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Career Management

Dispute Poor Performance Appraisal

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DATE:  January 15, 20––

TO:  Michael Bond

CC:  David Johansen, Kathy Richardson

FROM:  Barbara Howard

SUBJECT:  My contributions to Silicon Valley, Inc.

I have completed in-depth discussions with the people you recommended, and I would like to summarize what I've heard and realized, my beliefs about what I need to do, and evidence of constructive actions taken since my poor performance review. Please consider these factors in the decision whether outplacement is appropriate.

Issues for improvement noted by manufacturing managers:

Excessive analysis or "perfecting," leading to low productivity.

Errors in prioritizing goals and conflicting inputs.

Inadequate communication with team members and supervisor.
My realizations and convictions following recent interviews:

In 20––, my contribution to Silicon Valley, Inc. was not acceptable either to me or to you. I need to:

Take the initiative to identify changes which will make a tangible difference in the product line;

Be tenacious in causing these effects to be realized in a minimal time period;

Create closer linkage with our team and management to achieve a consensus about priorities and my agenda;

Focus my 15 years of experience on judging the shortest path to effective results; and

Avoid unnecessary diversions from the key commitments.


January 15, 20––
Page Two
What I have addressed and changed since my last review:

An example of productivity and avoiding "perfecting" is four completed Engineering Change Order releases of all KKD, Checkout, and Product Acceptance procedures of SEMI and T-Systems, as the products have evolved through trials, controlled release, and first production. These were on time, easier to use, and have credibility with the Checkout Technicians because they were heavily involved in the development. There were few errors noted in recent audit.

Toward improving communication and prioritizing, I initiated "On-Target" objective tracking, as well as weekly "defect resolution" meetings with Checkout and team engineers/designers. Defect diagnosis and elimination, training, and cooperation are the goals.

In the area of responsiveness to varied inputs, my role as Product Engineer for review and classification of all SEMI-2 Engineering Change Orders has been executed with quick turn-around times and concise recommendations to originators.
There is no doubt of my error in failing to confront the issues of my review more widely. Whereas I consulted only Jim Thomas, Bill Randolph, and certain SEMI-2 team members, I would have done better to work with you and the managers recently interviewed. However, the issues have been addressed in earnest over the last six months and I feel that substantive corrections have already begun. Based on recent candid feedback from my teammates and manager, I feel comfortable in recommending their opinions to you as evidence of improved contribution.

My ability to change certain behaviors:

Some course corrections have occurred, Mike, but we both know that behavioral changes are evolutionary and progress slowly, if they happen at all. However, I'd like to offer some evidence of meaningful change which came unexpectedly in the recent interviews. In discussing some positive attributes, a number of managers used words like "personable," "well-liked," or "easy to get along with." This was good news to me because a key Area-For-Improvement in my early years at Silicon Valley, Inc. was "interpersonal skills." I'm suggesting that this behavior has been altered enough to be no longer an issue.

In summary, Mike, I believe that my level of contribution has improved visibly this year and that most members of my team would agree. I hope you will consider recent performance in your decision.

Wishing you well,

Barbara Howard
Project Engineer


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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.