You graduated from university and sighed with relief -- you would never be graded again. How is it that you were not warned of this elusive yearly meeting where you are motioned into a room and told why you are or are not the shining beacon among your peers. The culmination of your yearly accomplishments in a company or lack thereof make up the backbone of your yearly performance review. It is indeed frustrating to see a bad performance review and while it does not necessarily mean you are getting fired it is not something to be brushed under the carpet. It is time to plan attentively what you do next especially if you feel you received unfair feedback on your work performance. Good planning must precede action and we are here to tell you how with ticklemybrain’s ten-step guide on how to deal with a bad performance review:
1. dropping bombs: It might be your poor time management skills, failure to keep up with project deadlines or inability to deal with your annoying coworkers. After your boss delivers the bad news, don’t be angry, argumentative or defensive. Listen to the reasons behind the verdict and ask questions to clarify any points that you feel were vague or that you were misjudged on. Request specific examples about each point and specific incidences where you have performed poorly or neglected a task. Doing so helps when preparing your counter evidence for a second review meeting. If you receive the bad news in written form prior to being called in for the first meeting then take advantage of the time given to you. Research company policies on how to respond to a negative performance review because often enough, companies offer comprehensive HR documentation (in your company handbook or website) on how to respond appropriately.
2. all about the defense: Don’t sit back and take undeserved criticism (granted that it is undeserved). Show your boss that you are taking his or her review seriously and that you want to improve because you care about your job. Explain your point of view logically and calmly without attacking your coworkers should they be involved in your mess. Acknowledge the notes that are true, and back the untrue points with FACTS not emotions. Always remember to ask the following armor question when you enter the review session: “Do you feel that [the mistake you referenced] [pulling my colleague’s hair when she questioned the accuracy of my excel analysis] has overshadowed all of my other work for the past review period?" Remember that you will be setting up a follow up meeting so don’t blurt out everything that comes to mind during this initial sit down.
3. review the review: Immediately after leaving the meeting, evaluate all that was said. Be honest with yourself, was your boss right about you? Is the problem professional or personal? Is it stemming from your performance on the job or your boss being jealous of your incredible hair? Were you judged on tasks that were assigned to you towards the end of the review period or according to the initial plan agreed to at the beginning of the year?
4. does everyone hate me: Don’t stop at the judgment of one person. Ask your clients, when appropriate, how they evaluate your work with them, your strong/weak points in handling their projects and how you can serve them better. Ask your coworkers and other senior managers about how they view your work and overall performance on both team and solo efforts. Most companies require employees to receive feedback from the overseeing manager following every engagement. Do not pass up these chances as holding a collection of past reviews will come to your benefit on judgment day.
5. and so we meet again: Nothing can be solved in the heat of the moment. The preferred option of career coaches is calling for a second meeting to clarify the review or accusations with your boss. As much as you don’t want another confrontation, talking about the problem(s) is the best way to solve it. Take your time to prepare for the second meeting (having collected your notes from point three and four), but don’t wait more than a week or two, as your boss will have moved on past your review. Get your facts ready, preferably in the form of written evidence. Collect dates and times of project completions and anything that will help show the positive contributions you have made towards your company. Maybe he or she forgot how you brought the entire team Krispy Kreme donuts that one morning last February.
6 pretty performance plan: Even if this second meeting does not end with your boss setting into motion a performance plan, you should take the initiative yourself if you care about maintaining let alone progressing at your job. Most companies have performance plan processes documented and structured into a system you simply need to follow – if it exists take advantage of it. Technical Issues: If your main problem is related to a specific tool or skill that you lack or need to improve, enroll in courses and attend workshops. Don’t hesitate to ask senior management if the company’s budget facilitates paying for specific employee trainings. This also translates your dedication and serious attitude about improving. Behavioral Issues: If the issue is more behavioral, your boss complains about you being constantly late to work or taking three-hour cigarette breaks, then please try to restrain your behavior by acting professional.
7. time yourself: Some reviews give time for change such as a 30 or 60-day plan. If not, set your own time plan to accomplishing your goal. Ask your boss to mark a follow up meeting a couple of weeks after the initiation of the performance plan. This would be a good chance to try to understand what is expected from you in case the workload piles up and you lose focus of what is important. Then, set a time to discuss progress, maybe a mid-year review would be a good idea.
8. highlight your improvement: It is time to collect and keep the evidence, starting immediately after your meeting with your boss. You need to document your road to improvement. It would help to keep a work diary in this situation to keep track of the things you do at the office. For example, you can write down your mistakes and how you handled them and successes that are worth highlighting when you are in for your next performance review.
9. an era of revolutions: Still think your boss judged you unfairly? If you consider your review to have been prejudiced, biased, untrue or all of the above, your next recourse would be seeking the help of senior management or the HR department. Before taking action however, ask colleagues that have been with the company for a long time about the precedence of such occurrences. Was there any action taken against the revolutionists?
10. don’t leave us just yet: Do not quit from one bad performance review. A bad review does not mean that it is time for you to start looking for a new job. However, some performance reviews are indeed there to tell you, “We are not sure you still fit our team, but we still appreciate the effort that you put to improve”. If you find that all your efforts to improve are going unnoticed and underappreciated, then it sure is your signal to leave. It may be time that you started looking for another company that will offer you a fresh start and appreciate your new work attitude and skills.
Keep in mind that bosses come and go and so do jobs – it is not the end of the world to be formally criticized at work. Remember when you received that horrible grade at university and thought your world was falling apart - you still graduated from university and worked through the storm. ticklemybrain enjoys the words of Winston Churchill and reminds you that “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Content Sources (1) how do I deal with a negative performance review? (2) how to handle a negative review (3) how to recover from a bad performance review (4) can you redeem yourself after a bad review at work?