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 that are inaccurate and unfair.
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.
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