Question: “During my yearly, my manager told me that I was disrespectful and unresponsive. I asked for specific examples, but he didn’t provide any. This discussion took place in a restaurant, because our office recently closed and we are all working from home.
“When I didn’t respond to his comments, my boss went on a tirade for over thirty minutes, despite the fact that we were in a public place. He said that he will not tolerate my lack of respect any longer and that if I don’t change my attitude, I will probably be laid off when we merge with another team.
“He then said he was doing me a favor by not putting these remarks in writing. I told him I would rather have them included in my review, but he refused. Now I’m really scared, because I can’t afford to lose my job in this economy. I feel sick to my stomach and can’t sleep. What should I do?” Worried
Answer: A barrage of criticism does not constitute a performance review, so your boss’s outburst was completely inappropriate. However, if you are dependent on your paycheck, remaining employed must be your first priority. Since your office has already closed and your team is being downsized, your future security is clearly in jeopardy.
If you know exactly which behaviors push your manager’s “disrespectful” hot button, then you must immediately stop doing those things. Consciously continuing to aggravate him would be stupid and self-destructive. But if you’re completely clueless, pick a calm moment and try to find out what’s bothering him.
For example: “I really want to be viewed as a good employee, but I honestly don’t know what I’m doing that seems disrespectful. What could I do differently to get a better performance review next year?” Listen carefully to his answer without debating or arguing.
If your manager still fails to provide any useful advice, ask your co-workers for some feedback. If certain people get along well with him, observe them closely and adopt their approach.
Your manager didn’t want these critical comments in the official record, so he might just be blowing off steam. But since you can’t rely on that, your short-term goal should be to make any changes that will help you keep your job. Your long-term goal may be to find a better boss.