Preparing a direct & delivering a review score I was over-ridden on.

BLUF: How do I prepare for and deliver a review when I don't agree with the score?  (The policy is to spread the scores out across a bell curve.  My score is being over-ridden by the company.)  I want to restate that the behavior we had already talked about was wrong and what the direct needs to do going forward.  But I think the score is way, way too harsh!  I don't know what to say if directly asked about the score.

If the direct challenges me on how I could overlook all the great technical work (and he does some great things) for this, I'm not sure what I can say.  I think it is way too harsh.  BUT I have to back up the company and my name is the one on the review!  My only thought is to refocus discussion on the issues and the behavior I require - not the score.

I've told my staff about the bell curve policy so that isn't a surprise.  I had given him a sub-acceptable score on quarterly reviews and have been messaging that.  But my score is being lowered to the lowest level possible.

I've been told by my manager that it will be impossible to change their minds because they need a certain percentage at that lowest level.  Even trying to argue for him will get me in serious trouble.  This direct angered some people above and is now going to pay for it - big time!  BUT I can't say that!

I also think I'm going to have to start laying the ground work for this now.  That is going to seem odd because it is something that is months old and I've already done 2 quarterly reviews with scores that are higher than the final will be.  But I've got to do something to let it not be a surprise to him.


Technical acumen is not sufficient...

> This direct angered some people above and

> is now going to pay for it - big time!  BUT I can't say that!

MsSunshine, it appears you already stated what you need to pre-wire the review--you have also taken intermediate steps on the quarterly reviews.. If I understand what you write above then you have a skilled person on your team who must improve their people skills.  Further, even if you have objective criteria by which you can (or have) conveyed to your boss and make your case were still overruled. 

I would be ready for pushback in the review and have a prepared list of improvement steps. I would not engage in an argument over the score during the performance review.

I have issues with a similar

I have issues with a similar situation. Year-end reviews, linked to future raises, are around the corner. I have diligently maintained documentation about each direct's performance improvements, and failings. However, upper management handed me my directs year-end ratings without taking my feedback into consideration about the ratings and as a result some will end with no raises and I being their manager too end up with a low raise. What needs to be done in such a situation ? Grin and bear it ? 

Incomplete Information

Hmmm. If I understand correctly your team's salaries were set without your input.

Is it possible the salary guidance may be directly attributable to the current economic climate? Have you used the "bucket method" in the past with your directs' salaries or have you awarded blanket percentage increases?

Yes, my inputs were not

Yes, my inputs were not considered. We have this 'ivory tower' management team who decide on individual ratings and which are pushed down to lower rung managers like myself. The salary guidance, though driven by the economic situation is category driven based on the ratings (A = Best, B = Good etc). So if a direct gets a C and her current salary is in the last section of the rating, she gets no raise.