If you just got a poor performance review, I feel for you. I know that it’s easy to let that get you down. But whether or not you agree with what you just heard, this is not a time to retreat into hiding. Bad reviews can happen even to the best of us. And you might even find something personally useful as a result.
Unless it’s clear there is no chance of recovery, the best thing you can do after a bad review is to dust yourself off. And commit to start fresh, with a renewed determination to show your current boss that you do have what it takes to succeed. If it works, great. If not, you can use the time to figure out, and lay the groundwork for, some possible next moves.
NOTE: Even if you eventually wind up leaving anyway, just know there’s always a place where we can shine. Please believe that. Meanwhile, it pays to do our best in any circumstance, since that shapes who we are now and into the future. And how we feel about ourselves.
What to do DURING the poor performance review
Enter the room with a friendly greeting — and a firm handshake, if appropriate. Even if you have a bad feeling in your gut about what might be said, you want to be professional.
And, while the actual performance review is taking place, no matter what is being said, be fully present. Every moment is a chance to learn and to help shift any negative impressions.
- Listen carefully.
- Don’t argue.
- Take a respectful posture and lean in a bit to show interest.
- Be open to what your supervisor is telling you, even if you disagree.
- Acknowledge politely, now and then, that you hear what’s being said.
- Ask for specific examples if unclear, explaining you want to learn from the feedback.
- Respond respectfully if asked for your reactions.
- Ask for specific goals you can set together to help you improve your performance before the next review.
- If it feels ok, ask if you can share some things you feel you need help with that might be getting in your way. Make this about things you can do. Never blame others, especially your boss!!
What to do AFTER the poor performance review
Basically, you want to work on meeting any goals set during the performance review. And you want to try to strengthen your relationship with your boss. All the while still doing your very best at all you do. Pride in yourself no matter what others have said to you will help you get through this.
- Right after the review, think about sending a friendly “thank you” note, expressing (documenting) what you learned and stating the goals you took away with you. Ask for any additional advice / clarification to help you turn things around. Be clear that you want to make this work.
- Can you see anything else to learn from your poor performance review? Even if you didn’t discuss it directly, if the review sparks an idea that might help you improve, go for it!
- Is there some training or self-education you can get yourself? Don’t be shy if you need to ask for help. Just take it seriously if help is offered.
- If there are issues involving your relationship with coworkers, think of ways to make that better. The past is the past.
- Let go of any blame you may feel. A positive attitude from this point forward gets you more support than heaping blame — even if blame is well deserved. This is about what gets YOU to a better review and, hopefully, a job you can enjoy more.
- Make sure to give your boss progress reports along the way. Set up formal meetings if that works. Definitely a time to report your wins. And also a time to ask for feedback and advice.
- Look for ways to take on challenges and become more valuable to your boss and coworkers.
- Ideally, you want to pleasantly surprise your boss with how much you’ve learned and grown.
What if it’s a HORRIBLY poor performance review?
Well … of course, if it went really, really badly, it might be time to get your resume and LinkedIn profile updated. Better to be prepared just in case. Plus a good time for networking. (Actually always a good time to network.)
Get back in touch with former coworkers, bosses, classmates, or anyone who might have leads. And remember to ask how they’re doing. Networking is best if it’s not just one way. And not only when you need it. 🙂
But first, try to see how much you can bring to the table in support of yourself in THIS job. As I suggested earlier, aim to pleasantly surprise your boss. And, if given the chance after shaking off this bad review, you might even surprise yourself!
Some more posts to help