News Article

CAREER TIPS - 5 Steps To Deal With A Bad Performance Review

Posted 14th December 2022 • Written by Caroline Castrillon on •

A bad performance review isn’t the end of the world.

Of course, it’s never fun to be on the receiving end of a bad performance review.

Here are five steps to deal with a bad performance review.

Give yourself time to process your feelings

Dealing with a negative performance evaluation is like any grieving process. The first phase is to let yourself feel the pain and disappointment. Then, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

Did my manager have any valid points?

Is this review typical or an anomaly?

What, if anything, can I improve for next time?

Does my boss have my best interests in mind?

If this bad review is a one-time occurrence, there may be a chance to work with your manager on making improvements for next year. But, on the other hand, if it's a pattern, it may signal that you're not the right fit for the job or the team. And if you sense that your boss isn’t looking out for your best interests, it might be time to consider another role altogether.

Get feedback from other parties

Sometimes, there’s a disparity between how we see ourselves and how others see us. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask trusted mentors, coaches, colleagues and others you trust who know you well for feedback. Make sure they understand that you’re looking for honesty, not consolation. Try not to be defensive and remove your emotions from the equation. Also, paraphrase and ask follow-up questions if necessary to understand the feedback. Then make sure to thank them for their comments.

Prepare a written response

Think through the additional questions you want to ask your boss and write them down. If you disagree with the review, prepare a response with specific examples and supporting points. On the other hand, if you decide that the feedback is valid, acknowledge it and create a performance improvement plan for next year. The plan doesn’t have to follow a formal template—just a simple presentation outlining the steps you will take to develop professionally.

Schedule a follow-up meeting

It’s always wise to schedule a follow-up meeting after a bad performance review. At that point, ask your manager any clarifying questions. Then, present your case (if you disagree) or your improvement plan (if you find that your manager has legitimate points). Involve them in the discussion so that they feel part of the solution. If you conduct the meeting professionally and respectfully, it can set the tone for a productive working relationship moving forward.

Set clear career goals

Whether you agree with the feedback or not, it’s time to establish clear professional goals. A career without goals is like going on a journey without a map or GPS. You won't know where you are, let alone where you are going. Consider short-term (six months to three years) and long-term (three years or more) career targets. Make sure your goals are actionable, measurable and realistic. In addition, they should be challenging—achievable yet ambitious. Then remember to remain flexible. Success isn't a straight line, and it's essential to be open to the possibilities.

Remember, it’s not what happens but how you handle it. A bad performance review isn’t the end of the world. It might just mean that it’s time to change jobs, pivot careers, or even start a business. Most importantly, don’t let it rattle your self-confidence. If you handle it in the right way, you can turn a seemingly negative event into a very positive career move.

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