Blindsided by a poor performance review? What to do next . . .
As the day dawns for your annual performance review, you feel a combination of apprehension and quiet confidence. Sitting down with your manager to discuss your contribution is never fun. After all, your reputation is on the line. But it’s been a good year. You’ve worked hard, smashed some goals, been a motivated team player . . . So, it comes as a shock to discover that your performance is not up to the mark. The question is: what can you do about it?
1. Keep calm
Your immediate response may be to fight back. You may see negative feedback as a personal and professional insult, especially when it is totally unexpected. Try not to let the anger and hurt bubble to the surface and, whatever you do, refrain from badmouthing your manager to co-workers, family and friends. Take a few days to allow your emotions to settle. You’ll then be able to think more rationally about the best way forward.
2. Reflect and plan
Consider the feedback you have received. Jot down a few bullet points and note areas where you would like clarification from your manager. You may also find it useful to approach a couple of trusted co-workers to ask their honest opinion on your performance at work. You should then be able to draft a development plan with goals and strategies for building on your current skill-set.
3. Approach your manager
Request a 1:1 meeting with your manager to discuss your performance review. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have as well as to present your development plan. There’s nothing like proactivity to demonstrate that you’ve taken their feedback on board and intend to act on it.
4. Agree on next steps
In your meeting, discuss and agree on short-, medium- and long-term goals that focus on your strengths and ways you can develop your skill-set. A poor performance review should highlight areas for improvement. See this as an opportunity to learn, either on-the-job or through external training programs.
5. Seek structured feedback
Diarise a series of formal feedback sessions, where you can discuss your progress with your manager and make any adjustments. You don’t want to wait another year to find out if you are meeting expectations.
Remember, you don’t need to wait for a formal 1:1 to raise questions and discuss issues. Lay the groundwork now for healthy working relationships based on regular conversations and interactions with both your manager and trusted co-workers.
7. Track your progress
Record the work you are doing towards achieving your goals and any training opportunities you have undertaken. When your next performance review comes around, you’ll have every right to feel quietly confident. You know you have worked to the best of your ability – and deserve positive feedback.
A poor performance review can be a big reality check. Don’t let the negative feedback drag you down. What you may see as failure could be an exceptional opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Have you ever had a poor performance review? We’d love to know what you did about it.