps is even considering terminating you.

I'm serious.

BUT...you're thinking about this the wrong way. Rather than worrying about the process - you have no leverage there, and your boss isn't terribly effective at managing.

Here's what to do:

1. Prepare by making a list of specific actions and accomplishments that you have delivered both this year and at ANY time you've worked there (since you've never had a review, she could bring up really old stuff, so you should be ready with that as well). Put more current and more directly beneficial to the company first, of course. She'll surely interrupt you. There's nothing wrong with asking to continue, politely, "because if we're going to talk about my performance, surely you want to consider everything."

2. Think about what isn't going well, either in your relationship with your boss or with your work product. Be ready to talk - watch out about getting defensive!!! - about how you saw those situations. Consider being ready to admitting you messed up, and committing to renewed effectiveness there.

3. STAY CALM. If you are an emotional person, pinch yourself during if you have to keep from yelling or crying. Anything less than professional that you do will be noted. What's worse, it will be WRITTEN DOWN while you watch, making it even harder on you if you're emotional.

4. Do not raise your voice under any circumstances.

5. Ignore the "HR" person. She is irrelevant to YOU. If she speaks about your performance, address your boss.

6. Don't be afraid to apologize for your poor performance (in her eyes, which are the ones that count), or for your less than great relationship.

7. ASK FOR CLARIFICATION. You may not understand something, or FAR MORE LIKELY - things will be said vaguely, like, "this could be serious." If that's said, say, "would you elaborate? What do you mean by "serious"? If she says, "I don't know how much longer I can tolerate this, ask, "what do you mean you don't know... how long do I have?"

8. IF YOU THINK IT'S POSSIBLE, ASK IF YOU ARE IN DANGER OF LOSING YOUR JOB. If you get an answer that confirms your suspicion, ask for specifics of why, and what you can do to change things, and how long you have to do so.

9. TAKE NOTES. Write down what is said to you. You'll be amazed how often folks disagree after the fact, and having written notes helps, either to deal with a bad aftermath, or to finalize any commitments.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news...but I didn't want you to be surprised.

Good luck.

Mark

susb8383's picture

Well, it turned out not to be a performance review at all. The whole meeting lasted about 5 minutes. It was really more of a discussion about how to achieve more billable hours in a work day.

But making the list of accomplishments did help, I think. I'd forgotten all the things I'd done over the past few years, and reading the list did help me relax a little.

Thanks for all the feedback.

Mark's picture

Glad it turned out less poorly than you imagined.

And, sounds like you have some work to do on your relationship with your boss.

Mark

susb8383's picture

Definitely.

Thanks for all your help.