Community Thread: delivering and dealing with unfavorable performance reviews
As a manager, how do you deliver an unfavorable performance review? And how do you deal with getting a worse review than what you expected?
This is a bonus issue of the newsletter on a timely topic: delivering unfavorable performance reviews. It’s also an attempt to revive the infrequent community threads: focusing on timely topics where we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.
Performance reviews have been more aggressive than usual at plenty of companies. For managers currently at a company with stricter targets, this most likely meant more difficult performance calibrations, and then needing to deliver ratings they might not have agreed with.
Q: What is your advice in delivering unfavorable performance reviews as a manager, or dealing with an unfavorable review, as someone receiving it?
For managers of managers:
How have you helped first-time managers prepare to deliver performance feedback - especially when delivering negative performance feedback?
How do you ensure your managers know and follow the basic “rules” of delivering performance feedback, like not sharing details from inside the calibration?
How do you respond if you learn that your manager report communicated a performance review poorly, and now one of your skip-level reports is an attrition risk?
What is your advice to deal with being ‘pushed’ to a calibration outcome you don’t agree with?
How do you communicate performance ratings you are not entirely in agreement with?
How do you communicate unfavorable performance reviews: when you expect your direct report to disagree with the assessment?
For people who have gotten worse than expected performance reviews:
How have you digested a decision that felt very unfair?
Outside of going out and looking for a new job, what other actions have worked for you in the past?
A few recent situations
I’ve observed four recent situations through conversations with engineers, which all relate to this topic.
1. Getting a worse performance review than expected