update: my boss retaliated against my in my performance evaluation after I talked to H.R.

Remember the reader whose boss had retaliated in his performance review after he talked to HR about being written up for an absence during Hurricane Sandy? Here’s his update.

This tale actually has a happy ending; it’s just not the ending I would have wished for when I wrote to you back in January.

I did end up receiving a raise, but it was smaller than it had been in previous years. I don’t know if that was because of my horrible review score or because the company was being less generous than usual with raises for everyone.

I settled into my new group and a few months went by with nothing interesting happening until one Friday morning I got a phone call from my boss’ boss. “Could you meet with me in Conference Room 3?” It was unusual for Big Boss to contact me but I figured she wanted to know about a project I was working on so I locked up and was walking away from my desk when I got another call from her. “Um, could you bring your badge and your purse with you?”

At that point it dawned on me that I would not be returning to my desk after this meeting!

Turns out that 200 people were let go that day because my (now former) employer lost a couple of major clients. Only two of those people were in-house medical coders and I was one of them. Was it because of that review? My gut feeling says that it may have well been, but I guess I’ll never know for sure.

Remember the happy ending I mentioned earlier? In the end, whoever was responsible for my being laid off actually did me a favor. I got a generous severance package, so I knew that I wouldn’t have undue financial hardship while I job hunted. Then, within six weeks, I landed a job as a remote coder for a large hospital system, making more per hour than I did at my former job. Working from home is kind of the Holy Grail for medical coders so I am thrilled with my new circumstances and actually find myself being thankful that things turned out the way they did.

{ 32 comments… read them below }

  1. Adam V

    I’m glad it worked out for you, OP! That was such a crappy situation to be in, and it’s great that you’ve moved on to a much better opportunity!

  2. Ruffingit

    It stinks that you had to go through the mess that you did to get fair treatment, but right on for the better job. Love hearing the happy endings!

  3. Anon Accountant

    Glad it worked out for you. Sorry to read about the mess that you had to undergo to get better treatment but it’s great to read that you got a better job. These happy endings to reader’s issues are great.

    :)

  4. thenoiseinspace

    Slightly off-topic but I’m curious: whenever I refer to my boss’s boss, I call him/her my “grandboss” (like my mother’s mother is my grandmother.) Does anyone else do this?

    Congrats to the OP – glad it worked out well!

    1. Garrett

      I say the big boss since she is the head of the global department I work in. Above that, you get into VPs and CEOs and what not (lots of managerial levels where I work).

      I do like grandboss, although mine is around my age and it feels slightly awkward!

    2. Brandy

      My boss’s boss is the head of our business unit (and an EVP of something-or-other), so internally, I refer to him by name. To those that don’t know my company, I say “The Boss” versus “my boss”

    3. MJ

      My boss’ boss is a woman in her mid-40s (and someone I’m very close to) who I suspect wouldn’t be very happy if I called her my ‘grandboss’ ;) Love the term, though!

    4. Bluesapphires

      I do with my friends much to their amusement. I even go up to my great-great-grandboss (aka my group’s senior director).

    5. Nonny Mouse

      I do that! I also refer to my grand-manager’s other direct reports as Uncle/Aunt Manager, and their reports as Cousin $jobtitle.

      Not in a professional context, mind you, but if I’m chatting about work in a casual setting, sure :)

  5. Ann Furthermore

    I’m really glad things worked out so well here. I had a performance evaluation similar to the OP’s: many negative comments, but all about very subjective things. It was given by a new manager, and he and I had clashed from the very start. During the review it was clear that he’d been awaiting our meeting in gleeful anticipation. It was full of criticism, but none in very urgent need of correction since he had never mentioned any of these things to me in the 6 months I’d been working for him.

    He told me I was getting defensive, I replied by explaining that’s how I react when I’m attacked. He said he wasn’t attacking me, and I offered to go find a dictionary and look up the word “attack” for him, since he clearly had no idea what he meant. He said he didn’t appreciate my attitude, I said I didn’t appreciate his and that I refused to sit there and abide any further character assassination, since I was 8 months pregnant and the stress being caused by that meeting was probably not good for my unborn child. Then I left. Clearly, not my most shining moment.

    I went to HR, and they pretty much refused to do anything at all. I talked to the VP of my area, and he basically said, “Well, he’s the manager, so what he said must be true.” It didn’t help that the VP had some sort of man-crush on my boss, since my boss had played football for the VP’s alma mater. I wrote up a lengthy rebuttal, refuting every one of his accusations, but nothing ever came of it.

    That’s when I learned that HR really is not there to look out for you. In almost every case, they will side with management, unless presented with evidence of pretty egregious violations of an ethical or legal issue.

    1. Adrienne

      Hi Ann,

      I hope the baby is doing well! I had some very stressful situations when I was pregnant myself and ended up emotional at work way more than I should have been.

      I do want to say, that as a manager, performance reviews (particularly tough ones) are never fun. And none of the managers I have ever known or worked with have gleefully waited for the opportunity to have a tough conversation.

      A friend of mine once told me to be open to feedback because, regardless of how we feel about ourselves, when someone is giving us feedback, that’s their perspective of reality – which makes it just as realistic as our perspective.

      I find keeping those two things in mind: 1) that managers don’t like having tough conversations and 2) their perspective is their reality and we should try to see the world through their lens to grow and develop, really help keep me grounded when getting feedback.

