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Old 19.01.2017, 06:48
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Unjust Performance Reviews

Hello All,

What can one do about an unjust performance review? My wife has worked for a company for 6 years (3 years in USA, 3 years here); in the US, she had good performance reviews from her bosses. Her first year here, she did not have a performance review since she was technically a contractor. She was hired as an employee in 2015 and her current boss joined shortly afterwards.

She has a list of objectives per year and has some pretty good evidence that she completed them; the feedback she receives from the people she works with is also positive. The performance reviews are based on a "what" score (the objectives) and a "how" score (based on behaviors). Each is from 1 - 3 where 1 is the worst rating and 3 is the best. Any time you get a 1, there has to be a "Performance Improvement Plan" which should involve regular meetings with your manager to help rectify the situation. At the end of the plan, the employee and their boss review if improvement was made.

Unfortunately, her boss seems to have it out for her. Last year she received a what = 2 and a how = 1 for her review in 2015; there was concerns about stakeholder management and communication. A performance improvement plan was set up and her boss cancelled most of the meetings for that. At the end of the scheduled plan, he said that she did not make sufficient progress. We protested to HR and him with various emails showing good stakeholder management and communication. Eventually, they relented and "cancelled" the plan. (I'm not sure what this means since it was "completed" anyway.)

Everything seemed okay for the rest of 2016. There was no indiciation that he was unhappy with her performance in either the "what" or "how" aspects. She completed her objective, including two of which were very successful projects for the company. She just recieved her rating this year and it was a what = 1 and how = 1. The justification for the rating was that my wife's boss and his boss did not think she fit in. She was in tears and I am livid. We are planning on fighting the rating directly, going through emails, comparing them to the objectives, etc. Unfortunatley, HR was previously, strongly supporting him in the year so I anticipate that they will do the same this year.

We strongly suspect that he is trying to push her out of her position to hire a friend from his previous company. HR has already made note that she has re-applied to a job in the US and said something similar to "we are happy to see you applying to other positions since you and your boss don't get along here". Obviously, this cannot be proven.

I've read the various threads about mobbing, but I am not sure this applies here. Is this mobbing?

She'll have another meeting with her boss next week; he must "finalize" the performance review in January. We are currently going through each objective and "target behavior" to prove that she performed well in 2016 but I doubt that we will be able to change the rating. Any advice? Does she have an recourse outside of the company (mediation, for example)? We do not really want to leave CH (I like my job here), but should we run away from this situation?

~CrazyN8s
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Old 19.01.2017, 07:25
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

Unfortunately your wife won't win this. You can both battle about the injustice of a bad review, you can send emails, you can engage with HR and you can spend hours and hours of your own time chasing down a better score. But it won't make you happy.

Move on. Find another role where the person she works for appreciates her.
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Old 19.01.2017, 07:55
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

A) may or may not be mobbing
B) if contesting it doesn't work, all that is left is to move on if one feels treated unfairly
C) self-perception and the perception of others' about ourselves and our work and behavior do not always fully align
D) many companies force departments to issue a certain number of bad ratings per x employees (bell curve distribution). I've personally seen negative ratings be assigned to people just because 'someone, anyone' was required to be the fallguy
E) one bad rating after several good ones and followed by good ones usually has zero consequences, unless of course it is specifically intended to move her out
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Old 19.01.2017, 08:12
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

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HR has already made note that she has re-applied to a job in the US and said something similar to "we are happy to see you applying to other positions since you and your boss don't get along here".
This part, at least, should not worry you. That's a pretty standard response to an internal job application that is unsuccessful and is very unlikely to be a personal response to your partner. Applying for internal job vacancies is generally seen as a good thing, indicating your desire to advance your career, nit that you're unhappy where you are.
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Old 19.01.2017, 14:08
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

Hi OP, pass my support to your wife.

the action plan would depend on what you want to do in a longer prospective - stay at the company(in the US for ex.) or leave it. It is small world hence act carefully.

I am coming from a 70K corporation and have seen many cases like yours. First and foremost, mere mortals i.e. workforce i.e. headcount do believe in good and this makes them vulnerable. In real life, let alone in corporations, justice is a foreign concept and one should not be naive and do themselves a favour sooner than later by not applying justice to corporate career ladder.

HR in the company is to protect the company from the employee and not vice versa, hence escalating to them won't make any good at best and may in fact cause some unwanted "feedback" within the company. Big companies are managers' shops hence if a manager reckons "this employee is not performing well", there's little an employee can do as they would cover their opinions by all means and if the case will get to a "manager's word vs. employee word" you guess what the outcome will be.

I once read an anonymous wrote a saga on Quora on how he'd been put on PIP, fought back, got the same manager PIPed and eventually expelled from the company. So hypothetically you can opt to make it big and make the boss gain (un)necessary visibility(same for your wife) by a virtue of escalating the wrongdoing to a few levels above him/her. Same for HR - like to the HR director or similar. As double-edged sword it can either make the boss look inappropriate or cause your OH to become unemployable for a little while - depending on the industry.

If possible, change the team i.e. reporting structure to avoid that particular boss. If too late, then take the package and search for a greener pasture elsewhere - she won't enjoy the current toxic environment anyway. Take this as an opportunity for a career step. Can be painful in the beginning but will pan out well in a longer term. Or fight, but that's a war and forces are unbalanced.

cheers!
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Old 19.01.2017, 14:35
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

When you write, we are planning on fighting the rating directly, does this mean you will intervene yourself with your wife's employer?

