How To Overcome A Bad Performance Review

Robin Schwartz

How To Overcome A Bad Performance Review

Performance reviews are processes in place at companies to make sure staff know when they are and are not performing well. Many of us like to think that we do our job well. Just remember that a performance review is generally the opinion(s) of another person, not yourself.

Receiving negative feedback on your performance can lead to uncertainty in your job as well as concern for its future. Being on the receiving end of a bad review isn’t necessarily the end of your career. It can be room for you to improve.

Do Not Panic

When faced with a bad performance review, employees should avoid becoming immediately defensive.

You may be feeling criticized or unjustly evaluated, but responding with anger or insubordinate behavior will not help your case. Instead, take a deep breath and really try to listen to the feedback you are receiving.

There is no way you can overcome a bad performance review through a verbal argument. Ask clarifying questions and for specific examples to help you understand the reasons behind their assessment so you can figure out your next step.

Schedule Self-Reflection

Take time to review the commentary you received from your manager and try to do so as unbiasedly as possible. It is still easy to look at the situation and want to disagree and plead our cases.

Look at your performance from your supervisor’s point of view. Is it possible they received any negative feedback from co-workers or clients? Did you regularly fail to communicate deadlines or project timelines with your manager?

Once you have considered your own failings, ask for a follow up meeting to discuss not what the issues are, but how you can best address the concerns in your performance.

Let your supervisor know that you will be developing a plan to remedy the issues he/she brought to your attention and wish to meet at regular intervals to ensure both parties are pleased with the improvements.

Develop SMART Goals

Developing sound goals is critical for managing your performance. A SMART goal is defined as one that is:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

Take it upon yourself to create these goals around the areas you need to improve in as well as those you are haven’t received negative feedback for. Present the goals to your supervisor in one of the scheduled follow-up sessions you arranged and ask for his/her input.

The SMART goals will be useful in the coming year to ensure you are staying on track with the work expectations both you and your supervisor agreed to. During the next formal review period, you will also have a unit against which you can measure your improvement and quantify the results of your work.

Work On Your Communication

A poor performance review may be the result of a supervisor that just does not know what you have achieved over the last year. Many workers are hesitant to come off as boastful or arrogant to their employers, and, when that happens, may fail to highlight their achievements at all.

Track projects, deadlines or quotas and provide these updates to your boss either in regular meetings or at review sessions. Be honest and talk about the hardships you face to make things happen. Your supervisor will respect that you endured some obstacles along the way.

Enlist Help

Improving your performance at work may not be something you can do all on your own.

Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from your supervisor or colleagues when it is appropriate. If part of your workload is reliant on another colleague to complete their portion first, talk with them. You might be able to determine if you can change the workflow or decrease the time it takes to hand things off.

If your colleague isn’t being helpful, make sure your supervisor knows. Your poor performance isn’t the fault of anyone else. If you are being held responsible for missing deadlines you can’t possibly keep, it’s important to share that.

Don’t hesitate to talk to your supervisor or colleagues about useful professional development opportunities that might improve your skills.

Taking a proactive approach to honing your abilities will show your supervisor that you are serious about making improvements. Reaching out to colleagues for help as well will tell your supervisor that you aren’t ashamed to acknowledge you have room to improve.

Technology may be able to help in some cases as well.

If the negative feedback you have received is related to behaviors that can be easily fixed like tardiness, you can make immediate changes to fix the issue.

Example: Add another alarm to your phone if you often sleep through the first or add reminders to your calendar if you have an issue with arriving late to work or meetings.

Receiving a poor performance review can be a stressful and scary situation for many people.

It is also a good opportunity to make improvements in your work style, communication or skills that you may not have otherwise adjusted. Keep a clear head and focus on the positive developments that can come from the situation.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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