Poor Performance Review May Stop Job Transfer – Ask #HR Bartender

I know there’s lots of talk about changing the traditional performance appraisal process. One of the things that has to be addressed is how the annual performance review impacts other things. Like employee transfers – as today’s reader note points out.

Dear Sharlyn, I’m hoping you can help me with this situation. I had my year-end performance review conversation with my manager. It seemed fine with two areas of improvement mentioned but nothing alarming per my manager. I did not receive a written appraisal at that time.

A couple weeks later, I told my manager that I was requesting a transfer to another department. After that, my manager gave me my written performance appraisal, which appeared more critical than our original conversation. Meanwhile, my transfer request was accepted and I was “unofficially” offered the position.

Now I’m concerned that my current manager gave me a more critical written performance review as a form of retaliation because I applied for a transfer. And that my new manager will read what my current manager wrote and withdraw the transfer offer.

Should I prepare a rebuttal or simply state that I disagree with the performance appraisal? I really appreciate any advice you can give. Thank you.

There are so many things we don’t know about this situation that it’s impossible to give a definitive answer. We don’t know how the company typically processes performance reviews. Or what the two areas of improvement were that the employee needed to work on. And did the employee agree that those areas needed improvement.

We also don’t know what the company policy is regarding transfers. I’ve worked at organizations where an unsatisfactory performance review could stop an employee transfer. It wasn’t because of retaliation. It was the feeling that an employee with performance issues should not be able to take those issues to a new department. It wasn’t considered fair.

For example, let’s say an employee has an attendance issue. They show up five minutes late for work every day. It might not seem like a big deal, but that five minutes impacts the team getting started on their work. The employee’s current manager has coached them on this issue. Could the current manager approve the employee’s transfer request? Absolutely. But they’d be passing along that lateness issue to the employee’s new department and manager. So, many organizations will say that an employee’s performance must be satisfactory in order for a transfer to be approved.

On the other hand, I’ve worked in organizations where as long as the receiving department was willing to accept the employee transfer knowing the performance issues existed, then it was fine. The new manager was aware that they were going to be responsible for coaching the new employee. Using the same example above, maybe the employee transfer would allow the employee to start work thirty-minutes later and fix the tardiness issue. Everyone knows it, so the transfer is approved.

Employee transfer policies are typically defined by the organization. And they should be communicated to employees so they understand the criteria and process. Employees want to know how they can create a future with the company, that includes promotions and transfers.

Performance review processes are also typically defined by the organization. They also should be communicated because employees want to know how their performance is going to be measured. It should also include what to do if an employee doesn’t agree with their review or what managers should do if they need to change a rating.

Performance reviews serve many purposes in the organization. It’s important for companies to establish what performance management means to them AND communicate it to all employees. And managers need to consistently apply it to all of their employees.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while wandering the Wynwood District in Miami, FL