A rational employer will not engage in a performance discussion with the spouse of an employee.

In your post you mention that your wife is already applying internally for US based positions, however you're happy and would like to stay here.

Perhaps now would be a good moment for your wife to take the initiative and ask what the supposed performance gaps are and what development the employer will offer to help close the gaps.
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Old 19.01.2017, 14:45
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

Suck it up, document every evidence you have of unfair behaviour, look for another job. I went through this myself, so I know. The documentation helped me get a good pay-off when I finally decided to involve HR.

The good news is that the people who decided that I should have a bad appraisal did not move on, and finally ended up being relocated out of Switzerland (it was either that, or be made redundant - and they'd made so many enemies and were so incompetent there was little chance of them finding another job). There's a word for how I feel about it - I don't know if it exists in German, but in English it is "Schadenfreude".
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Old 19.01.2017, 14:52
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

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A) may or may not be mobbing
B) if contesting it doesn't work, all that is left is to move on if one feels treated unfairly
C) self-perception and the perception of others' about ourselves and our work and behavior do not always fully align
D) many companies force departments to issue a certain number of bad ratings per x employees (bell curve distribution). I've personally seen negative ratings be assigned to people just because 'someone, anyone' was required to be the fallguy
E) one bad rating after several good ones and followed by good ones usually has zero consequences, unless of course it is specifically intended to move her out
Also, it could be that the peers simply perform better, resulting in a high standard.
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Old 19.01.2017, 15:07
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

as a swiss employee has just about zero rights and can be fired at any time with no reason given, you are fighting a losing cause, the only real question is does she want to be fired (and get the rav), or just find another job.

been through this with my wife, I don't quite understand the mentality of some employers given just how easy it is to fire people here, they would rather mob people out then just get rid of them
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Old 19.01.2017, 15:09
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

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Also, it could be that the peers simply perform better, resulting in a high standard.
Those peers badly wanting a promotion that OP's spouse already has, can be a possibility too also those grounded peers, neck in mortgages with kids in kindergartens, on a fluffy right for work, who would trade their kidneys to stay, can be tough contenders indeed. Too many options.
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:08
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

I'm assuming that she works for UBS? We're all in the same boat mate.
The following link might help (use Google translate if needed):

https://insideparadeplatz.ch/2016/12...icht-erfuellt/
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:12
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

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This part, at least, should not worry you. That's a pretty standard response to an internal job application that is unsuccessful and is very unlikely to be a personal response to your partner. Applying for internal job vacancies is generally seen as a good thing, indicating your desire to advance your career, nit that you're unhappy where you are.
A standard reply to a job application is: "we are happy to see you applying to other positions since you and your boss don't get along here"?

Yeah, erm... right.
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:17
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

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A standard reply to a job application is: "we are happy to see you applying to other positions since you and your boss don't get along here"?

Yeah, erm... right.
So you advised her to get an interim reference? Maybe she should conduct her own affairs
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:21
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

Such reviews can be are so demoralising... I hate them and the dreaded score out of 5. Of course they have their points but it's a fine line between constructive helpful criticism and promoting the sickening feeling of "what the hell am i doing here"

Very hard to handle it well... the vast majority of managers don't in my opinion.
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:58
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

It seems to me that her boss wants her out (and I am surprised that you haven't realized this yet).

There is not much you can do about it (fight it etc.)

Usually you can have 3 options imo:

- find a new job within the same company
- find a new job elsewhere
- resign and look for another job

Play along this process and allow them to fire her that would be the worst possible option.
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Old 19.01.2017, 18:21
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

Performance reviews have got to be one of the most major causes of bad feelings between employees.
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Old 19.01.2017, 18:29
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

Sorry, but I'm still not understanding why she's not asking herself .
Or is this a Man thing? (take a hint).
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Old 19.01.2017, 20:44
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

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I'm assuming that she works for UBS?
Sounds like Novartis.
The problem now is no hiring manager will use a highly valuable headcount taking on a person on her second PIP and scoring a 1:1 this year.

As the others said, get it all in writing and adhere to every point in the PIP, then hang on for redundancy whilst exploring all other avenues. You never know, the current manager may move on in a few months.
That also said, there's no smoke without fire, and many people have a much higher opinion of themselves than the reality.
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Old 19.01.2017, 20:59
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

I´d say: man up! Or rather "woman up" and talk to her supervisor (your wife that is)

She has a slight chance of knowing exactly why he reviewed her this way. And ask what she can improve and how. Normally these reviews have been seen by lots of other people before being discussed with the employee (my experience is that it is reviewed by HR, calibration meetings etc etc).

And in my experience threatening with lawyers, unions or whatever, in Switzerland does not really help. So let her ask her boss directly.
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Old 20.01.2017, 08:37
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Re: Unjust Performance Reviews

I suggest to talk to HR, talk to compliance office, call the speak up line. If she succeeds to start the compliance investigation of the manager then this would be a very good thing. I do think that the companies serve the managers and not the regular employees, but it is possible that her manager is not strong enough and wanted out by other managers. Then her case might have a chance. Try contacting the compliance office.

Oh, one more thing -- she was in the company for 6 years and probably knows some people who like her and happy with her work. Talk to them. Ask as many people as possible for advice, ask for help, they might suggest something.

Last edited by leonie; 20.01.2017 at 08:48.
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