Making sense of a feedback-free performance review

When you aren't getting any face time or feedback from your supervisor, it's up to you to get to the bottom of the situation

Dear Bob ...

Once again, the time for my annual performance review has come and gone without my receiving a performance review.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Bob reveals there might be an upside to having an absentee manager in "Can't get hold of your boss? Take advantage of the situation" | Get sage advice on IT careers and management from Bob Lewis in InfoWorld's Advice Line newsletter. ]

Oh, I got my raise and a written document that made a few very brief statements about how well I did.

But there was no face-to-face conversation, no in-depth exploration of what I can do to advance my career, and most important (to me), no discussion of the training I think I need to continue to progress in my profession.

I said "once again" because since I started working for this manager, I rarely get any face time at all. When I force the issue, he makes it quite clear I'm imposing on his busy schedule. When I try to bring up subjects like training, he waves it off as a distraction.

Any thoughts on how I can approach my manager so that he gives these issues the attention I think they deserve?

- Ignored

Dear Ignored ...

It appears your relationship with your manager is pretty straightforward. Either that's satisfactory or it isn't -- you'll have to decide that for yourself. But as for discovering a new and innovative approach that will turn him around, I don't think it's in the cards.

One thought I had was that the whole attend-training-offsite approach to skills enhancement seems to be winding down in favor of webcasts and webinars. They're not as effective, in my judgment, but they cost so much less that it hardly matters.

So you might consider changing your approach to requesting more training away from formal events, instead signing up for appropriate free webinars and asking for permission to sign up for paid ones that seem relevant and valuable.

For the rest, the only avenues you have left would be to either take advantage of your employer's open door policy (assuming it has one) to talk to your manager's manager about your concerns or to ask an appropriate individual in Human Resources for advice and possible intervention.

One more thing: You might consider asking some of your peers what their performance reviews were like -- not the contents, but the style. If your manager treats everyone this way, the issue is that he doesn't handle this responsibility well. If you're the only one, it's time to start the process of finding a different manager to work for, either within your current employer or for a different company.

If it's just you, the only question is when your manager decides it's time to make a change -- "whether" has already been decided.

- Bob

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