QUESTION: My boss and I have very different opinions about the performance of two people who report to me. She refused to sign their annual appraisals until I lowered the ratings and added some negative comments. I delayed turning in the forms for four months until the human resources manager finally forced me to submit them.

Even though I tried to soften my manager's critical comments, one of the employees still burst into tears during our appraisal discussion. She wanted to know why no one had told her about these issues before. These are good, loyal employees who don't deserve to be treated like this. What should I do?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, you seem to have a basic misconception about how the appraisal process is supposed to work. To promote consistency across work groups, evaluations should always be reviewed by higher-level managers. Therefore, your boss has both the right and the obligation to have input into your appraisals.

Upper-level oversight is largely designed to counteract "rater bias," which refers to the tendency of some supervisors to give lots of high ratings, while others habitually rate much lower. Left unchecked, these natural predispositions can result in appraisals which are both inaccurate and unfair.

With your employees, the primary problem is that their evaluations contained a nasty surprise. If you were aware of your boss's displeasure, but chose to withhold that information, then you did these people a great disservice. Since your manager has the power to affect their careers, they need to know how she views their performance.

The bottom line here is that you must provide each employee with a clear set of performance expectations supported by your boss. If you have difficulty accomplishing this goal, consider asking your HR manager for help. Otherwise, you will inevitably find yourself repeating this unpleasant experience during the next appraisal cycle.

Q: After I helped a friend get a job in my office, she immediately began trying to exclude me from any project which involved our manager. Now that she seems to have his undivided attention, he has started giving her assignments which should not be part of her job.

This situation has hurt me so much that I have trouble focusing on my work and have even considered resigning. When I talked to the manager about it, he accused me of having a personal problem with this woman. How should I handle this?

A: If you are honest with yourself, I believe you will realize that your boss is correct. Your vision is so clouded by jealousy and resentment that you can't see things clearly. In reality, your manager has every right to assign work to whomever he chooses, and your colleague has every right to take on additional responsibilities.

If you are wise, you will get your emotions under control, find a way to get along with your co-worker, and look for ways to shine in your own job. The only way to change this situation is to first change yourself.



Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.


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