If you’ve received a ‘bad’ performance review and you’re currently feeling blind-sided, angry, defensive, or down on yourself… then pull up a chair.
While a negative review can sting, it’s important to not shut down and instead learn how to process it and move forward strategically so you can turn the setback into a growth opportunity.
Below are 4 expert-backed steps you can take to do just that.
Step 1: Process Your Emotions ASAP
Feeling shocked, sad, angry, disappointed, embarrassed, or wronged are all normal responses to have when given a negative performance review according to Thrive Global.
Think about it, for many of us our work is part of our identity so this kind of feedback can feel threatening. What happens when humans feel threatened? Our fight or flight responses get triggered which leads us to the above-mentioned feelings.
But here’s the thing! As normal as feeling these emotions are, they are not going to move you forward. While we’re in a state of distress, it’s hard to process information and think coherently so it’s important to recognize what we’re feeling, process it, and push past it to start fixing the problem.
If you’re struggling to do this, try to remember, you are not static. In other words, a bad review doesn’t mean you’re a bad employee. You can grow both in your intelligence and in your skills and that’s supposed to be the whole point of performance reviews, to provide you with insights that lead to stronger performance and advance your work outcomes.
So, soothe your ego, recognize that this will not tank your career, and when you’ve processed those emotions move on to the next step.
Step 2: Review Your Feedback Objectively
With a clear mind, now is a good time to revisit the feedback you received.
Forbes recommends reflecting on the following questions as you review: Did my manager have any valid points? Is this review typical or an anomaly? What can I improve for next time?
This is also a time when you can ask for clarifications if you didn’t ask for them during live feedback.
Business Insider suggests asking questions such as “Can you tell me a time when you wanted me to take initiative and I didn’t?” so you can better understand the feedback. If you see a comment and don’t know what your boss is referring to ask for more details.
Step 3: Challenge What You Feel Is Unfair
Fast Company highlights that systems for reviewing employees are not perfect and it’s completely possible that some of the feedback on your review is inaccurate. If you believe your review has some discrepancies, then advocate for yourself.
How? Gather your facts and evidence to support why you feel the point you’re contesting is misinformed. For example, point out achievements that your superiors might have overlooked and use this to make your case. Business Insider also suggests putting it in writing, as the documentation might prove useful later on.
Step 4: Create A Plan For Improvement
If you feel the feedback you’ve been given is valid then Executive Coach Cheryl Grace says it’s time to take corrective measures and create a plan for improvement in alignment with your boss’ expectations.
She suggests asking what improvement looks like to your boss; noting what you’ll focus on improving specifically; and confirming how you’ll both measure that improvement to ensure you’re meeting your boss’ expectations.
She says your plan for improvement should also include booking and scheduling regular check-ins with your boss to ensure you are moving in the right direction.