Whoops! How to Turn Around a Bad Performance Review

It stings.

Whether you anticipated that negative performance review or were completely blindsided, being told you’re not living up to expectations can leave you feeling embarrassed. Disheartened. And even worried you might lose your job.

But should you give up? Absolutely not. With the right response and follow up, a tough review can be a tool that spurs you on to greater job success. Here’s how to handle the situation constructively and come back even stronger:

Display the right attitude.

If you receive harsh feedback during your annual review, it’s normal to be surprised – and even a little angry. But a negative or defensive attitude will only make an already tough situation worse. View the criticism for what it is: a tool to help you improve your job performance moving forward.

Once you’re home, give yourself permission and time to feel bummed out. Allow yourself to process the emotions you’re experiencing, so you can use them as motivation to prevent yourself from repeating the choices or mistakes that contributed to your poor review.

Make plans for improvement.

Work with your boss to create a few specific goals that, if attained, will demonstrate you’ve grown as an employee and resolved any issues undermining your performance. Break those goals into a step-by-step plan of action to guide your efforts during the year ahead.

When your boss sees that you’re committed to meaningful, lasting improvement, it sets the stage for a positive work relationship moving forward.

Request more frequent feedback.

Regular, specific feedback is important to keep your performance on track throughout the year. Ask your supervisor to meet with you regularly to be sure you’re progressing toward the performance goals you’ve set.

Seek coaching and mentorship from other co-workers.

Get help from a co-worker whose strengths are your weaknesses – and return the favor.

Keep track of your work.

Start a file to “build your case” for a positive performance review next year:

  • Put your evaluation and notes from this year’s review in the file.
  • Review your file twice a month. When you accomplish something that applies to any of your performance goals, note it in the file.
  • Keep copies of written compliments, commendations and awards.
  • Build a success portfolio. Add work samples or reports to the file.

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