      Hope this helps and that your current work environment is better and you are thriving as a mom! Best, Adrienne

        1. Jamie

          That was uncalled for.

          Alison has always fostered a comment section where people can disagree, but there is no need for personal insults – it shuts down the dialogue and a nasty tone isn’t helpful for anyone.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I didn’t read it as smug at all — although maybe it’s because Adrienne said what I would have said had I responded myself. In any case, you’re welcome to disagree with other commenters here, but please do it in a pleasant and civil way. Because I really don’t enjoy weighing in from my honeymoon, as I’m currently doing. Thank you.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        My daughter is now 4, so this was quite was awhile back. I was able to move into another department, doing the kind of work I’d wanted to get back into. So it all worked out for the best.

        I only worked for this guy for about 6 months and I really did try to see things from his point of view because he’d only ever known me pregnant, and like you said, I was much more emotional than normal. In fact a few times during the course of our working relationship we butted heads a few times and I ended up in tears, and apologized to him, and he actually was pretty understanding about it, saying he’d been through 2 pregnancies with his wife.

        What was so upsetting about that review was that it was full of things that were either not true or unsubstantiated. He said many people came to him to complain about me but refused to give any examples, even when I said he didn’t have to use any names. He claimed I didn’t communicate with him to let him know what I was working on, but when I went through my email later I found over 250 sent to him over 6 months, which was an average of 2 per day…not even including ones he was copied on. So how is that poor communication? When I pointed this, and more, out to HR, they didn’t care. When I just asked, “So my manager can just say whatever he wants in my review, true or not, and there’s no expectation that he should be able to support his claims? And if I’m such an awful employee why did he not once talk to me about any of this? Not even a 5 minute conversation?” I pretty much got a blank stare. And when I pressed it and asked, “Really? That’s how we treat people here?” I again got no answer.

        I’ve never been treated so shabbily by a manager, before or since.

      2. Ann Furthermore

        And it’s also worth mentioning that many other people in the group had similar experiences with this guy.

        1. MaryTerry

          Makes you wonder what you could possibly do that you weren’t already doing. Was he looking for some key phrases that you weren’t using? “Boss, following is my daily update status report” or did he just decide that you weren’t doing a good job because he didn’t like your earrings, or you reminded him of some dufus he knew in high school.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            Actually, I did figure it out much later. I believe that he was given a very one-sided view of the team before he ever met anyone. The higher ups in the department had very unrealistic expectations. The company had done 3 acquisitions in the past couple years, and yet no additional headcount was approved, nor was any investment made in tools that would have helped us streamline processes and improve efficiency to help accommodate the spiking workloads. The answer to any request for help was to simply work more hours. So I think that this manager was told he was inheriting a team of slackers.

            Now, it’s very easy for any of us to say that we would reserve judgement and draw our own conclusions without letting anyone else’s opinions cloud our perceptions, but how many of us would really be able to do that? I couldn’t, and I’m pretty sure that manager was not able to either.

            In an interesting follow-up, after I moved to another department I ended up having to work with him very closely on a large project. Working with him as a peer was a completely different experience, and I even got a very stammering, hesitiant, roundabout apology from him.

            He left the company a couple years later, and my friends still in the department told me that his attitude did a 180, literally overnight. One day he was the VP and Director’s puppet, parroting every single thing they said, and the next day it was a completely different story. It was early in the year, so the theory was that he’d gotten his annual review, and received the same treatment everyone else got: no matter how hard you’d worked during the year, no matter how many hours you’d put in, no matter how much you’d accomplished, it was never *quite* enough. So he decided he’d had enough, and moved on.

            So we did fashion a truce, of a sort, but it still rankles because it was wrong, and no one called him out for filling my performance review with libelous statements.

      3. hmmm

        Adrienne,

        There are many perceptions that are warped and we don’t help ourselves by trying to see things their way. In fact we can drive ourselves crazy, even invite abuse, by trying too hard to accept all perceptions. And just because you have never encountered an evil manager who gleefully attacks does not mean they don’t exist or even may be common.

        And your opinion is not even based on one side of the incident, but rather your experience.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          What made me believe that performance review was nothing but an ambush was the fact that he didn’t even bother to update the Word document from the year before. The dates were still from the previous year, and he hadn’t even updated it to replace my old boss’s name with his own. So he didn’t even care enough about the process to give it the time and consideration it deserved.

  6. Elizabeth West

    Yay!! Congratulations on the new, way better job, OP!

    The layoff may not have been because of the PIP, especially if the other coder was let go also. But you don’t have to ever talk to that jerkwad again. :D

  7. Bea W

    Hooray! You were likely laid off because 200 people were laid off, but who cares why. It sounds like the best thing that could have happened!

    I had a Grandboss who was known for re-writing the performance reviews of people she had it in for. I was one of those people. My supervisor wrote my review, and Grandboss (more like Grandb***h) rewrote it in terrible ways. That was my first and only bad review. At the time it happened, I was already looking for another job because I was so miserable I sometimes wished I would get laid off. I was out of there a couple months later. *phew*

  8. Nicole

    I’m wondering whether the OP would be willing to speak to me about Medical Coding/Billing. It’s a career I’ve been considering but wanted an idea from someone who does it what it’s really like.

  9. kim

    i received a PIP which is retaliation from things i will push back higher level but does it help to put in the detail on that they gained the audit over a longer period of time versus how others are treated.

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