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7 Steps to Take After a Bad Performance Review

No one likes receiving a bad performance review. It’s especially tough if you weren’t expecting the negative feedback.
bad performance review
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Although it might be difficult to know how to move forward, that’s exactly what you need to do. How you handle this will make a world of difference.

1. Recognize it as a beginning.

Reviews are often meant to serve as feedback about your performance over the course of a year or longer, so it’s easy to think of them as an ending. But, it’s essential that you see this review as the beginning of a process instead.

You can use this experience as you move forward. Learn from it (not just about yourself, but about your employer as well) and make some changes accordingly.

2. Reflect and reconsider.

One thing you definitely do not want to do after a difficult review is react too quickly. Take time to let your emotions settle down before you do anything at all. You should be able to evaluate the review with a little more objectivity after some time has passed.

Take some quiet time on your own to reflect on the evaluation and carefully reconsider it. Is the criticism you received unjustified or is there something valuable and relevant that you can take away from the feedback?

[Read about the 7 worst things that happen during performance reviews.]

3. Look for blind spots.

Even if you don’t recognize yourself in the review, that doesn’t mean that it’s inaccurate. We all have natural blind spots where our own performance is concerned.

Other people can sometimes help us see ourselves more accurately. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague, someone who will be honest with you, to get another opinion. Make it clear that you’re counting on their honesty and candor. Then, be open to hearing whatever they have to say.

4. Resolve any confusion.

Take some time to be sure you really understand your review before deciding how to proceed. After you’ve invested some energy into this process, you might find yourself feeling a little confused about a point or two. If that’s the case, consider scheduling a quick meeting with your boss to ask a few questions. Asking for an example or two of specific critiques can be a great way to gain some clarity. Just be careful about your tone. You don’t want to make it seem like you’re challenging the review.

A bad performance review can feel like the end of the world ... but it can be an opportunity.Click To Tweet

5. Draw your own conclusions.

Once you’ve put real effort into sincere self-reflection, it’s time to come to some conclusions about your review. Decide on a few things that you can work on based on what you heard. Then, loosen your grip on the rest of it.

You’ll be more effective if you direct your efforts toward a couple of specific goals. Resist the urge to ruminate on every negative detail of your evaluation. It’s better to settle on a couple of takeaways that seem to be the most meaningful to you.

6. Design a clear and simple plan.

Once you’ve honed in on some concrete goals, it’s time to create a plan of action. Come up with some objectives for moving forward. Be sure that your goals are clear and measurable, and establish some timelines to help keep you on track. If you like, and if it seems appropriate, you can schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your ideas. Present your plan for improving your performance, and be open to any feedback you receive.

7. React so well that you change the story.

The way you react to your performance review could end up mattering more than the evaluation itself. So, you want to be very careful with the way you respond. React so constructively, so positively, that this difficult situation actually becomes a positive one in the end. Others are sure to notice. But, don’t do it for them. Do it for yourself and for your career.

Don’t allow one negative performance review to define you. Instead, view this challenge as an opportunity for growth. It’s in your own best interest.

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Have you ever received a bad performance review? How did you move forward? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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