DEAR AMY: I was recently blindsided by a horrible annual review. I do well at my job and have never had any indication from any of my co-workers or superiors that I was disliked, or that I did not perform my duties. My review was conducted by my direct supervisor, who I’ve always suspected does not like me. She is cold to me in a way that she is not with others, and even after a year she still calls me by another co-worker’s name (specifically, the only other woman in our office of the same ethnicity as me). I’m at a loss as to how to react. The review said I was lacking and difficult. I flat-out do not agree. I do not think going above my supervisor will help. What can I do?
DEAR REVIEWED: There should be a mechanism at your workplace for responding to this review, and in your case, strongly disputing the review’s findings. If the conclusions drawn in this document are incorrect or have no basis in fact, and if the review offers no supporting evidence or data, then you really must dispute it.
You should meet with your supervisor and — in as open a way as you can, ask for examples of negative aspects, as well as guidance for how you might improve your performance. If your supervisor isn’t willing (or able) to offer you examples and concrete suggestions, then you should document your side of this and take it to HR to add to your personnel file.
You imply that your supervisor is being (at least) passively racist in continuing to refer to you by the name of the only other person in your office who shares your ethnicity. This is serious and (if true), she needs her performance evaluated, big time.
DEAR AMY: I live out of state from my family, and have for years. Christmas has become an icky time of year for me. All my siblings want to exchange gifts. I seldom travel home for the holidays, so I end up shopping and shipping gifts. This used to be fun for me but nearly every year for the past 10 years I’m left feeling bad because my siblings, nieces and nephews (and even my parents) do not acknowledge my gifts. It seems they are interested in including me before the holidays, but then I do not hear from them afterward. Then two or three weeks later a box of gifts arrives. Typically this box is full of stuff I do not need (and stale candy). I am inclined to let everyone know that I am not participating in Christmas this year and why. I would much rather see my money and energy go toward gifts or food for the needy. Your thoughts?
Tired of the Game
DEAR TIRED: It is reasonable for you to opt out of the gift exchange — or at least change it on your end so that you feel relieved of some of the pressure.
You should let your family members know well in advance. Start by thanking them for their gifts in the past, and tell them that this year you’re going to make a family donation and not send material gifts and that you hope they choose to do the same with you. A card exchange might be just as meaningful for all of you.
DEAR AMY: I was so glad to read the request by “Domestic Worker” for a gift of cash instead of expensive-to-maintain clothing. Like many working mothers, I also employ a fabulous domestic worker whom I love, trust, and depend on tremendously. She has worked for me nearly 10 years. Last year it came to me that in all that time, I had never given her a raise. How many of us would go eight years without a cost-of-living raise? After rectifying the situation, she confessed to me that most of her employers don’t recognize that without a raise, she is actually losing money over time. Last month, she had a surgical procedure that required her to take six weeks of recovery time. I contacted her other employers and we contributed to provide her with some sick leave (as most employers would for their employees). This working population does not have an HR team to look out for their rights, so it is important that we remain mindful of them. Thank you for providing a forum for this often-underserved population!
DEAR GRATEFUL: You sound like a good employer.